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Progress Iowa launches campaign to demand Legislators stop sending tax dollars to ALEC PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Matt Sinovic   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 15:22

Campaign launches on tax day calling on Legislators to opt out of taxpayer-funded memberships

DES MOINES - Progress Iowa today called on all Iowans to contact their legislators and demand they opt out of a taxpayer funded membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing corporate front group.

“Today we are asking every Iowan to contact their legislator and tell them that sending taxpayer dollars to ALEC is unacceptable,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Our legislators need to opt out of ALEC immediately. If a legislator has already opted out of ALEC, they need to speak out against the organization. We have a right to know that our tax dollars aren’t being spent on a shadowy group promoting an extreme right-wing agenda.”

Yesterday State Representative Kevin McCarthy spoke about the issue on Iowa Public Radio, saying "39 of (the) 40 members of our caucus have opted out so that we're not having taxpayer dollars sent to this organization that advocates for things like 'Stand your Ground' which is why the Gates Foundation, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, and other entities are withdrawing their financial support from this organization."

ALEC is a secretive, corporate front group that drafts legislation, allowing Iowa legislators to pass it off as their own. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC has provided model legislation in Iowa to suppress voter rights, withdraw from regional environmental partnerships, and require 'intellectual diversity' reporting from our college campuses.

During the past few weeks, ALEC has received mounting criticism for their role in promoting controversial legislation, such as “Stand Your Ground” laws, which have been implicated in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

As a result, a number of high profile corporations and organizations have ended their financial support of ALEC, including: Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, Intuit, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Mars, Inc.

To view the call to action and to contact your legislator, visit

Click here for audio of Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s interview on Iowa Public Radio


ALEC-modeled legislation in Iowa (click here for full information including links to Iowa legislation and ALEC model legislation):
  • HF6 (introduced 1/11/11) "an act requiring the development of a searchable budget database." Compare to ALEC's "Transparency and Government Accountability Act."
  • HR4 (introduced 1/26/11), a "A resolution calling for the withdrawal of the State of Iowa from the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord." Compare to ALEC's "State Withdrawal from Regional Climate Initiatives."
  • HF95 (passed by the House 1/27/11) "establishing a requirement for voters to provide certain identification when voting in person." Compare to ALEC's "Voter ID Act."
  • HSB19 (recorded 1/20/11) "concerning state preemption of firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition regulation by political subdivisions and providing a remedy." Compare to ALEC's "Consistency in Firearms Regulation Act."
  • HF285 (introduced 2/15/11) "relating to intellectual diversity in community colleges and institutions of higher education under the control of the state board of regents and providing a reporting requirement." Compare to ALEC's "Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education Act."

Known ALEC Members in Iowa (According to SourceWatch):
  • Sen. Sandra H. Greiner (R-45)
  • Sen. Tim L. Kapucian (R-20)
  • Sen. James A. Seymour (R-28)
  • Rep. Richard T. Anderson (R-97)
  • Rep. Richard Arnold (R-72)
  • Rep. Betty De Boef (R-76)
  • Rep. Dave Deyoe (R-10)
  • Rep. Greg Forristall (R-98)
  • Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa (R-99)
  • Rep. David Heaton (R-91)
  • Rep. Stewart E. Iverson, Jr. (R-9)
  • Rep. Mark S. Lofgren (R-80)
  • Rep. Linda Miller (R-82)
  • Rep. Steven Olson (R-83)
  • Rep. Kim Pearson (R-42)
  • Rep. Dawn E. Pettengill (R-39)
  • Rep. Brian J. Quirk (D-15)
  • Rep. Thomas R. Sands (R-87)
  • Rep. Charles Soderberg (R-3)
  • Rep. Linda Upmeyer (R-12)
  • Rep. Ralph Watts (R-47)

Empower Kids by Giving Them ‘Keys to Peace’ PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 13:49
Well-Meaning Parents Often Fail to Teach Vital Values, Author Says

Parents and educators are always trying to spark student participation whether it’s in the classroom, in the local community, or throughout the world.

