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Grassley statement on the Motion to Proceed to Reid Gun Control Legislation PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 13:00

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee

The Motion to Proceed to Reid Gun Legislation

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Click here for video of the speech.

Mr. President, earlier today, I met with families from Newtown, Connecticut to discuss the legislation we are currently debating.  It was emotional and difficult for all of us.  I thank them for sharing their stories of their loved ones and their concerns with me.  I hope my colleagues will also consider meeting with these families.

At the meeting, they called for a debate on the legislation, a debate we are having.  And under the new procedures available under Senate Resolution 15, the Majority Leader can move to proceed to a measure and vote on some amendments.  A vote against the motion to proceed does not cut off debate or votes on amendments.

Nonetheless, Mr. President, we are in the unusual position of being asked to take a leap into the unknown.  We are being asked to vote to proceed to an uncertain bill.  That bill is not even the bill that we would likely consider if the motion to proceed were successful.  The language on background checks would change.  Remarkably, if the language changed, it would be replaced with language that does not now exist.

The world’s greatest deliberative body should not operate in this fashion.

In the Judiciary Committee, four bills were considered separately.  There was no consensus.  Three of them have now been combined.  But they are not ready for consideration.  At the time, the sponsor of the background check bill said it was not ready.  There are numerous problems with that bill.

Movement of firearms from one law-abiding citizen to another would be legal or illegal based on arbitrary distinctions that citizens could not be expected to know.  This is true even though when this language was the subject of a hearing in a previous Congress, a witness pointed out the problems.  But no changes have been made to address those issues.  Even an official with the ACLU says that criminal laws should give more guidance to citizens.

The bill operates in a way that would make gun safety efforts more difficult.  That does not make any sense.

The bill requires recordkeeping for private sales.  That is a step toward gun registration.  Indeed, we heard testimony in the Judiciary Committee that “universal” background checks cannot be effective without gun registration.

And the ACLU official is right to be concerned about the threat to privacy that the background check language presents.

He notes that the government would possess information concerning gun owners that it would not be required to destroy within 24 hours, as it must for current background checks.

He also points out that the bill contains none of the restrictions in current law that prevent other parts of the government from using the database for purposes beyond why the information was supposedly obtained.

The background check provision is also not ready for consideration because of the new federal felony that it creates.  If a law-abiding gun owner’s gun is lost or stolen, he or she would be required to report that to both the Attorney General and appropriate local officials within 24 hours.  At the markup, I asked a number of questions of the bill’s sponsor about how the offense would work.  For instance, who would pay for the additional law enforcement personnel who would take those calls?  What would a citizen’s legal obligation be if the gun were misplaced rather than lost?  What would determine when the loss occurred that started the 24 hour period?

The sponsor said that these issues would be clarified.  So far, however, they have not been.  So law-abiding citizens will not know whether they are acting in compliance with the law or face a 5 year jail sentence.  The issues have not been clarified, but we are being asked to proceed to the bill anyway.

This new offense criminalizes inaction.  That is a grave threat to freedom.  Except for filing tax returns or registering for the draft, we punish bad actions.  We do not punish inaction. This new crime punishes failure to act.  And it only applies to those who lawfully own their guns.  A criminal whose gun is stolen is not required to report that fact.  With this offense, law-abiding citizens can be turned into felons, but felons cannot commit a crime.  Under this new offense, law-abiding citizens might be looking at five years in jail for doing nothing.  And all that is necessary for the gun to be subject to the reporting requirement is that the gun once moved in interstate commerce.

The Supreme Court has outlined three categories of situations in which Congress can rely on the Commerce Clause.  This is not one of them.

If Congress can do this, it can make people take all sorts of action simply because they owned a product that once moved in interstate commerce.  Like bread.  Or soap.  And they can face jail time if they do not do what Congress demands that they do.  Even the individual mandate from Obamacare only established a penalty, not a prison sentence.  I do not think 90 percent of Americans would support this universal background check bill if they read it.

The motion to proceed also goes to a bill that contains language on straw purchasing and gun trafficking.  I voted to report that bill to the Senate floor.  Many changes were made to that bill at my behest.  An amendment of mine was adopted.  At the time, I expressed concerns.  I spoke of my desire to have those concerns worked out before the bill went to the floor.  I said I would not necessarily support that bill on the floor if those concerns were not responded to.  They have not been addressed so far.  And those provisions were tied to the ever-changing background check provisions.

The whole process makes me wonder whether the efforts to pass a bill on this subject really are serious.  It seems that if a half-baked bill is brought up, the majority can be sure that they can force Republicans not to agree to proceed to it.  It seems like that may be just what they want to happen.   If so, that is a very cynical way to treat a very serious issue.

Mr. President, how can we responsibly proceed to a bill that contains language that even its sponsor admits is not ready for consideration?


