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Treasurer Fitzgerald May Be Looking For You PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Karen Austin   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:13

DES MOINES, IA (05/07/2012)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald is looking for over one million people who are owed over $239 million. The spring publication of the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt is scheduled to begin soon and includes thousands of names that have been received in the last year. Fitzgerald wants Iowans to know they do not have to wait much longer to see if they have extra funds coming to them in the form of unclaimed property.

"We look forward to the spring publication every year," said Treasurer Fitzgerald. "Our goal is to locate the rightful owners of the unclaimed property. I'm sure that when we publish the new list, a lot of individuals will be pleasantly surprised." Treasurer Fitzgerald would also like to remind individuals that they do not have to wait for publication to begin to see if they have unclaimed property. "Individuals can go to www.greatiowatreasurehunt.com and search the entire Great Iowa Treasure Hunt list for their names anytime. It just makes sense to check."

The Great Iowa Treasure Hunt program has returned over $143 million in unclaimed property to more than 359,000 individuals since Fitzgerald started it in 1983. Unclaimed property refers to money and other assets held by financial institutions or companies that have lost contact with the property's owner for a specific period of time. State law requires these institutions and companies to annually report and deliver unclaimed property to the State Treasurer's Office, where it is held until the owner or heir of the property is found. Common forms of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed checks, life insurance policies, utility security deposits, and safe deposit box contents.

Everyone is encouraged to keep watch for the upcoming publication coming soon to papers across the state. In the meantime, all Iowans are urged to visit www.greatiowatreasurehunt.com and check to see if they have unclaimed property. Individuals may also send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For those who prefer corresponding by mail, please write to: State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald, Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, Lucas State Office Building, Des Moines, IA 50319. Please make sure to provide current name, previous names and addresses.

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Governor Quinn Releases 2011 Tax Returns PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Andrew Mason   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 11:26

CHICAGO – May 4, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today released his 2011 federal and state income tax returns to the public.

In addition to his $157,321.60 in salary as Governor in 2011, Governor Quinn reported interest income of $4.81, a taxable refund of $1,222, $18.04 in income from the Foreign Currency Fee litigation settlement fund and a $42,500 withdrawal from his SEP (Simplified Employee Pension Plan).

Governor Quinn paid $38,094.86 in federal income tax and $7,750.73 in state income tax in 2011. Quinn also paid $3,938 in property taxes on his home on the west side of Chicago. The Governor donated $11,562.72 to charity.

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Physican Payments Sunshine Act delays PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 13:56
Friday, May 4, 2012

Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Herb Kohl, authors of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, today made the following comments on news that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) needs more time to implement the act and will not begin data collection until 2013.  CMS’ statement is available here.

Grassley said, “It’s disappointing that CMS won’t even collect data at all this year.  The process has dragged on long past the statutory deadline for implementation.  Consumers need to know more about the financial relationships between their doctors and drug companies sooner rather than later.   It’s important that CMS get this right in every way, including the usefulness and accuracy of the information.  Given all of the extra time, CMS will have no further excuses for not accomplishing these goals.”

Kohl said, “While I am disappointed by this delay and the timeline, I do look forward to working with CMS to finalize the rules so that data collection can begin in January 2013.”

The senators developed the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which was signed into law in 2010, after revelations of significant under-reporting of the amount of payments received by certain doctors from drug and device companies.  The new law requires public disclosure of the financial relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical, medical device and biologics industries. The law required the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish reporting procedures for applicable manufacturers to submit information, as well as procedures for making that information available to the public, by October 1, 2011. CMS issued the guidance in December after more than a year of pushing for a timely release from Grassley and Kohl.

Grassley and Kohl have written to the acting CMS administrator with questions about implementation, including when CMS will begin data collection.

The text of the Grassley-Kohl April 4 letter to the acting CMS administrator is available here.

The acting CMS administrator’s May 3 response is available here.

 
Public Warned To Avoid Circus Performances Due To Serious Animal Welfare And Public Safety Concerns PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Catherine Doyle   
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 13:55
Circus performing In Illinois is target of federal charges following In Defense of Animals’ complaints

East Moline, Ill. (May 4, 2012) – Following multiple complaints made by In Defense of Animals (IDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has filed numerous charges against the Liebling Brothers Circus (aka Great American Family Circus) for willful violations of the Animal Welfare Act that include inhumane care and unsafe handling that put the public at risk. The circus will be performing this weekend in East Moline and at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds on May 5 and 6.

“The Liebling Brothers Circus has finally been exposed for its flagrant mistreatment of animals and for subjecting families and children to unsafe conditions,” said IDA Elephant Campaign Director Catherine Doyle. “Families that care about being kind to animals should avoid the Liebling Brothers Circus and any other circuses that force wild animals to perform.”

