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At Hearing, Loebsack and Bipartisan Witnesses Stress Importance of SECTORS Act PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Hand   
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 11:55

Washington, D.C. – At a House Education and Workforce Committee hearing today, Congressman Dave Loebsack, and both Republican and Democratic witnesses, stressed the importance of incorporating his SECTORS Act or sector strategies into the majority’s Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization that the Committee Majority is currently moving forward. Last month, legislation introduced by the minority included Loebsack’s language to retool and streamline our workforce development programs to train workers for specialized fields by bringing together key players in our communities.  The Majority bill includes some support for sector strategies but needs significant improvements, which is why Loebsack urged them to work in a bipartisan fashion on improvements moving forward.

 

“Every weekend when I am back in Iowa, I speak with employers about the importance of this approach to grow our economy now and in the future,” said Loebsack.  “We need to better organize training and education by bringing together all the critical people in the community, higher education, and management to determine how to save and create new industries and streamline the workforce system to get people the training they need to secure good jobs and the skills employers want."

 

To watch video of the hearing, click here.

 
Braley Op-Ed: Let’s Help More Families Adopt PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 09:18

When people ask me who’s had the biggest influence on my life, I tell them: my mom and my dad.  When I was a kid they taught me all sorts of things – about hard work, being a good citizen, saving money for a rainy day, and helping others less fortunate.  I can definitely say that I am who I am because of the way my parents raised me.

 

It’s a sad fact that not every child has the blessing of a loving family.  Through no choice of their own, many children in this country are forced to grow up in the foster care system, bouncing from one foster family to another.

 

The gift of adoption is an incredible one, providing an opportunity to unite loving parents who are willing to open their homes with a child in need.

 

Unfortunately, the process of adoption is often a long and costly one – the legal fees alone can be multiple thousands of dollars.  The financial hurdles can prevent a family that would otherwise be able bring a child into their home from pursuing an adoption.

 

Thankfully, there’s a proven solution that helps reduce the costs of adoption for families.  For the last decade, the Adoption Tax Credit has provided a one-time tax cut of up to $12,360 for each child a family adopts.  This tax break can offset a significant amount of adoption costs.

 

After the tax credit was last expanded, the number of families taking advantage of it jumped by nearly 50 percent.

 

This adoption tax credit is scheduled to expire at the end of 2012 if Congress doesn’t act to extend it.  So I’ve introduced the Making Adoption Affordable Act to both permanently expand the credit to $13,360, peg it to inflation, and make it refundable -- allowing more families to take full advantage of it.

 

One side benefit of promoting adoptions is that it ultimately saves taxpayers big bucks.  Why?  The federal government helps states pay the costs of caring for orphaned children.  As of 2010, foster care costs to taxpayers averaged $47,000 per child, per year.  The tax credit only costs taxpayers $13,000 – a huge savings.

 

Even in the broken politics of Washington, DC, I know that helping more kids find good homes will bring people from both parties together.  This is an idea that has bipartisan appeal – and I’ll be working hard to get this extension passed into law.

 

If you have questions, I encourage you to contact my office: http://braley.house.gov.

 

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On Tax Day, Braley Introduces Bill to Renew & Expand Adoption Tax Credit PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 15:32

Making Adoption Affordable Act will increase tax credit for families looking to adopt

 

Washington, DC – On the deadline for taxpayers to file their federal income tax returns, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) introduced a bill to renew and expand a tax credit for families that choose to adopt children.

 

The Making Adoption Affordable Act will permanently expand the federal adoption tax credit to $13,360 and make it refundable -- allowing more families to take full advantage of it.  Unless Congress acts, the current adoption tax credit of $12,360 will expire at the end of the year.

 

“Deciding to adopt a child is one of the most compassionate decisions a couple can make,” Braley said.  “Unfortunately, it also carries with it significant financial costs.

 

“Renewing and expanding the adoption tax credit will help remove a barrier to more families deciding to adopt.    It’s a small investment that provides a big return: getting more children into loving homes and out of the costly foster care system.

 

“When a policy puts more kids in loving homes and also saves taxpayers millions of dollars in the process, expanding it should be a bipartisan no-brainer.”

 

The federal government partners with states to care for orphaned children.  Adoption is preferable to foster care not only because it results in better outcomes for children, but because it is far less costly for taxpayers.  As of 2010, foster care costs to taxpayers averaged $47,000 per child, per year.

 

The adoption tax credit is a proven incentive to promote adoptions.  Before its last expansion in 1998, the tax credit was claimed after only 50,400 adoptions.  After expansion, in 2004, the tax credit was claimed in nearly 87,000 adoptions, representing a nearly 50 percent increase.

 

Last week, Braley traveled across eastern Iowa to discuss his effort to renew and expand the adoption tax credit with Jonathan and Kayla Craig of Des Moines, who claimed the tax credit after adopting their son Joseph last year.

 

A copy of the Making Adoption Affordable Act can be downloaded at the following link: http://go.usa.gov/yxQ

 

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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 progressiowa.org

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,” (www.QuestToTelos.com), 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.

 
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