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Grassley Statement on Gun Votes PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 19 April 2013 13:38

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the following statement after the Senate voted on a series of amendments related to the pending gun legislation.  Grassley offered an amendment with Senator Ted Cruz that would reauthorize and improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, increase resources for prosecutions of gun crime, address mental illness in the criminal justice system, and strengthen criminal law by including straw purchasing and illegal firearm trafficking statutes.  The amendment failed to gain 60 votes, but gained the votes of nine Democrats and all but two Republicans.  No amendment gained the necessary 60 votes for passage.  A summary of the Grassley/Cruz bill can be found here.

“Our amendment gained the most bipartisan support of any comprehensive package that has been offered.  The Senate Majority and the President should now turn to our amendment as the path forward.  It’s a sensible alternative that was developed from the ground up in the Senate.  It’s got wide-ranging, broad-based support and takes a responsible approach to addressing some of the problems we’ve seen, all while protecting Second Amendment rights.”

Simon continues work to increase access to fresh food for all Illinois families PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kara Beach   
Friday, 19 April 2013 13:29

SPRINGFIELD – April 17, 2013. An advocate for rural communities, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today urged farmers’ markets to join her in fighting food deserts in Illinois. Simon urged markets to apply for a federal grant to purchase wireless machines that accept debit and credit cards, and Link cards. The machines enable low-income residents to purchase fresh, locally-produced food sold at farmers’ markets.

To date, 31 markets have received the Illinois Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Wireless Project grants coordinated by Simon’s office, and most of the markets will start accepting Link cards this spring. One of the newest recipients, EP!C Market, of Peoria, discussed its expansion plans during today’s Governor’s Rural Affairs Council (GRAC) meeting in Springfield.

“All Illinois families should have access to fresh, local foods,” said Simon, who chairs the GRAC. “With so many Illinoisans currently receiving food stamp benefits, expanding Link access is good policy. I encourage markets to apply for the federal funding that is helping us bring healthy, local food to our underserved communities.”

EP!C market provides employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Approximately 40 individuals currently work in the greenhouse, and plants are sold at local retailers. The organization looks forward to adding an outdoor garden, doubling the number of workers. EP!C will hold its first outdoor farmers’ market in May.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the Illinois EBT Wireless Project,” said Vice President of Development Kristen Berchtold. “It will make EP!C market more attractive and accessible to a broad customer base, and will enable us to provide more employment opportunities and vocational training for those we serve.”

Through Simon’s EBT wireless project, Illinois farmers’ markets receive free wireless machines that enable consumers to pay with debit and credit cards, or with Link cards. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of Midwestern farmers' markets accepting Link cards increased by around 65 percent between 2011 and 2012. Chicago alone saw a 56 percent increase during that period, meaning more low-income families can purchase fresh produce at farmers’ markets.

Applications for the EBT wireless project are still being accepted. For more information, please click here.


Iowa Business Specialty Court Pilot Project PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Iowa Judical Branch   
Friday, 19 April 2013 13:24
Today, the Iowa Judicial Branch posted information for the Iowa Business Specialty Court Pilot Project on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at

In addition, the Iowa State Court Administrator has approved a form for parties to submit qualifying legal disputes to the jurisdiction of the business court. The "Joint Consent for Case Assignment to the Business Court Pilot Project" form is also available in the Business Court Pilot Project section of the Iowa Judicial Branch website.

The business court will begin accepting cases on May 1, 2013.

Alternative Introduced to Target Violent Criminals, Safeguard Second Amendment PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 13:15

Grassley, Cruz Introduce Comprehensive Legislation That Targets Violent Criminals, Safeguards Second Amendment

WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ted Cruz of Texas are introducing an alternative amendment to gun legislation pending on the Senate floor.  Their “Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act” would preserve the Second Amendment while providing important fixes to existing law.

The Grassley-Cruz proposal would reauthorize and improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), increase resources for prosecutions of gun crime, address mental illness in the criminal justice system, and strengthen criminal law by including straw purchasing and illegal firearm trafficking statutes.

