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Bring the world together - Host an exchange student! PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Courtney Wade   
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 14:25

World Heritage Student Exchange program, a public benefit organization, is seeking local host families for high school boys and girls from Spain, Germany, Thailand, Norway, China, Russia, France, The former Soviet Union Countries, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and more!

Host families are asked to include the student as a member of their family. Couples, single parents, and families with & without children in the home are all encouraged to host. You can choose a student for a semester or for the school year.

Each World Heritage student is fully insured, brings his/her own personal spending money and expects to contribute to his/her share of household responsibilities, as well as being included in normal family activities and lifestyles.

Imagine the world of peace and greater understanding. Imagine yourself as part of the solution! Today’s teens are tomorrow’s parents, international business people and possibly even future political leaders! Share your corner of America by helping a foreign exchange student experience life in your area!

For more information call us at 1(800)888-9040, go online at or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

World Heritage International Student Exchange programs, formerly known as Spanish Heritage, is a non-profit, public benefit organization affiliated with and operated under the sponsorship of ASSE International. World Heritage programs are conducted in accordance with the high standards established by the U.s. Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET). World Heritage is also a member of the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange.

Lt. Gov. Simon: Pass ethics reform measure now PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kara Beach   
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:55

CHICAGO – May 1, 2013. With a month left before the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today urged lawmakers to pass ethics reform legislation that she drafted with government watchdog groups. Senate Bill 1361, sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), is currently awaiting Senate passage.

“In these remaining weeks of session, members of the legislature are continuing to address a number of important challenges; however, they cannot allow ethics reform to fall to the wayside,” Simon said during a public policy luncheon at the City Club of Chicago. “I thank Sen. Kotowski for his leadership on this important transparency bill, and I look forward to continuing to work with his colleagues to send this legislation to the House.”

SB 1361 proposes a revised disclosure form, known as a Statement of Economic Interests, which must be filed with the secretary of state’s office or postmarked annually by May 1. The revised form would require filers to list outside sources of income, lobbyist relationships and loans made or accepted on terms not available to the general public, for the first time. It also closes loopholes that allowed filers to answer “not applicable” to almost all of the questions on the current version of the form introduced 40 years ago.

Simon said the goal of the new form is to help Illinois residents determine if elected officials, high-ranking employees and candidates have conflicts of interest. The new form will also be easier for filers to complete thanks to the plain-language questions, definitions of terms and clear connections to information found on tax returns and investment statements.

“Residents of Illinois should not have to wait any longer to find out whether their elected officials are working in the public’s interest or their own self interest,” Simon said. “I urge lawmakers to do the right thing by sending this legislation to the governor’s desk.”

The Illinois Constitution and Illinois Governmental Ethics Act require elected officials, high-ranking government employees, and political candidates to complete a Statement of Economic Interests each May. State government workers file with the Secretary of State, while workers for local units of government file with their county clerk. The forms are supposed to expose existing or potential conflicts of interest, but the documents use such vague and cumbersome language that the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform has called them “woefully inadequate” and “a waste of paper.”

Last month, Simon and members of her senior staff released an annual financial disclosure form that goes above and beyond what is required in the state’s Statement of Economic Interests. Simon’s staff form is modeled after those used by federal officers and notes income greater than $200, investments and debts.

This is the third year that Simon and her staff have released their detailed financial statements. Find the documents here.


News Releases - General Info
Written by Rep. Mike Smiddy   
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:53
PORT BYRON, IL – State Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale) is hosting a Senior Citizen Technology workshop in partnership with AT&T on Monday, May 6 at 11:00 am at the UAW Hall located at 630 19th Street (at Moline Drive) in East Moline.

“It can be difficult to keep up with the newest technology, especially for senior citizens,” said Smiddy. “This workshop gives seniors an opportunity to learn about how technology can enhance their lives, instead of becoming a barrier.”

At this event, which is free and open to the public, senior citizens can learn about using technology in daily life, ranging from cell phones to wireless pacemakers. The workshop is designed for seniors of all levels of technology literacy and awareness. Attendees may also bring their own devices to receive one-on-one assistance.

