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Grassley works to extend E-Verify and programs for legal immigration PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 06 August 2012 14:56

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate last week gave unanimous approval to bipartisan legislation co-authored by Senator Chuck Grassley to extend the E-Verify program, an Internet-based system that allows employers to determine the eligibility of employees to work in the United States.

“E-Verify has proven its value in helping to enforce immigration laws by giving employers a tool to help determine if individuals are eligible to work in the United States,” Grassley said.  “Extending the current program is very necessary until E-Verify is made a requirement for employers.  Programs like E-Verify and the others extended by the Senate safeguard opportunities for legal workers and recognize the value of legal immigrants to American society.”

E-Verify allows employers to submit voluntarily information reported on an employee’s Form I-9 to the Department of Homeland Security, which works in partnership with the Social Security Administration to determine worker status.  There is no charge to employers to use E-Verify, and more than 392,911 employers use the program.

E-Verify was established in 1996 as a pilot program with employers in five states allowed to participate.  The pilot program was reauthorized in 2001, expanded to employers in every state in 2003 under Grassley-authored legislation, and reauthorized again in 2008 and 2009.  Since 1996, improvements have been made to decrease error rates with an appeal process, a self-check for individuals to make certain their information is correct, and a photo-tool capability to improve the ability of employers to determine if document photos match potential employees.

In addition to a three-year extension of E-Verify, Grassley helped to pass three-year extensions for several other immigration programs, including:

1)      Non-Minister Religious Worker Visa Program.  This program allows up to 5,000 Special Immigrant Visas to be issued each year.  Religious organizations can use these visas to sponsor foreign nationals to come to the United States and provide services for people in some of the nation’s neediest and most underserved areas.

2)      Immigrant Investor Program.  This program, known as EB-5, is designed to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.  The program allows 10,000 visas each year to individuals who invest between $500,000 and $1 million in a new commercial enterprise that creates or preserves at least 10 full-time jobs within two years of the investor’s admission to the United States.

3)      J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.  This program waives a requirement for up to 30 international medical graduates each year to return to their country of nationality for at least two years before returning to the United States if the J-1 physicians agree to practice medicine in a federally designated health professional shortage area or medically underserved area.

Grassley serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary which is responsible for immigration legislation.

 

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MGA Announces 50th Anniversary Meeting PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Emily Marthaler   
Monday, 06 August 2012 14:54

Celebrating 50 Years of Bringing Midwestern Governors Together

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) announced today that it will be holding a meeting in Des Moines on September 26, 2012 to celebrate its 50th anniversary of bringing governors together to work on public policy issues of significance to the region. The meeting, America's Smartland - Deploying the Midwest's Entrepreneurial Spirit, will celebrate the collective strengths of the region and will address how the Midwest can better showcase itself to other regions and countries.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, current MGA Chair, will host the meeting as part of his agenda that focuses on promoting a positive Midwestern narrative. The Midwest is the crossroads for much of the nation's economic activity with a strong work ethic and climate for business and job growth that reflect a diverse mix of industries. Midwestern states are proud of their high-quality schools and colleges with tremendous research capabilities; a stand-out standard of living, which includes vibrant cities and towns, affordable housing, and cultural, recreational and sporting activities; incredible opportunities in agriculture and the biosciences; a robust freight industry and infrastructure; and four distinct seasons with breathtaking natural wonders.

"I am excited to welcome Midwesterners to Des Moines to take part in this 50th anniversary meeting of the MGA. The Midwest has a rich history and we can continue to build on our past strengths to ensure a promising future. I look forward to the discussions on the region's efforts to attract talent, leverage our competitive advantages, and nurture the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit," said Governor Branstad.

Jesse Heier, MGA executive director, said, "The Midwest has so many positive attributes to highlight, including the vast network of community colleges, our agricultural heritage, cutting-edge technologies in manufacturing and energy production, and is a great place to raise a family. In addition, our entrepreneurial spirit is one of our best kept secrets, which we intend to share at this meeting."

 

As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the MGA is also sponsoring a video contest to reshape how others perceive the Midwest. This effort complements Governor Branstad's initiative and will help the world learn about the tremendous strengths of the region through the eyes of Midwesterners.

The meeting, which is open to the press and public, will be taking place at The World Food Prize's Hall of Laureates. For more information on the meeting and the video contest, visit www.midwesterngovernors.org/AmericasSmartland.htm.

 

 

 

 


 

The Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) is a nonprofit, bipartisan organization that brings together the governors of the region to work cooperatively on agriculture, economic development and energy issues of importance to the Midwest. The current members of the MGA are Gov. Pat Quinn (Ill.),Gov. Mitch Daniels (Ind.), Gov. Terry Branstad (Iowa), Gov. Sam Brownback (Kansas), Gov. Rick Snyder (Mich.), Gov. Mark Dayton (Minn.), Gov. Jay Nixon (Mo.), Gov. John Kasich (Ohio) and Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.).