Fire Safety Project Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Davenport, American Red Cross of the Quad Cities Area and the Davenport Fire Department PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rick Best   
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 12:33
The Rotary Club of Davenport is partnering with the American Red Cross and the Davenport Fire Department to distribute educational materials for fire prevention and safety and emergency procedures in the home.
Rotary volunteers will work in conjunction with Red Cross volunteers and the Fire Department this Saturday,  April 13 from 9 am to noon to hand out materials in three Davenport neighborhoods. Volunteers will meet at a designated spot to park and then the Red Cross will provide vehicles and volunteers to transport everyone around the community.
Davenport Rotarian Eloise Graham is coordinating the project with two other Davenport Rotarians, Betsy Pratt, CEO of the American Red Cross of the Quad Cities Area, and Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn.  The Rotary club has been collecting funds that the Red Cross uses to provide supplies to families that have experienced a fire. Through this new partnership project, we hope to prevent those tragedies by providing information about fire safety to Davenport residents.
“Fire safety is an important part of the mission of the American Red Cross of the Quad Cities Area. We’re honored that the Davenport Rotary has chosen this project that can help us save lives in our community,” said Betsy Pratt.
Additional volunteers are needed, and they do not need to be Rotary members.  To volunteer, contact Eloise Graham at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or call 563-359-8696.

Post-Obama Visit, What’s Next for Peace between Palestine, Israel? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 08:51
3 Obama Accomplishments and 3 Ways Israel Can Jumpstart the
Peace Process, Noted by Jewish Peace Activist

Given how low expectations were prior to President Obama’s recent visit to Israel, it may not be saying much to declare that he exceeded expectations. But he did, says Israeli-Palestinian peace advocate Michael Cooper, and the centerpiece was his speech  to the Israeli people.

“His speech carried broad historical perspectives, a fair and moral worldview and showed warmth and friendship toward Israel, allaying fears that he was somehow anti-Israeli,” says Cooper, the  author of “Foxes in the Vineyard,” (, an Indie Publishing grand prize-winning novel that explores Israel’s birth through historical fiction.

The Jewish-American pediatric cardiologist, who regularly visits Israeli-occupied territories to provide medical care for the underserved children there, reviews the accomplishments of the president’s trip to Israel:

• The president’s first accomplishment was successfully resuscitating the two-state solution — a democratic and Jewish state of Israel living alongside a viable and independent state of Palestine. He emphasized the possibility and necessity of peace, and the justice and hope it provides for Israelis and Palestinians. He humanized those who aspire to live in peace with each other. At the same time, he marginalized the uncompromising extremists on both sides who promise only conflict. In promoting this vision of peace to the people of Israel, Obama was preaching to the choir. A recent poll in The Times of Israel reported that 67 percent of Israelis support a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with land swaps, a demilitarized Palestine, and the Old City of Jerusalem jointly administered by Israel, Palestine, and the U.S.

• President Obama convinced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call his counterpart in Turkey and to apologize for the killing of nine Turkish activists during the Gaza flotilla fiasco. Now, Israel and Turkey are moving to restore diplomatic relations and Israel can look forward to resuming her strong military and economic ties with Turkey.

• A third positive development took place two days after the visit; Netanyahu released frozen Palestinian tax funds, transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the desperately cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.

Building on these positive steps, Cooper points to three things Israel might do to immediately ignite the peace process, “without waiting for outside pressure from the ‘Quartet on the Middle East’ (the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations), Israel can seize the initiative,” he says.

• Stop expansion and apply the rule of law: Stop the expansion of all settlements in disputed territory and begin to dismantle illegal settler outposts. The latter involves nothing more than applying Israel’s own laws to outposts that are illegal according to the Israeli Supreme Court.

• Quell violent Jewish settler groups: An EU report found that settler violence had more than tripled in the three years up to 2011. Israeli police and military personnel should identify and arrest violent Jewish settlers and prosecute them in a court of law. Many prominent Jewish religious figures and high-ranking government officials have already condemned the brutal acts perpretrated by extremist settlers.

• Implement good will: Establish a cabinet level Ministry of Reconciliation to oversee the establishment of good-will cultural and economic missions between Israelis and Palestinians.

“The democratic state of Israel is strong enough to defend itself against internal enemies who undermine the rule of law. Israel’s future as a secure and democratic homeland for the Jewish People demands no less,” Cooper says.

“If Israel were to implement positive initiatives tomorrow – peace talks could start the day after tomorrow.”

About Michael Cooper

Michael J. Cooper emigrated to Israel after graduating high school in Oakland, Calif. Living in Israel for more than a decade, he studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and graduated from Tel Aviv University Medical School. Now a clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center and a practicing pediatric cardiologist in Northern California, he returns to Israel several times a year, volunteering on medical missions under the auspices of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Cooper’s novel, “Foxes in the Vineyard,” historical fiction set in 1948 Israel, was the 2011 grand prize winner of the Indie Publishing Contest. A second novel, The Rabbi’s Knight, is due out soon.