When middle-school students at Allison Academy in North Miami Beach were asked what they could do to improve their country, they focused on what they understood – bullying, violence and racism.

Those problems are all rooted in the same issues, says Rachel Albert, author of “Quest to Telos,” (, a young adult novel where fantasy meets reality and even world peace is possible.

“They stem from a lack of personal integrity and absence of social responsibility,” she says.

“Children who choose to put those values into practice are actively working toward peace. But they can only put into practice what they’ve learned; instilling those values may seem simple, but many parents miss the mark and actually model the opposite.”

Throwing money at social problems like racism or violence doesn’t resolve them, Albert says. But children can.

“The energy from kids’ excitement can make a real difference and we need their energy focused right here at home,” says the mother of four. “They see problems; it’s up to us to give them the tools to address them.”

The following tips can help parents teach their children personal integrity and social responsibility, giving them the keys to world peace.

• Never lie in front of your kids. It may seem obvious, but many parents lie in front of their children or encourage them to lie; misstating a child’s age to save money on movie tickets or allowing them to take credit for school projects completed by the parent.  These seemingly inconsequential lies suggest it’s OK, even good, to distort the truth. This causes long-term damage a million times more costly than whatever was gained in the short term.

• Give your kids a reason why. Author Mark Twain once said that the two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why.  If you fail to tell your kids why we are here, you have missed the opportunity to
figure out what motivates them and gets them excited. This is the most important key to getting kids’ cooperation and empowering them to help the world.

• Don’t criticize your children. Criticism is toxic, so why do almost all parents criticize their kids?  When we focus on what they aren’t, they believe they can’t. This creates angry children who express their pain by bullying others.  It’s better to tell them how you feel rather than what you think of them, e.g., “I feel frustrated that you didn’t listen to me,” or “Can you say that in a more loving way?”

• Don’t speak badly about other people. This is probably one of the hardest things to do, considering we’re a generation that pays for gossip.  Speaking badly about others teaches kids to look for what they view as the negative in others and take joy in sharing it.

• Model charity. Actions speak louder than any words. When you teach kindness to children, they tend to feel empathy and have more successful lives, a crucial step toward achieving world peace.

Once we tackle the issues plaguing America, then as a model nation, we will be ready to tackle world peace, Albert says. Kids are hungry to form an identity and make their mark on the world. It’s easier to try to bring peace to another country, but that never works. We need to start at home.

About Rachel Albert

Rachel Albert is a certified court reporter and business owner. “Quest to Telos” is her debut novel; it’s being used by a private school to develop an inspirational, critical-thinking curriculum for middle-school students ready by the summer. Albert is currently working on a sequel. She is a staunch advocate of boosting teen literacy while inspiring kids to make a difference starting with their own hearts.

Braley Blasts Wasteful Spending at Center of GSA Scandal PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 13:46

House panel investigates $800,000 Las Vegas conference


Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today strongly criticized the US General Services Administration (GSA) for allowing the wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars in connection with a conference held at a luxury Las Vegas casino in 2010.  The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing this afternoon to investigate the scandal.  Braley is a member of the committee.


In 2007, Braley led questioning of another GSA employee accused of wrongdoing who was called to testify before Congress.  GSA Administrator Lurita Doan was ultimately forced to resign for improperly holding political briefings on federal property.


“The GSA won’t need a mind reader to know my feelings about their weekend in Vegas: it was an utter and complete waste of taxpayer dollars,” Braley said.  “It’s unconscionable that while taxpayers are struggling through a recession, a federal agency is wasting their money on fancy catered meals and luxury hotels in Las Vegas.  Something’s got to change – and every person responsible for this outrageous behavior needs to be held fully accountable.”