“When people study our amendment, they’ll see a sensible alternative that was developed from the ground up.  It’s got wide-ranging, broad-based support and takes a responsible approach to fixing problems with the current background check system,” Grassley said.  “We’ve put together an amendment that can effectively address some of the problems we’ve seen while protecting Second Amendment rights.  I’ve been very interested in the mental health aspect of this debate, so we include provisions to study and address that issue.  My oversight of Operation Fast and Furious highlighted some serious flaws within the gun trafficking and straw purchasing area, and Senator Cruz has done an exceptionally good job of helping develop that portion of our alternative.  In addition, we both understand the importance of ensuring that Second Amendment protections are in place for veterans, along with every other American.”

“I am glad to work with Sen. Grassley on this important amendment, which presents a reasonable alternative to the current legislation being considered while placing top priority on preserving Americans’ inalienable right to bear arms,” Sen. Cruz said. “Rather than restricting the rights of law-abiding Americans, we should be focusing on keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals, which this legislation accomplishes. While the Obama Administration continues to politicize a terrible tragedy to push its anti-gun agenda, I am proud to stand beside my fellow senators to present common-sense measures that will increase criminal prosecutions of felons who try to buy guns, criminalize straw purchasing and gun trafficking, and address mental health issues.”

Sponsors of the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2013 include Senators Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Dan Coats of Indiana, John Cornyn of Texas, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, James Risch of Idaho, Marco Rubio of Florida, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

This legislation will:

·         Improve and reauthorize grants for NICS database;

·         Require federal courts to submit relevant information to NICS;

·         Ensure that relevant mental health records are submitted by states to NICS;

·         Condition federal grant money for states on their submission of mental health records to NICS;

·         Increase federal prosecution of gun violence by establishing the Nationwide Project Exile Program and establishing a high level federal taskforce;

·         Study of the causes of mass shootings;

·         Responsibly addresses gun violence by criminalizing straw purchasing of firearms and gun trafficking;

·         Second Amendment Protections for Veterans;

·         Require the Department of Justice to explain to Congress why it has or has not been prosecuting gun cases;

·         Place Limitations on Fast & Furious type operations by DOJ;

·         Authorize FFL’s to utilize the NICS database to for voluntary background checks of employees;

·         Authorize FFL’s to access the FBI’s National Crime Information Center stolen gun database to ensure that a firearm is not stolen prior to acquisition;

·         Reauthorize the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) with amendments;

·         Address school safety by Reauthorizes the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Secure our Schools Program through 2023. 

Here is a section-by-section summary of the bill and a copy of the text of the bill.


United Planet Volunteer Donates $8,000 to Tanzanian School PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kristen Brandt   
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 10:28
United Planet volunteer alumnus, Adam Dodge, donates his charity award to United Planet’s elementary school project in Tanzania to build a computer lab

Boston, MA, April 17, 2013 – Adam Dodge, a former United Planet volunteer who taught English at an elementary school in Tanzania in 2008, recently donated $8,000 to the school to support the construction of a new computer lab.

United Planet, an international non-profit based in Boston, MA, works with local projects in over 40 countries to provide cross-cultural experiences for both travelers and host communities. After working in the computer technology industry for many years, Adam Dodge felt it was time for change, and for him, it was the perfect time to take the leap and volunteer abroad. Says Dodge, “It sounds like it’s really hard to do, but when you take a step back and look into it, it’s really a lot easier than you think.”

Dodge wanted a challenging experience in a place where he could also give back, so he decided to participate in a United Planet Volunteer Abroad Quest to Tanzania. Dodge took eight months off to travel and volunteer, and his time volunteering in Tanzania, he says, was clearly the highlight of the trip. “I’ve gained more than I could have imagined,” says Dodge, “You take away more from [the experience] than you feel like you are giving.”

So, naturally, when Dodge received last year’s annual Outstanding Contribution to the Firm Award from his employer along with $10,000 to donate to the charities of his choice,

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