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Braley Meets with Erin Peat of Dubuque about Stalled Congolese Adoptions PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 13:03

Congressman discusses issue faced by hundreds of U.S. families encountering needless delays in adoptions from the Congolese government

Washington, D.C. –Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today met with Erin Peat of Dubuque to discuss stalled adoptions between American families and their children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Erin and her husband Michael Peat legally adopted two children from the DRC, however in the final stage of their lengthy adoption process, the DRC issued a moratorium on the ‘exit letters’ necessary to finalize their adoptions and bring their children home to the United States.

Braley also met with families from Clear Lake, Bettendorf, and West Des Moines who all face similar delays.

“Meeting with Erin and hearing first-hand about the red tape separating her family makes the issue even more important to me,” Braley said. “I cannot imagine being separated from my three children, and I will continue doing everything possible to ensure families like Erin’s are reunited as quickly as possible.”

Last month, the State Department announced that the Congolese government would issue a total of 62 ‘exit letters’—15 of which would be issued to American families—but the overwhelming majority of U.S. families have received no update from the Congolese government and their adoptions remain in limbo.

Approximately 460 families have had their adoptions suspended, but the Peats are one of only about 50 families that have had it occur at such a late stage in the process. They were granted their adoption visa by the United States. However, the DRC suddenly refused to issue exit letters, which is the final step allowing families to bring their children to the United States.

Braley has written the Congolese Prime Minister, the Congolese Ambassador to the United States, and Secretary of State John Kerry calling for a resolution to this issue.

 

 

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How to Overcome Excuses PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 15:17
6 Tips to Gain the Edge & Meet Your Goals

Great people throughout history often fail, quite miserably, before finally reaching their goals, says international business strategist Dan Waldschmidt.

“Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime; Winston Churchill lost every public election until becoming prime minister at age 62; Henry Ford went bankrupt five times; Albert Einstein was a terrible student and was expelled from school; Sigmund Freud was booed from a stage,” says Waldschmidt, author of “Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Achieve Outrageous Success,” (www.EdgyConversations.com).

“Ideas, brilliance, genius – they all mean nothing without the guts, passion and tenacity necessary to make your dream a reality. But often, people fall back on excuses and give up on trying to reach their goals.”

Most of us have dreams, and many of us have big ones, but few of us actually see them through, he says.

He offers six tricks for jumping off the excuse train and forge the path to your goals.

•  Avoid the need to blame others for anything. Mean, small-minded people know that they suck. That’s why they are so cranky and eager to point out others’ mistakes. They hope that by causing others to feel inadequate, everyone will forget about how woefully off the mark their own performance is. Don’t blame anyone, for any reason, ever. It’s a bad habit.

•  Stop working on things that just don’t matter. Not everything needs to be done in place of sleep. If you work for a boss, then you owe them solid time. You can’t cut that out. You can, however, cut out television time, meetings and anything else that gets in the way of achieving your goals. Replace entertainment with activity toward your goal.

•  Refuse to let yourself wallow in self-doubt. You’re alive to succeed. Stop comparing your current problems to your last 18 failures. They are not the same. You are not the same. Here’s something to remember: Your entire life has been a training ground for you to capture your destiny right now. Why would you doubt that? Stop whining. Go conquer.

•  Ask yourself, “What can I do better next time?” And then do it next time. If you spend a decade or two earnestly trying to be better, that’s exactly what will happen. The next best thing to doing something amazing is not doing something stupid. So learn from your mistakes and use the lessons to dominate.

•  Proactively take time to do things that fuel your passion. Exercise is a great example. Living in the moment requires you to live at peak performance. A huge part of mental fitness is physical fitness. A sparring or running partner is a great way to refresh physical competition. Physical activity accelerates mental motivation.

•  Apologize to yourself and those around you for having a bad attitude. Do this once or twice and you’ll snap out of your funk pretty fast. When you start genuinely apologizing for being a bad influence on those around you, you learn to stop whining and start winning.

About Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt is the author of “Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Achieve Outrageous Success,” (www.EdgyConversations.com). He is an international business strategist, speaker, author and extreme athlete. His consulting firm solves complex marketing and business strategy problems for savvy companies all over the world.

 
Governor Quinn Cuts Employee Parking Spots by 30 Percent PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Katie Hickey   
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 15:03

Ends Free Parking for Many State Officials to Save Taxpayers $100,000

CHICAGO – As part of his ongoing budget review, Governor Pat Quinn today directed state agencies to cut 80 paid parking spaces for state employees in downtown garages – more than 30 percent of the total spots reserved. The move will save taxpayers more than $100,000 annually and follows yesterday’s announcement that the state will save taxpayers an additional $55 million this year in reduced lease costs for state buildings. The cuts are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to make state government efficient and accountable to taxpayers.

“As part of my budget review this year, we will reduce paid parking spaces in downtown Chicago by more than 30 percent," Governor Quinn said. "By eliminating these parking spots for many state officials, we will save taxpayers another $100,000 annually and continue our work to make state government more efficient than ever before."

Governor Quinn has directed department heads to cut back on spots for employees in positions that do not require frequent fieldwork or involve public safety. While taxpayer-financed parking spots are appropriate for state employees whose posts require them to travel frequently to state prisons, juvenile detention centers or social service offices, they are not necessary for employees who spend the majority of their time in the office.