“In our increasingly high-tech world, embracing technology increases opportunities for seniors from staying in touch with friends and family to managing their finances,” Smiddy said. “I encourage all local seniors to attend this workshop and learn practical ways to incorporate technology in their lives.”

For more information or to RSVP, contact Smiddy’s constituent services office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , (309) 848-9098, or toll-free at (855) 243-4988.


Stand up for equality in Scouting PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Congressman Bruce Braley   
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 12:55
It was over forty years ago that I joined a Cub Scout Pack in Brooklyn, Iowa. I worked hard to become a Bobcat, Wolf, Bear and Lion. I was proud to build my own Pinewood Derby car and thrilled when my car won First Place. I was blessed to have great adult leaders who were Den Mothers and Scoutmasters.

Scouting has changed a lot since those days in Brooklyn. Last week, the Boy Scouts of America announced a significant change to allow gay scouts, and I applaud them for that change. But in a time where gays and lesbians serve their country openly and with courage in the military ... prepared to lay down their lives for their country ... it boggles the mind that these same veterans could be barred from serving as a leader in their child's Scout troop.

Just last week, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they plan on changing the rule to allow gay Scouts, but not gay leaders. The BSA board will vote on this plan in May, and that's why I need your help.

It’s a step -- but it’s not far enough. I'm joining the efforts of a fellow Iowan and fellow Eagle Scout, Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, to call for change. I'm sending an open letter to the Boy Scouts of America. Will you sign it today?

Tell the Boy Scouts -- everyone should be allowed to participate, and we need to stand up for equality. Sign the letter today.

Let's make sure Scouting remains about teaching young people leadership and integrity and not about discriminating against others by excluding openly gay participants.

In this day and age, an American institution like the BSA needs to lead and denounce discrimination of all types and forms. The Boy Scouts have an opportunity to show our youth what real leadership looks like, and to send a message that equality and inclusion is acceptable, not discrimination. 

Sign my open letter urging the Boy Scouts of America to stop discrimination.

Yours in Scouting,


Iowa Business Specialty Court Pilot Project Opens for Business May 1 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Iowa Judical Branch   
Monday, 29 April 2013 15:17

Des Moines, April 29, 2013 —The Iowa Business Specialty Court Pilot Project will begin accepting qualifying cases Wednesday, May 1. The three-year pilot project will accept a broad range of qualifying complex commercial cases with $200,000 or more in dispute and will be staffed by judges specially trained in the complex issues facing businesses.


The supreme court, with assistance from the state court administrator, selected three outstanding judges to preside over the business court docket. The selection was based on the judges' educational background, judicial and trial practice experience in complex commercial cases, and personal interest in the project. The judges are Michael Huppert, of Des Moines; Annette Scieszinski, of Albia; and John Telleen, of LeClaire.


The three judges and Iowa Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht, who chaired the Iowa Civil Justice Reform Task Force, will be available to the media for interviews during a 3:30 p.m. conference call May 1. Members of the media interested in joining the conference call should contact Iowa Judicial Branch Communications Officer Steve Davis at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 515-725-8058. Biographies of each of the judges are at the end of this news release. Group and individual photographs of the judges are also available.


In August 2010, the 84 member Iowa Civil Justice Reform Task Force was formed to study and consider court innovations to make Iowa's civil justice system faster, less complicated, more affordable, and better equipped to handle the demands of Iowa litigants and users of the civil justice system. The membership represented business, labor, medicine, industry, consumer groups, the bench and the bar. For more than a year, the task force studied innovative litigation procedures and programs that have been implemented in other parts of the country. One of the recommendations of the task force was a business specialty court pilot project.


The Iowa Supreme Court formalized the three-year pilot project by supervisory order on December 21, 2012. The pilot project's memorandum of operation, details on the criteria for case eligibility, the joint consent form used for transferring cases to the business court, and additional information about the pilot project are posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at:


Business Court Judges

District Judge, Michael D. Huppert, Polk County

Business Court Judge Michael D. Huppert was appointed to the district court bench in December of 1999 and serves Iowa's 5th Judicial District. He earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Drake University in 1979, and his law degree from Drake University Law School in 1982, where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif.


Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Huppert was a partner with the Patterson Law Firm in Des Moines, where he maintained a general civil litigation practice with emphasis in insurance defense, commercial litigation, real estate, and debtor-creditor relations. During his tenure as an attorney, he was also responsible for managing an asbestos litigation caseload of approximately 1,000 cases in state and federal court. During his judicial career, Judge Huppert has presided over a wide range of cases that would currently qualify for inclusion in the Business Court program, including matters with issues such as breach of commercial contracts, banking transactions, certification of class actions, and complex insurance coverage issues.


Judge Huppert is a member of The Iowa State Bar Association, the Polk County Bar Association, the American Judicature Society, and the American College of Business Court Judges. He is also a member and former director of the Iowa Judges Association and currently serves that organization as the chair of its Legislative Policy committee. He is a Master of the Bench and former president of the C. Edwin Moore American Inn of Court.


District Judge, Annette J. Scieszinski, Monroe County

Business Court Judge Annette J. Scieszinski is in her 17th year serving Iowa's 8th Judicial District. She graduated valedictorian of her class from Winfield-Mt. Union High School in 1973, graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1977, and received her law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1980, where she served on the editorial board of the Iowa Law Review.


Judge Scieszinski practiced law for 15 years in Albia, and was elected Monroe County Attorney for two terms.   She has served in many civic roles and has been appointed to several state leadership posts, including President of the Iowa Judges Association in 2004.   In her work with The Iowa State Bar Association, Judge Scieszinski has guided programming at the statewide Bench-Bar Conference for many years and continues to be active on the Board of Directors of the Public Service Project. Judge Scieszinski brings a broad variety of case and trial management experience to the business court, with an emphasis on expeditious and cost effective trial practices.


Judge Scieszinski is a frequent speaker on professionalism and ethics for lawyers and judges, both in Iowa and nationally. She represented Iowa judges at the first National Conference on Public Trust and Confidence in the Courts. She is an Iowa delegate to the National Conference of State Trial Judges, has been elected an officer of that group, and has also chaired the Ethics Committee for the American Bar Association's Judicial Division.


District Judge, John D. Telleen, Scott County

Business Court Judge John D. Telleen was appointed to the district court bench in Iowa's 7th Judicial District in April, 2011. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1980 (Political Science Major; cum laude) and his law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law (Juris Doctorate with Distinction) in 1984. Prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Telleen was in private practice with Lane & Waterman, L.L.P., Davenport, Iowa, as an associate from 1984 through 1989 and a partner from 1990 until 2011.


Judge Telleen's primary practice area as an attorney was civil litigation, including personal injury, medical negligence, environmental insurance coverage, commercial, asbestos exposure, and broker/dealer litigation, in addition to advising general business and corporate clients. A significant focus of his practice became complex insurance coverage matters in Iowa and other states including Ohio, Wisconsin, California, Kentucky, Idaho, and Kansas. Judge Telleen became a certified civil mediator in 1988 and regularly mediated tort, contract, and other disputes.


Judge Telleen's current professional associations include the Iowa Judges' Association, American and Iowa Bar Associations and the Inns of Court. Professional associations while in private practice included: Induction into Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers 2006; American Bar Association; The Iowa State Bar Association; Scott County Bar Association; Iowa Defense Counsel Association; Illinois State Bar Association; Rock Island County Bar Association; and Illinois Defense Counsel Association.


Iowa Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht

Justice Hecht, Sioux City, was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2006.


Raised near Lytton, Iowa, he received his bachelor's degree from Morningside College in 1974 and his J.D. degree from the University of South Dakota in 1977. He received his L.L.M. degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 2004.


Justice Hecht practiced law in Sioux City for twenty-two years before his appointment to the court of appeals in 1999.


Justice Hecht is a past president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Home and Family Services, the Morningside College Alumni Association, the Woodbury County Judicial Magistrate Nominating Commission, and the Woodbury County Compensation Commission. Justice Hecht served as chairperson for the supreme court's Iowa Civil Justice Reform Task Force. The Task Force final report was presented to the members of the Iowa Supreme Court on January 30, 2012.



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