The more than 30 violations cited by the USDA include repeated noncompliance with federal requirements for veterinary care, safe handling, and housing from 2007 through 2011. The charges specifically cite:

•       Failure to provide veterinary care for elephant Nosey’s chronic skin condition, leaving her with thickened layers of dry, cracked dead skin
•       Chaining Nosey so tightly that she could not move or lie down, and keeping her in filthy conditions
•       Handling Nosey in a way that was dangerous to the public
•       The escape of a spider monkey

The USDA has also confirmed that yet another investigation is pending on Liebel, following recent complaints filed by IDA that concerned his children, who are minors, handling a dangerous wild animal in public (the elephant Nosey). This could lead to even more charges being filed. Nosey has a history of aggression, and seriously injured an inexperienced adult handler in 2004.

IDA has been monitoring this circus owned by Hugo Liebel for several years and has filed multiple complaints with the USDA for willful violations of federal animal protection law that endangered the animals and families attending the circus.

“This is just one more example of why wild animals do not belong in circuses, where they are cruelly trained, chained and intensively confined, and forced to travel and perform,” added IDA’s Doyle. “No compassionate family should want to be a part of that.”

For more information, please visit www.HelpElephants.com.

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Bullying the Farm Kid PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Laurie Johns   
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 13:40

It’s a parent’s nightmare; seeing your child bullied for standing up for his lifestyle or what he believes.  When your child is targeted or ridiculed by another child, you see it as an opportunity for intervention; teach appropriate behavior so each child comes to appreciate their differences while hopefully becoming more respectful adults.

But, what do you do if your child is bullied by an adult, an adult who disagrees with your child’s lifestyle or pokes fun at his passion?  That’s what happened to Jamie Pudenz at the recent FFA Convention in Ames.

Jamie, a shy farm kid from Carroll, is one of those rare finds; a teenager who works hard, doesn’t complain and speaks glowingly about his parents, his teachers, his fellow students.  He sets the bar high for himself and constantly strives to push himself.  His passion for the land and livestock is the very quality you hope all future farmers possess.

FFA Advisor Kolby Burch says when this football-playing  junior takes on a new project, he tackles it with the seriousness of a preacher preparing for a Sunday sermon.  It was quite a challenge for him to enter the FFA Public Speaking contest.  His entry, “Unveiling the HSUS and the Need for Animal Agriculture,” was written with passion.   He spent months preparing and practicing out-loud.  He sailed through preliminary contests, but took the stage at state, knowing it was a controversial subject for a wider audience. “I knew going to the state level, I’d face resistance; I put it in the back of my head, just went to the front of the room, took a deep breath and got started,” said Jamie.

According to the rules, the purpose of the FFA Public Speaking event is “to develop agricultural leadership, communication skills and promote interest in leadership and citizenship by providing member participation in agricultural public speaking activities.”  While the rules state that judges don’t need an ag background, they should all be ‘competent and impartial.’  Normally, judges are chosen well in-advance, but because of a scheduling snag, a last-minute FFA alumni from Illinois became the third judge.

As soon as Jamie finished his speech, the volunteer judge, decked out in Birkenstock sandals, white socks, a rumpled cotton shirt and jeans, leaned forward and asked, “Is feeding cattle 100 percent efficient?”   Jamie wasn’t sure at first what to say.  “I closed my speech about livestock and how we feed them corn because they can’t be sustained on grass alone, so I told him we feed them out and it’s much more efficient.  But before he let me finish he said, “No, you’re completely wrong.”

He then proceeded to berate Jamie on how animals are meant to be raised on pasture and raising them indoors is a perversion of nature, horrible for the environment and the cause of all society ills. He then jabbed a finger at him and said, “And, another thing, you call this a ‘Works Cited’ page? Who taught you how to do a ‘Works Cited’ Page? This is a mess!”

Jamie says he was surprised by the harsh tone and unsure of the implications of the comment, so he defended his English teacher who helped him with the ‘Works Cited’ formatting.

FFA advisor Burch says the burly teen held his composure, but was choking back emotion after he left the room, his confidence shaken.

Jamie Pudenz isn’t interested in a career as a public speaker or writer.  He doesn’t dream of being a politician or sportscaster.  He wants to be a farmer, just like his dad.   “We need livestock production around. If I don’t’ start talking about the threats against us now, it’s myself, my friends, my neighbors who will pay. If HSUS shuts us down, I’m out of a job. So are so many other kids like me."

I believe, as most farmers do, that consumers should have a choice when it comes to their food and farmers do their best to provide them.  There will never be a return to the days when everyone farmed the same way and consumers didn’t care for the narrative.  Consumer demand for choice should be the tie that binds Iowa’s incredibly diverse farmers together.    And, choosing one type of food production over another shouldn’t involve ‘shooting the messenger,’  whether that messenger is a consumer, a farmer or a child.  Anything less is, well, being a bully.

But, at the end of the day it seems to me Jamie can already teach a valuable lesson to those who think it’s someone else’s job to ‘do PR.’   He won’t give up.  His quest to tell the diverse story of ag is even bolder because of the resistance he met in a wider audience.   He’s ready for ‘round two.’  How about you?

 
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