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Simon stands with Senate on marriage equality vote PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kara Beach   
Friday, 15 February 2013 13:43
Fights for equal protection, rights for all Illinois couples

SPRINGFIELD – February 14, 2013. As couples across Illinois celebrate Valentine’s Day, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is thanking the Illinois Senate for passing Senate Bill 10, the marriage equality bill. SB 10 passed the Senate today with a 34-21 vote and now heads to the House.

“It’s time for marriage equality in Illinois, and I thank Sen. Steans for her leadership and the Senate for taking this decisive action to ensure equality for all families,” said Simon, a longtime advocate for marriage equality and LGBT rights. “People across Illinois recognize the importance marriage plays in protecting and recognizing families, and the Senate has heard that message loud and clear.”

Today Simon gave each senator a heart-shaped Valentine cookie decorated with an equal sign. If successful, Illinois would become the 10th state to recognize same-sex marriage.

“On Valentine’s Day we all take time to recognize the people we love,” Simon said. “It is fitting that today we are one important step closer to treating all loving, committed couples in Illinois equally, throughout the year.”

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Lt. Governor Simon’s Firearms Working Group meets with families impacted by gun violence PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kara Beach   
Friday, 15 February 2013 13:36

Simon, members visit Chicago to talk with families about gun violence in urban communities

CHICAGO – February 14, 2013. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon's Firearms Working Group will meet with parents who have lost children to gun violence on Friday afternoon at Saint Sabina Church in Chicago.

The working group made up of new legislators is meeting with stakeholders on all sides of the gun control debate as the General Assembly considers Illinois’ first law to allow Illinoisans to carry concealed firearms.

“Gun violence has taken too many young lives in Illinois, and I was honored that these families chose to share their stories with us,” Simon said. “We need to work together to keep our young people safe from gun violence, while also protecting the rights of responsible gun owners.”

The working group will meet with members of Purpose Over Pain and Father Michael Pfleger, who will address the group on the personal impact of violence in urban communities and advocate for ways to prevent other parents from losing children to gun violence. Pam Bosley, co-founder of Purpose Over Pain, began the organization along with her husband after their 18-year-old son, Terrell Marquis Bosley, was shot and killed in April 2006 while helping a friend carry a drum set into a south side church.

The Firearms Working Group meeting at Saint Sabina comes on the same day President Obama visits Chicago to talk about the economy and to call for an end to the gun violence that has swept the city. Illinois is in the spotlight as state leaders grapple with the recent shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton and attempt to meet a June deadline to pass a law that permits people to carry guns in public spaces.

Currently Illinois is the only state in the nation with a law that bans carrying concealed firearms. The law was declared unconstitutional in December by a three-member panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the state was given 180 days to pass regulations on where and when residents can carry firearms.

Over the next two months, the group will meet with stakeholders on all sides of the debate – from hunters to law enforcement to domestic violence prevention advocates – to promote dialogue and work toward consensus on pending legislation. Representatives from the National Rifle Association, Illinois State Rifle Association, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network (UCAN) met with Simon’s Firearms Working Group earlier this month, and a meeting with law enforcement officials from across the state is set for later in February.

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REP. SMIDDY REWARDS SAFE TEEN DRIVING, ATTENDS RIVERDALE IMPACT COLORING CONTEST AWARDS PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rep. Mike Smiddy   
Friday, 15 February 2013 13:34
PORT BYRON, IL—State Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale) handed out awards on Tuesday for Riverdale Impact, an organization sponsored by Riverdale Crime Stoppers to promote teenage safe driving.

“Programs that warn against distracted driving—especially for our teen drivers—are vital to lowering automobile accidents and fatalities here in Illinois,” said Smiddy, “This program is a great way to get students to start thinking about how to be a positive influence in their communities.”

Students participated in a coloring contest to raise awareness of dangerous driving habits as part of a peer-to-peer program that trains teens to be advocates for safe driving. According to Riverdale Impact, motor vehicle-related injuries are the leading cause of accidental death for young people aged 1 to 34.

Operation Safe Teen Driving, a program designed to help teens learn about driver safety and encourage teens to be proactive to prevent dangerous driving habits, awarded a $2,000 grant to Riverdale Impact to implement the program.

