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Cornyn, Grassley Celebrate ‘Meat Monday’ PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 12:00

WASHINGTON – The offices of U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today celebrated ‘Meat Monday’ with barbeque beef brisket, ribs, and sausage from Hill Country BBQ restaurant.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees our nation’s ranchers and farmers, recently encouraged its employees to boycott meat on Mondays:


“In some of the toughest times they’ve seen in recent memory, Texas cattle ranchers and farmers deserve an Administration who works with them, not one who undermines them with boneheaded decisions from bureaucrats in Washington,” said Sen. Cornyn.


“This is a reminder to USDA that it’s supposed to advocate for American agriculture, not against it,” Sen. Grassley said.

Cornyn, Grassley Celebrate Meat Monday.jpg

Branstad, Reynolds pledge continued efforts in addressing the drought’s impact Iowa PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Iowa Governor's Office   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 11:37

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds used their weekly press conference this morning to highlight the state’s ongoing efforts to address the impact of this summer’s drought in Iowa.

The most recent USDA drought monitor shows that almost 75% of Iowa is now in the D-2 severe drought stage and roughly 25% in the D-3 extreme drought stage. At the time of the governor and lieutenant governor’s drought summit in Mt. Pleasant less than two weeks.

Joining them at the news conference was Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp, Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino, and Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Mark Schouten.

Branstad and Reynolds will continue their efforts, and wanted to ensure Iowans were aware of the following measures that have been taken thus far:

  • Two weeks ago, the governor sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack informing him of the worsening conditions in Iowa, where he requested the secretary to declare Secretarial Disaster designations for Iowa counties as soon as they qualify. Also in the letter, the governor asked the Secretary to open up CRP lands as soon as federal guidelines allow. Just recently the Secretary announced the USDA will open CRP lands for emergency grazing in 26 counties in Iowa and that CRP lands will be open for the rest of Iowa counties as soon as Aug. 2nd for haying and grazing.
  • Last week, state-owned land managed by the DNR was opened for our farmers and producers for emergency grazing and haying. Having access to additional 6,000 acres is something that should provide immediate relief to those who are being impacted by these conditions.
  • Another item of significant concern was the need to relax certain rules and regulations that would hinder swift relief for those who need it the most. There is an increasing demand for access to hay, straw and stover for our livestock producers. As a result, the governor approved a proclamation that temporally waives certain weight and width and hours of service requirements for those transporting hay, straw and stover.
  • The state opened up DOT roadside ditches as another avenue for our farmers to bail hay. Through this program, farmers can obtain a DOT permit to bail roadside ditches as an economical and efficient way for producers to obtain hay for their livestock.
  • The Beginning Farmer Loan Program, through the Iowa Agricultural Development Authority, allows all farmers to obtain low-interest loans to assist them with costs for eligible projects. Despite its name, the program eligibility is not based on the age of the farmer, but rather, the net worth of the applicant.
  • Administration staff, along with key state agency staff members, will hold weekly conference calls with leadership of Iowa farmer and producer associations. The purpose of these calls is to ensure that the concerns and questions of our impacted farmers and producers are being heard and addressed.
  • The administration has launched a web site,, to act as a one-stop-shop on all flood-related items and news from state government.

“We want to assure Iowans that every effort will be taken on their behalf with regard to this drought,” said Gov. Branstad. “We will work with federal partners, state agencies and departments, and all Iowans as we combat the effects of this drought. This is a top priority of my administration.”

The lieutenant governor noted that the administration is taking a proactive strategy with regard to the drought.

“Our administration firmly believes that the best way to attack any potential disaster is through a proactive strategy,” said Reynolds. “We will continue to engage every department and agency that has a role to play in these efforts.”

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Governor Quinn Signs New Laws To Protect Illinois Seniors PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 11:08

CHICAGO - July 28, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today continued his commitment to protecting Illinois seniors by signing several new laws to protect senior citizens in Illinois. The new laws will promote safety, increase oversight and accountability for caregivers and help authorities identify and respond to reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“Our seniors deserve our respect and protection against those who would take advantage of them,” Governor Quinn said. “Safeguarding seniors from exploitation and abuse will make our state stronger.”

House Bill 5653, sponsored by Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), allows a prosecutor to ask a court to freeze a defendant’s assets if he or she is charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person. This is an initiative of AARP Illinois, which has advocated for greater protection against elderly financial exploitation committed by family and non-family members. This new law will help prevent defendants from spending stolen money or using stolen money to mount an expensive legal defense that would make it more difficult for victims to collect proper restitution. The legislation passed the General Assembly unanimously and goes into effect Jan. 1.

House Bill 5266, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) and Sen. John Millner (R-Carol Stream), allows law enforcement and fire departments access to reports of elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or self-neglect compiled by senior service providers. Under current law, law enforcement cannot access this information without a specific instance of abuse or suspected abuse that has been reported to them. Senior services providers will now be able to proactively work with law enforcement in advance of visits like well-being checks or emergency calls, to inform them of circumstances that suggest evidence of elder crime or neglect. The legislation passed the General Assembly unanimously and goes into effect Jan. 1.

