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Governor Quinn Signs Law Further Assisting Adoptees’ Access to Birth and Identity Information PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Katie Hickey   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 09:01

Illinois Leads Nation in Expanding Adoptee Rights

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that will help adoptees and their birth family members learn more about their family history. Today’s action follows the historic Illinois Birth Certificate Access Law, signed by the Governor in 2010 and recognized as the most expansive adoptee rights legislation enacted in the nation. Today’s ceremony is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to protecting and improving the health of the people of Illinois.

“People have a right to know the first chapter of their lives and should have what they need to fill in the branches on their family tree,” Governor Quinn said. “This information can also be vital when determining inherited traits and medical history. This new law will help Illinois’ adoptees gain access to what is rightfully theirs.”

House Bill 5949, sponsored by State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), will help people gain information about their biological family history including obtaining original birth records when one of their grandparents was adopted as a child. In 2010, Governor Quinn signed a bill to provide adopted adults greater access to copies of their original birth certificates without having to get a court order. The law has helped adopted adults learn more about their birth families, including medical histories. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, more than 10,000 adoptees have gained access to these documents since the bill became law.

“Nearly 17,000 children have been adopted in Illinois in the last 10 years alone,” Department of Children and Family Services Acting Director Bobbie Gregg said. “We applaud Governor Quinn and the General Assembly for continuing to expand the rights of these adoptees and their families.”

“Governor Pat Quinn has recognized the importance of this very basic human right and has led the nation on restoring access to original birth certificates for adoptees,” Representative Feigenholtz, an Illinois born adoptee, said. “Governor Quinn has fulfilled the dreams of 10,500 adopted adults who have spent a lifetime trying to fill in the missing pieces of their lives. He will forever be remembered for his unflinching leadership on pushing these measures.”

“This legislation permits biological parents and adoptees the access they need to either learn about family health history or connect with each other if so desired,” Senator Martinez said. “Streamlining the process so information is obtained in a timely, efficient manner when needed through the courts is important.”

State Representative Ann Williams (D-Chicago) is also an adopted adult. However, her birth certificate remains under lock and key in the state of Pennsylvania.

“It is a bittersweet day for me as I anxiously await the opportunity to get a glimpse of my original birth certificate,” Representative Williams said. “Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation should follow the Illinois model and provide adopted adults with this simple piece of paper."

The new law is effective Jan. 1, 2015.

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Braley-Introduced Resolution on Congolese Adoptions Overwhelmingly Passes House PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 08:57

Passage of Congressman’s bipartisan resolution latest step to reuniting families

Washington, D.C. – The United States House of Representatives today passed H.Res 588—a resolution that Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) introduced with Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-07) and a bipartisan coalition—in an overwhelming and bipartisan fashion. The resolution officially requests that the Congolese government resume processing adoption cases and issuing exit permits which have been stalled, keeping parents like Michael and Erin Peat of Dubuque from bringing home their two children.

“It’s clear that the issue of uniting these families has bipartisan support—and that’s in line with the overwhelming support I’ve seen from Iowans who want to see this issue resolved,” Braley said. “We need to keep up the pressure on the Congolese government until all of the American families currently living in limbo are able to bring their children home.”

 

Less than a week ago, Braley wrote to Speaker Boehner urging him to quickly bring up the legislation for a vote in the House.

 

Hundreds of 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 Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) suddenly refused to issue exit letters, which is the final step allowing families to bring their children to the United States.

In June, Braley met with Erin Peat and other families from Clear Lake, Bettendorf, and West Des Moines who are facing delays in their adoptions from the DRC.

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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BETTENDORF ROTARY ANNOUNCES 2014-15 OFFICERS PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Glenn Kass   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 12:45

Sharon Sarver is President of club in 57th year of “Service Above Self”

Bettendorf, IA – The Bettendorf Rotary Club announces its officers for 2014-2015. The gavel was passed from Chelsea Powers to Sharon Sarver who will serve as President of the club for the next year.

Sarver is employed by Family Resources, Inc. and has worked in a variety of positions since arriving in 1996. She currently is responsible for grant writing and foundation relations. A member of Bettendorf Rotary since 2009, Sarver has served as co-chair for the club’s Lobsterfest event the last two years.