For more information, 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.

 
IRS whistleblower office cases drop off, bad news for taxpayers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 15 February 2013 12:58
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on the Internal Revenue Service’s annual whistleblower report to Congress and the agency’s response to Grassley’s letter expressing concern about problems implementing new incentives for whistleblowers to come forward on tax fraud.  Grassley authored the 2006 whistleblower improvements.

“The report shows a drop in whistleblowers coming forward.   That’s alarming.  Instead of rushing to raise new revenue through tax increases, as the President wants, the government should work with whistleblowers to collect taxes that are due under current tax levels.  I’m concerned that the delay in awards and the way the IRS treats whistleblowers might be contributing to the drop in whistleblower cases.   Unfortunately, the regulations proposed in December are likely to further contribute to a drop-off in whistleblowers coming forward.  The IRS has made some progress in processing and tracking claims, but whistleblowers are still left in the dark for years.  The IRS needs to do a lot more to give whistleblowers the confidence they need to take the risk of coming forward to expose tax fraud.”

The IRS’ annual report to Congress on whistleblowers is available here.  The agency’s response to Grassley’s Jan. 28 letter is available here.  Grassley’s Jan. 28 letter is available here.

 
5 Reasons Americans Need to Watch North & South Korea PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 15 February 2013 12:57
The World May be Caught Sleeping, Says Former
Dept. of Defense Worker

The longest, most heavily guarded border in the world, the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea, could easily steal American and world headlines as the issue of the day, and most of us would be caught blindsided, says Ian R. Kelley, who served 35 years in the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Sure, there are plenty of competing issues out there, but I don’t think our leaders or media give proper attention to the two Koreas – neither the immediacy of their issues nor the long-term potential consequences,” says Kelley, author of “UNCIVIL SERVANTS,” (www.ianrkelley.com), a political thriller that fictionalizes an attempt to open borders at the 38th parallel, uniting North and South Korea.

He reviews the five major ways the two Koreas may affect the United States, and the rest of the world:

• U.S. military personnel: More than 30,000 U.S. military, Department of Defense civilians and contractors live and work under constant threat from the last remnant of the “Bamboo Curtain,” says Kelley. With ongoing conflicts and threats continuing throughout the Middle East and North Africa, a renewed shooting war between the two sides would stress an already stretched-thin military.

• Same as the old boss? Global uncertainty: Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader since his father Kim Jong-il died in 2011, made a surprise New Year’s broadcast on state media. He called for an end to confrontation between the two Koreas – still officially at war without a peace treaty ending their 1950-53 conflict. But this will not be the first olive branch from the North; past statements have been used for tactical purposes only. Very little is known about the new leader, furthering the guardedness of regional neighbors.

• A reunited Korea – the good: Most agree the world would be a safer, more humane place when, and if, North and South Korea unite. Putting an end to famine and starvation in the North, dramatically reducing the threat of nuclear war and preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorist organizations is an imperative.

• A reunited Korea –the bad: Some in the Japanese government fear the industrial might of a reunited Korea. The abundance of the North’s natural resources coupled with the South’s technology and innovation could have devastating results for Japan’s economy. China worries about the new border and how that nation’s security will be guaranteed. Even some labor union leaders in South Korea worry about the consequences if millions of workers flock south seeking a better life.

• Friends & enemies (a delicate balance): Should hostilities flare up between the North and South, powerful allies on both sides would be drawn into the fray. The U.S. would almost certainly side with the south, damaging any negotiations with those who may side with the North, including Russia.

Reunification of the Koreas is inevitable, Kelley says, but the many unknowns about the North compound the potential negative effects.

“Remember, there are still shots being fired in the DMZ – most recently, an unconfirmed report that North Korean soldiers killed two ‘defectors’ who were trying to cross to the South,” Kelley says. “It is not a stable area.”

About Ian R. Kelley

Ian R. Kelley retired from the Department of Defense in 2005 after 35 years service. For many years, he lived and worked in South Korea teaching English and communications skills to Korean and U.S. military personnel. He worked as a professor at Keimyung College University in Daegu, South Korea. He currently resides in Tarpon Springs, Fla.

 
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