Unless their job involves frequent fieldwork or public safety, most agency directors, chiefs of staff and other high-level officials will now lose their free parking spots. Today’s announcement also includes a reduction in the number of shared “pool” cars that are stationed in downtown Chicago garages and available to state employees.

Yesterday Governor Quinn announced that the state of Illinois had again cut property leases. The state will save an additional $55 million by continuing to downsize the space it leases in the upcoming fiscal year. Since taking office the Governor has saved taxpayers more than $220 million by consolidating or eliminating more than 2.5 million square feet – roughly equivalent to emptying out Chicago’s Trump Tower.

Since taking office and inheriting decades of mismanagement, Governor Quinn has enacted major reforms that are saving taxpayers billions of dollars. The Governor has saved taxpayers more than $3 billion by overhauling Illinois’ Medicaid system, cutting Medicaid spending and rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. He also passed comprehensive pension reform that will save taxpayers more than $140 billion over the next 30 years.

Additionally, the Governor negotiated a historic contract with Illinois’ employee unions that includes $900 million in savings for Illinois taxpayers. The Governor also enacted comprehensive worker’s compensation reform that has saved state taxpayers more than $40 million to date. The state workforce is the smallest it has been in decades, with 4,000 fewer state employees than we had five years ago. All things included, over the last five years, Governor Quinn has cut state spending by more than $5.7 billion.

To build on this progress, Governor Quinn is proposing a five-year blueprint to secure the state’s finances for the long-term and invest like never before in education and early childhood. The blueprint includes a historic $6 billion increase in classroom spending over the next five years, doubling the investment in college scholarships for students in need and increasing access to higher education through dual enrollment and early college programs. The Governor’s plan was lauded by all three bond-rating agencies for its comprehensive approach to paying down bills, stabilizing the state's finances and enacting spending restraints.

For more information on Governor’s Quinn’s budget cuts please visit: http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/budget/Documents/Cuts_to_Budget_FY09-FY15.pdf

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Braley Statement on 5th Anniversary of Coach Ed Thomas’ Tragic Death PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 14:43

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today issued the following statement marking the fifth anniversary of the tragic death of Aplington-Parkersburg Coach Ed Thomas:

“Coach Thomas’ family and loved ones have worked to ensure that his legacy lives on and continues to positively impact communities all over Iowa. He had a tremendous impact on those around him, and that’s an enduring tribute to the life he led.”

In June 2009, Ed Thomas, longtime football coach at Aplington-Parkersburg High School in Parkersburg, Iowa, was fatally shot by Mark Becker, a mentally ill former football player. Becker had been released from a Waterloo, Iowa, hospital less than 24-hours prior to the shooting.

Recently, due to a request made by Rep. Braley, the Health and Human Services Agency (HHS) issued new guidance clarifying what healthcare providers can disclose in order to protect health and public safety while ensuring that a patient’s privacy is protected—allowing greater sharing of information with law enforcement.

Last year, Jan Thomas, wife of coach Ed Thomas, joined Braley to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on gun violence and mental health.

Following Ms. Thomas’ testimony, Rep. Braley sent a letter to HHS asking for clarification on whether the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rules interfere with the timely and continuous flow of health information between health care providers, patients, and families, and whether these rules can impede patient care and put public safety at risk. The guidance released today is a result of Braley’s letter.

HHS has also taken previous action as a result of Braley’s letter. In September 2013, HHS released a pocketbook guide to help both law enforcement and health care providers understand when and to what extent the HIPAA privacy rules permit providers to disclose information about an individual to law enforcement. The guide is designed to inform law enforcement on specific instances when they can disclose protected health information to the public in the name of public safety.

On the first anniversary of the shooting Braley introduced the Ed Thomas Act, which sought to clarify that existing HIPAA privacy requirements allow law enforcement agencies and medical providers to communicate more effectively when patients pose an inherent risk to the community.

As a result of this incident, Iowa passed a law requiring hospitals to notify law enforcement prior to discharge of a patient brought to a hospital for emergency mental health treatment by a law enforcement agency if an arrest warrant had been issued or charges were pending.

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Braley Works to Prevent Social Security Service Cuts PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Monday, 23 June 2014 14:22

Congressman: Forcing Iowa’s seniors to apply solely on online for services isn’t fair

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today joined a Congressional push to prevent the elimination of services at Social Security Administration (SSA) offices around the country—including offices in Iowa.

Beginning August 2014, SSA will no longer issue Social Security number printouts in its field offices.  In addition, beginning October 2014, SSA  field offices will stop providing benefit verification letters, except in emergency situations.  Many seniors rely on these verification letters for a variety of services. Those requesting this information would be able to do so only online or over the phone. Last year alone, 11 million Americans used SSA offices to request this information.

“Iowa has one of the highest senior populations in the country and forcing seniors—many of whom don’t have internet access—away from their trusted SSA offices and toward an online only environment isn’t the right thing to do,” Braley said.

 

In a letter to the head of the SSA, Braley urged the agency to continue allowing seniors to request this vital information in person, noting that telephone wait times for SSA services have risen drastically in the last year, and that many seniors lack internet access.

 

“It is critical that the Social Security Administration reverse its decision to discontinue in-person access to benefit verification statements,” the letter to SSA Administrator Carolyn Colvin reads.

Braley has consistently supported maintaining benefits to Social Security recipients, recently urging the Obama Administration to oppose proposed cuts to the program.

A copy of the letter is available online HERE.

 

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