Here is the complete board roster for 2014-15:

President:  Sharon Sarver

President-Elect:  Kevin Kraft

Secretary:  Johanna Smith

Treasurer: Laurie Dobesh

Club Service:  Chris Glass

Community Service:  Jonna Schuler

Youth Service:  Dr. Jim Spelhaug/Dr. Theron Schutte

Vocational Service:  Tim Lane

International Service:  Dimy Doresca

Rotary Foundation:  S.K. Nanda

District Grant Chair: Jim Slavens

Immediate Past President:  Chelsea Powers

The Bettendorf Rotary Club (www.bettendorfrotary.com), chartered on May 22, 1957, has more than 100 members fulfilling the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” in a variety of local, regional and national community volunteer projects. The club meets each Wednesday at Noon at Fortune Garden Restaurant, 2211 Kimberly Road, Bettendorf. In addition to the website, you can find the club on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bettendorfrotary).

Bettendorf Rotary Club is part of Rotary International (www.rotary.org), founded in 1905 by Paul Harris, a Chicago businessman and University of Iowa alumnus. The international organization, now based in Evanston, IL, has more than one million members participating in 32,000 clubs located in more than 200 countries.

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Under Bipartisan Pressure from Reps Loebsack and Fitzpatrick, Ethics Committee Reverses Rule Change PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Hand   
Monday, 07 July 2014 08:30

Washington, D.C. – Congressmen Dave Loebsack (D-IA-02) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA-08) Thursday commended the House Ethics Committee for reinstating the disclosure requirements for privately funded travel for Members of Congress. Loebsack and Fitzpatrick had authored a resolution that would have forced the Ethics Committee to take this step had it not overturned the changes.

“I commend the Ethics Committee for coming to their senses and reinstated the disclosure requirement for privately funded travel. These moves only deepen the mistrust the American people have in Congress. It is important for the American people to have greater access to information about who is paying for these trips and I plan to continue to monitor any future rule changes,” said Congressman Loebsack.

“I applaud the Ethics Committee for their swift decision to overturn the changes to the travel disclosure requirements for members of Congress. In these times of heightened partisanship, it is important to recognize that Representatives from both sides of the aisle joined to express their wishes to be held to a higher standard,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick.

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Governor Quinn Hosts Annual “Iftar” Dinner PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Dave Blanchette   
Thursday, 03 July 2014 15:18

Governor Observes Ramadan with Muslim American Community Leaders in the “Peoples’ House”

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn was joined by more than 100 Illinois Muslim American community leaders Wednesday evening to observe Ramadan with a traditional “Iftar” meal at the Executive Mansion. Governor Quinn inaugurated the custom in 2013 as part of his agenda to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation.

“The sacred month of Ramadan is a time of fasting, sacrifice and reflection and I’m honored to participate in this special occasion,” Governor Quinn said. “With more than 500,000 members, Illinois’ Muslim American community is rich in its diversity and Ramadan reminds us that our common bonds far outweigh our differences.”

In 1805, Thomas Jefferson was the first U.S. President to observe Ramadan in the White House with a sunset dinner for Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, a Tunisian who was the first Muslim envoy to the United States. Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama have all hosted Iftar meals in the White House.

The menu for Governor Quinn’s Iftar featured halal lamb kabuli palau, mantoo (beef dumplings), dates, baklava (a honeyed pastry) and tea.

The Governor has strived to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation. This year, he approved plans to establish the first health care facility in the nation to meet the needs of Muslim American patients. He has also signed legislation to ensure that Muslim college students are not penalized for missing an exam on Muslim holy days. In addition, the Governor announced the creation of the first-of-its-kind council in 2011 to advise appropriate policy developments and other issues of significance impacting Illinois’ Muslims.

The diversity of Illinois’ Muslim American community is reflected in the Governor’s Muslim American Advisory Council. Appointees of the council – who serve with no compensation – represent many ethnicities and national origins, speak many different languages and represent a wide variety of professions. Governor Quinn today received the recommendations of his Muslim American Advisory Council’s third semiannual report.

The Council commended Governor Quinn for his efforts to increase Muslim American participation in the state workforce and foster greater cultural sensitivity by state employees, as well as for his condemnation of attacks on Illinois Muslim centers.

To learn more about Iftar and Governor Quinn’s Muslim American Advisory Council, see: www.muslimamerican.illinois.gov.

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