On April 2nd, the GSA Inspector General issued a report highlighting “excessive, wasteful, and…impermissible” spending in connection with a regional conference held at the M Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2010.  The report found that costs for the conference exceeded $800,000, including $75,000 paid for a bicycle-building project, excessive spending ($146,000) on meals, and over $136,000 in planning costs for the conference, including hotel stays at the Ritz Carlton Las Vegas.


The report prompted GSA Administrator Martha Johnson to resign.


Other improper spending at the conference included a clown, a mind reader, and a comedian.


The GSA Inspector General has asked the Department of Justice to consider criminal charges against GSA employee and event organizer Jeffrey E. Neely.  Neely was subpoenaed to testify before the Oversight Committee today.


# # #

Governor Quinn Urges Illinoisans to Volunteer Time and Talents during National Volunteer Week PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 13:41 Connects Volunteers with Opportunities

Across the State

SPRINGFIELD – Monday, April 16, 2012.  Governor Pat Quinn today joined the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Serve Illinois Commission in encouraging Illinoisans to give back to their communities by volunteering during National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, 2012.  Those who are interested in volunteering can find a resourceful search portal that connects them to over 100,000 volunteer opportunities throughout Illinois by visiting


“Service to others is the rent we pay for our place on earth,” Governor Quinn said. “National Volunteer Week is the perfect opportunity to give back, set a great example for others and work together to strengthen our communities.”


According to the Volunteering in America Report, last year nearly 2.8 million Illinoisans gave back through churches, non-profits, businesses, little leagues, scout troops and countless other organizations.  They volunteered 378.5 million hours, or about 34.8 hours per person.  This service equates to over $8.4 billion in economic impact.  Along with time, a majority of Illinoisans gave at least $25 to a local charity.


"We believe that service is one of our State's greatest resources,” Scott McFarland, deputy director of the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, said. “We envision an Illinois where everyone recognizes their ability and responsibility to help strengthen their communities by volunteering."


Research shows that communities with higher rates of volunteering see decreased crime, improved governmental services and higher educational achievement among other things.  In addition, evidence supports the idea that those who engage in their communities on a regular basis live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.


The website is a project of DHS and the Serve Illinois Commission: "Building Stronger Communities Through Service.”  More information and volunteer opportunities can be found at




Region 6 Homeland Security Board and Safeguard Iowa Partnership Announce Week 11 of “20 Weeks to Preparedness Program” PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ross E. Bergen   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 13:22
Release Date: April 23, 2012
Release Number: 12

Welcome to Week 11 of the 20 Weeks to Preparedness Program brought to you by the Region 6 Homeland
Security Board and Safeguard Iowa Partnership. This program will help to better prepare you and your family,
a little at a time, over a 20 week period. Each week new preparedness information will be shared including a
list of items to gather or purchase for your disaster supply kit. Sign up at
be-prepared to receive weekly reminders and announcements related to the 20 Weeks to Preparedness program.

Use this program to gather items for your kit in small steps over a five month period. Remember to change
and replace perishable items by the expiration date. Purchasing the food suggested by this program would last
approximately 3-5 days.

Place in storage bin:

One gallon of water per person per day
Paper, pen, pencil, and scissors
Protein bars

Personalized Item (if applicable):

Litter pan

To do:

Determine signal with family and friends to be used to communicate safety.

Additional assistance is available by contacting your local Emergency Management Coordinator at
563-484-3050 or visiting their website at Visit Safeguard Iowa Partnership at, on twitter @safeguardiowa or Facebook at

The Region 6 Homeland Security Board is comprised of fourteen counties in eastern Iowa that coordinate homeland security planning,
training, exercise, response, and recovery. The counties included are Benton, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Cedar, Clayton, Clinton,
Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, Jackson, Johnson, Jones, Linn, and Scott.

The Safeguard Iowa Partnership is a voluntary coalition of the state's business and government leaders, who share a commitment to
working together to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters in Iowa.

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