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Alternative Introduced to Target Violent Criminals, Safeguard Second Amendment PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 13:15

Grassley, Cruz Introduce Comprehensive Legislation That Targets Violent Criminals, Safeguards Second Amendment

WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ted Cruz of Texas are introducing an alternative amendment to gun legislation pending on the Senate floor.  Their “Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act” would preserve the Second Amendment while providing important fixes to existing law.

The Grassley-Cruz proposal would reauthorize and improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), increase resources for prosecutions of gun crime, address mental illness in the criminal justice system, and strengthen criminal law by including straw purchasing and illegal firearm trafficking statutes.

“When people study our amendment, they’ll see a sensible alternative that was developed from the ground up.  It’s got wide-ranging, broad-based support and takes a responsible approach to fixing problems with the current background check system,” Grassley said.  “We’ve put together an amendment that can effectively address some of the problems we’ve seen while protecting Second Amendment rights.  I’ve been very interested in the mental health aspect of this debate, so we include provisions to study and address that issue.  My oversight of Operation Fast and Furious highlighted some serious flaws within the gun trafficking and straw purchasing area, and Senator Cruz has done an exceptionally good job of helping develop that portion of our alternative.  In addition, we both understand the importance of ensuring that Second Amendment protections are in place for veterans, along with every other American.”

“I am glad to work with Sen. Grassley on this important amendment, which presents a reasonable alternative to the current legislation being considered while placing top priority on preserving Americans’ inalienable right to bear arms,” Sen. Cruz said. “Rather than restricting the rights of law-abiding Americans, we should be focusing on keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals, which this legislation accomplishes. While the Obama Administration continues to politicize a terrible tragedy to push its anti-gun agenda, I am proud to stand beside my fellow senators to present common-sense measures that will increase criminal prosecutions of felons who try to buy guns, criminalize straw purchasing and gun trafficking, and address mental health issues.”

Sponsors of the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2013 include Senators Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Dan Coats of Indiana, John Cornyn of Texas, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, James Risch of Idaho, Marco Rubio of Florida, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

This legislation will:

·         Improve and reauthorize grants for NICS database;

·         Require federal courts to submit relevant information to NICS;

·         Ensure that relevant mental health records are submitted by states to NICS;

·         Condition federal grant money for states on their submission of mental health records to NICS;

·         Increase federal prosecution of gun violence by establishing the Nationwide Project Exile Program and establishing a high level federal taskforce;

·         Study of the causes of mass shootings;

·         Responsibly addresses gun violence by criminalizing straw purchasing of firearms and gun trafficking;

·         Second Amendment Protections for Veterans;

·         Require the Department of Justice to explain to Congress why it has or has not been prosecuting gun cases;

·         Place Limitations on Fast & Furious type operations by DOJ;

·         Authorize FFL’s to utilize the NICS database to for voluntary background checks of employees;

·         Authorize FFL’s to access the FBI’s National Crime Information Center stolen gun database to ensure that a firearm is not stolen prior to acquisition;

·         Reauthorize the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) with amendments;

·         Address school safety by Reauthorizes the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Secure our Schools Program through 2023. 

Here is a section-by-section summary of the bill and a copy of the text of the bill.

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United Planet Volunteer Donates $8,000 to Tanzanian School PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kristen Brandt   
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 10:28
United Planet volunteer alumnus, Adam Dodge, donates his charity award to United Planet’s elementary school project in Tanzania to build a computer lab

Boston, MA, April 17, 2013 – Adam Dodge, a former United Planet volunteer who taught English at an elementary school in Tanzania in 2008, recently donated $8,000 to the school to support the construction of a new computer lab.

United Planet, an international non-profit based in Boston, MA, works with local projects in over 40 countries to provide cross-cultural experiences for both travelers and host communities. After working in the computer technology industry for many years, Adam Dodge felt it was time for change, and for him, it was the perfect time to take the leap and volunteer abroad. Says Dodge, “It sounds like it’s really hard to do, but when you take a step back and look into it, it’s really a lot easier than you think.”

Dodge wanted a challenging experience in a place where he could also give back, so he decided to participate in a United Planet Volunteer Abroad Quest to Tanzania. Dodge took eight months off to travel and volunteer, and his time volunteering in Tanzania, he says, was clearly the highlight of the trip. “I’ve gained more than I could have imagined,” says Dodge, “You take away more from [the experience] than you feel like you are giving.”

So, naturally, when Dodge received last year’s annual Outstanding Contribution to the Firm Award from his employer along with $10,000 to donate to the charities of his choice,

 
IRS on accessing taxpayer emails PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 16 April 2013 14:47
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today pressed the head of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to account for recent media reports stating that agency internal documents say agents have the ability to access taxpayer emails without warrants, despite a court opinion to the contrary.  Grassley questioned Steven T. Miller, acting commissioner, at a Finance Committee hearing this morning.   The media reports indicate the IRS has taken the position that it can access taxpayer emails without a warrant under the Electronic Communication Privacy Act.   While the Act does allow federal agencies to obtain electronic communications from a remote computing service without a search warrant, provided they are older than 180 days, this position is contrary to the 6th Circuit’s decision in U.S. v. Warshak. In Warshak, the court held that a search warrant is necessary to obtain any content of an email, regardless of age.  The Department of Justice has extended this policy to all circuits.   Grassley has long worked to expand taxpayer rights, winning approval of the first-ever Taxpayer Bill of Rights in 1988 and a sequel enacted in 1996.  The legislation codified rights and protections for taxpayers in dealing with the IRS after a series of abuses came to light and were the subject of congressional hearings.

Grassley made the following comment on the IRS’ email access policy.

“The IRS has a very high burden to treat taxpayers within legal bounds and without abusive intrusion of privacy.  The agency’s written materials suggest agents have the ability to access taxpayer emails without warrants.   Acting Commissioner Miller said today this isn’t the agency position.  If it’s not agency policy or practice, the IRS needs to clarify the true policy in writing, agency-wide.  That’s critical.  But it’s not enough.  The IRS also needs to explain its aggressive stance in internal documents about accessing electronic communications and whether it in fact accessed electronic communications without search warrants and if so, when and why.  The IRS has to take this issue seriously, and a casual explanation is inadequate.  I’ll ask Acting Commissioner Miller follow-up questions on this issue to be answered in writing for the hearing record, as a start.”

 
Governor Quinn’s Statement on the Tragic Events in Boston PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ryan C. Woods   
Tuesday, 16 April 2013 14:30

Governor Pat Quinn today issued the below statement in response to today’s tragic events in Boston, Massachusetts:

“We are closely monitoring the developments in Boston and the people of Illinois stand with those impacted by today’s tragic explosions. As we wait for more details to become available, all of the runners, spectators, loved ones and first responders are in our thoughts and prayers.

“May God bless our emergency responders and the everyday people for their heroic efforts to help the wounded and save lives.

“I have directed all of the state’s public safety agencies – including the Illinois State Police, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Department of Military Affairs and Office of the State Fire Marshal – to stand ready to assist and remain vigilant in responding to and reporting suspicious activity. As always, the people of Illinois should be aware of activities around them and report anything suspicious to local law enforcement officials.”

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Loebsack Statement on the Explosions in Boston PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 16 April 2013 14:27

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today:

“The events that happened today in Boston are appalling. My thoughts and prayers are with all those injured and the families and loved ones of those who were lost.  I would like to thank the first responders, members of the National Guard, and all those who responded and provided assistance to those who needed it.  As a nation, we stand with the people of Boston.”

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