Mastering Life Balance: Achieving Greatness at Home and at Work PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 08 April 2013 10:37
5 Tips from Former Businessman of the Year

People are overwhelmed with the complexities of their own lives and are desperately seeking a way to maximize happiness in their home and work lives, says Gary Kunath, an entrepreneur, speaker and former CEO who works with some of the world’s top corporations and business schools.

“I used to be caught up in the spin cycle of thinking that net worth automatically afforded me life worth,” says Kunath, a speaker at top business schools and author of “Life ... Don't Miss It. I Almost Did: How I Learned To Live Life To The Fullest,” (

“I sacrificed time with my family with the justification that I was providing necessary material things, but at a certain point you realize that money doesn’t make you rich, it just allows you to buy more stuff.”

Priorities for professionals have shifted; now, U.S. workers seek family wellbeing above all else, he says. Companies need to recognize that it’s imperative to positively affect their employees’ lives, both inside and outside working quarters, he says.

“We need to bring humanity back to business,” Kunath says. “Leading corporations are aware that most professionals today – 70 percent – would trade a pay raise for an increase in personal wellness.”

But employers are struggling with that, he says, citing a new American Psychological Association survey released in March in which 48 percent of employees say their employers don’t value a good work-life balance.

More professionals are trying to find a path to life worth, rather than centering their behavior on net worth, Kunath says. He offers five ways career-minded individuals can achieve both:

• Look for signs you’re falling into the net-worth trap: For Kunath, those signs were clear. One day, he says, “it was like someone had smacked me on the head,” when his son, then 12, walked away in dismay after Kunath said he couldn’t play baseball with him because he was too busy working on a business proposal. “The look of disappointment on my son’s face was something I will never forget,” he says. Kunath dropped everything and spent the day with his son. “I promised that would NEVER happen again”. The next occurrence included a mental and physical breakdown after Kunath pushed himself to make an unnecessary business trip while sick.  After a 19-hour ordeal in a delayed flight to Spain, “…I knew in my bones that if I did not draw the line right there … I would ruin every part of my life that mattered to me.”

• Don’t be an employee, be employable: Unless you are self-employed, you are always vulnerable to someone else controlling your professional destiny, and therefore, your life worth. But employees can empower themselves by diversifying their skills so that they can have more choices about where and for whom to work.

• Bad things happen to good people: Adversity finds us all. No one enjoys the worst, most painful moments of their lives. Nonetheless, life events like loss of a loved one, financial ruin, divorce, addictions or illness tend to define us. We need adversity in our lives. Anyone can be a rock star when life is perfect. But when adversity strikes, then the “real” you is revealed. How you face adversity can either extinguish you or distinguish you.

• Believe in something bigger than you: There will be times when you are utterly helpless, with no control over an outcome. All the money in the bank and all the authority at work will do no good when it comes to, for instance, the death of a loved one. Believing in something bigger than you is an important part of having life worth; it helps you maintain your emotional health when you face life’s biggest challenges.

• Don’t Major in the Minors: As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” For every evening spent late in the office there are moments professionals miss out on – and can never get back. Many of us spend time on things that ultimately don’t matter. “The three greatest gifts you can give to your family are: Time, Memories and Tradition,” he says. “These are things in life that matter.”

About Gary Kunath

Gary Kunath is the founder of The Summit Group, which is ranked among the top sales-training companies in the world by Selling Power magazine. His value-creation approach received the “Innovative Practice of the Year Award” by 3M worldwide. He was named Businessman of the Year for the United States and was recognized a dinner hosted by the president of the United States. He has lectured extensively at several prominent business schools, and he is currently an adjunct professor at The Citadel’s Sports Marketing graduate program. Kunath is as an owner of several professional minor league baseball teams along with his partners, Bill Murray, Jimmy Buffet and Mike Veeck. The group is famous for managing its teams around the “Fun is Good” approach.

Statement from Governor Pat Quinn on the Passing of U.S. Diplomat Anne Smedinghoff PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Monday, 08 April 2013 10:24

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn gave the following statement today on the passing of Anne Smedinghoff. A young U.S. State Department diplomat from River Forest who like the governor attended Fenwick High School, Anne tragically lost her life in an explosion in Afghanistan while delivering books to children.

“Illinois is proud to call Anne Smedinghoff one of our own.

“Only 25 years old, this brave young woman knew social justice was her calling, and selflessly lost her life while serving others in a war-torn country. She was devoted to protecting America and improving the lives of others.

“We thank God for Anne's purposeful life. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”


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