 
Harkin Announces Iowa Schedule for August PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Monday, 06 August 2012 14:36
Series of events focused on retirement, energy security and drought recovery

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced a week-long series of events across Iowa for the upcoming August work period focused on retirement security, drought recovery, and energy security.  A list of his public events follows.

Monday, August 6th – Fairfield/Keokuk
12:00 P.M.     Briefing and Tour of Energy Projects
Fairfield Arts & Convention Center
200 North Main Street
Fairfield

Senator Harkin will visit the City of Fairfield to tour some of the innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency installations they have pursued.  Mayor Ed Malloy will lead Harkin on the tour of their “Go Green” program, a citywide effort to save energy through conservation measures.  Media interested in attending should join the group at the Arts and Convention Center for this briefing and tour.

3:00 P.M.     Drought Recovery Event
Maple Long Farms
3129 243rd Avenue
Keokuk

Senator Harkin will visit Lee County farmers to see the impacts that the drought is having on Iowa agriculture.  He will take a walking tour of a corn field to explore the impact of the dry weather and then talk to area farmers who have also been impacted.  Harkin is a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Tuesday, August 7th – Fort Madison
10:15 A.M.     Tour Siemens Energy
2597 Highway 61
Fort Madison
**Media is invited to join the Senator outside of the building after the tour.

Harkin will tour this local wind turbine manufacturer to see firsthand how the Production Tax Credit for wind aids our energy security as a country, but also creates jobs locally.

3:30 P.M.     Davenport Industrial Park Rail Spur
601 Blackhawk Trail
Eldridge

Senator Harkin will dedicate a rail spur north of Davenport in Eldridge.  Harkin secured a $3 million grant in the 2005 surface transportation reauthorization bill for this project.  The cities of Davenport and Eldridge expect this project to increase local economic development and create jobs.

Wednesday, August 8th – Des Moines
1:30 P.M.    Des Moines Retirement Security Event
Des Moines Central Public Library Meeting Room
1000 Grand Avenue
Des Moines

Harkin, as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, recently released a new report examining the retirement crisis in America and laying out a bold proposal to rebuild the private pension system.  The report comes after a series of HELP Committee hearings on retirement security that Harkin has convened over the last two years.   He is hosting a series of events in Iowa intended to start a discussion about the retirement crisis in our country.

Thursday, August 9th – Mason City
3:00 P.M.    Mason City Retirement Security Event
North Iowa Area Community College
500 College Drive
Muse Norris Conference Center, Room 180 B +C
Mason City

Similar to the Des Moines event, this is the second public discussion in the series on retirement security. 

Friday, August 10th – Des Moines/State Fair Day!
9:00 A.M.     Iowa State Fair

Senator Harkin will spend his annual day at the fair, touring the Agriculture Building, visiting the Iowa Pork Producers tent, and taking in the scenes.

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Quinn Administration Releases Study: Without Pension Reform, Illinois Will Spend More on Pensions than Education by 2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nafia Khan   
Monday, 06 August 2012 14:28

Property Taxpayers Far More Protected With Comprehensive Pension Reform That Includes Responsibility for School Districts Than Without

CHICAGO – August 5, 2012. Governor Quinn released data today prepared by the Illinois Office of Management & Budget (OMB) that shows without comprehensive pension reform, Illinois will spend more on pensions than education by Fiscal Year 2016. The budget office performed the district-by-district analysis based on current projections to examine the long-term funding challenges of the state if comprehensive pension reform is not enacted. The analysis was released just days after Governor Quinn called a special session dedicated to pension reform on August 17.

"Illinois cannot continue down this path at the expense of our children,” Governor Quinn said. “We must enact comprehensive pension reform that eliminates the unfunded liability to repair our pension system and give the next generation the education they deserve.”

Under current actuarial assumptions, required state pension contributions will rise to over $6 billion in the next few years if no comprehensive pension reform is enacted, which will continue to result in significant cuts to education. According to the analysis, continued cuts to education as a result of fast-rising pension costs will cost downstate and suburban school districts far more than assuming the responsibility to pay for their compensation decisions over time.

For example, if comprehensive pension reform that includes a phased-in normal cost realignment is enacted, downstate and suburban school districts would assume $49 million in new normal pension costs in Fiscal Year 2014. However, if no such reform is adopted, downstate and suburban school districts would instead see their budgets reduced by $152 million, according to current projections.

School districts would be far more protected from a property tax increase with comprehensive pension reform that includes the responsibility to pay for compensation decisions, than they would be without.

Every day that Illinois' pension crisis goes unresolved, the unfunded pension liability grows by $12.6 million. Without comprehensive pension reform, funding for key services such as education will continue to be squeezed out. Governor Quinn has proposed a comprehensive pension reform plan that eliminates the unfunded liability over the next 30 years and includes a phased-in normal cost realignment that would ensure school districts have a stake in the contracts they negotiate.

The complete analysis is attached.

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