House Bill 3986, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Chicago), allows the Illinois Department on Aging to receive reports of elder abuse or neglect from senior service providers via the internet. This legislation will make it easier for the state and law enforcement to receive and act on reports of elder abuse and neglect. The same laws governing the use of confidential information will still apply to online reporting. The new takes effect immediately.

House Bill 5098, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Costello, II (D-Sparta) and Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton), further expands the state’s efforts to recognize and respond to crimes against the elderly by requiring probation officers’ training to include courses on how to recognize and appropriately respond to crimes against the elderly. The law is effective Jan. 1.

House Bill 5009, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Verschoore (D-Rock Island) and Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-Moline), will help nursing home patients found outside of their facility to be safely assisted and returned to their residence. This legislation requires nursing home residents’ identification wristlets to include their facility’s telephone number. The law is effective immediately.

Senate Bill 3204, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport), changes the Illinois Power of Attorney Act by specifying that certain financial agreements and contracts do not interfere with a person’s primary power of attorney. This bill is an initiative of the Corporate Fiduciaries Association of Illinois to address the difficulties banks, attorneys and trust officers frequently encounter when handling multiple powers of attorney. A previous version of this legislation was vetoed by Governor Quinn because it did not contain enough protections for the elderly. This alternative legislation was negotiated by AARP Illinois, the Department on Aging, the Corporate Fiduciaries Association of Illinois, the Illinois Bankers Association and the Illinois Credit Union League. It takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill 3690, sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) and Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), requires the state budget to take into account the costs of achieving the goals of Illinois’ long-term care rebalancing initiative by providing new definitions of populations that need varying levels of care. The legislation is an initiative of the Health Care Council of Illinois and will provide guidance to agencies under the governor charged with providing long-term care to vulnerable demographics including frail older adults. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill 680, sponsored by Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and Rep. Esther Golar (D-Chicago), will further protect the elderly and other vulnerable populations by creating additional requirements for safe lifting of residents with limited mobility in nursing homes and healthcare facilities. The law will require the training of nurses and other care providers on safe lifting techniques and equipment that will reduce risk for fragile residents and give them more input on how they are lifted. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect Jan. 1.

Senate Bill 3499, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), reduces litigation costs for the Department of Public Health and nursing care facilities by clarifying the conditions under which they can waive their right to contest state fines. The law provides that any facility can only waive the right to contest the state’s penalty by paying a settlement amount of 65% of the fine within 10 days of receiving the penalty notice. This legislation is an initiative of the Healthcare Council of Illinois (HCCI), which sought to streamline the process by which state fines against nursing homes may be offset by the federal fines also levied against violators. The law is effective immediately.

Senate Bill 3420, sponsored by Sen. Mike Jacobs (East Moline) and Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), allows the owners of nursing homes to serve as representatives of residents to whom they are related. Current law allows other employees of nursing homes who are related to residents this same ability. The law is effective immediately.

House Bill 5134, sponsored by Rep. Michael Unes (R-East Peoria) and Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria), amends the Nursing Home Care Act to formalize the informal dispute process between the Department of Public Health and nursing care facilities that occurs during state licensing and review. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill 3171, sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan (D-Quincy) and Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), brings Illinois law into compliance with federal law regarding the release of health records of the deceased. The new legislation allows the executor of the estate of a deceased person who holds their power of attorney to receive their medical records or designate another to receive them. If an executor does not exist and no one holds power of attorney over an estate, the legislation allows medical records to be released to a personal representative of the deceased who meets certain conditions under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This law was passed by the General Assembly unanimously in consultation with the federal Department of Health and Human Services and the Illinois State Bar Association. It takes effect immediately.



Surveys Show Religious Men are Vulnerable to Pornography PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 10:41

Several studies and surveys show that many men, regardless of religious piety, share a curiosity in internet pornography:

• 54 percent of pastors said they viewed porn within the past year in a recent survey

• 50 percent of men viewed pornography within one week of attending a marital fidelity event, including Promise Keepers, the survey revealed

• 47 percent of religious respondents said porn is a problem in their home, reveals a Focus on the Family poll

• Every second, 28,258 internet users view pornography, according to worldwide porn industry stats. The majority are men

“Here is more evidence that too many of us – including ‘religious’ people – are looking for answers outside ourselves. We have a growing spiritual void in North America, and the ripple effect ranges from pornography to drug abuse to domestic violence as people struggle to fill the void,” says Dennis Bank, author of Sanctiprize (

“Psychology, medications and these other pain relievers do nothing to get to the root of the problem, which is our need to get back to the inherent wholeness we were born with.”

If highly religious men have an advantage over those who are less religious, it’s not much, he says. Beyond pornography, there are pressures that may make pastors and other religious leaders especially vulnerable to sexual temptation, says Bank, a nondenominational minister. They include:

• Leadership is often a lonely job. More than half of the pastors answered that they feel privileged to be a church leader, but they’re also easily discouraged and lonely, according to a LifeWay Research survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors.

• They have a position of power. As the authority on religious leadership in their spiritual community, followers seek a pastor’s guidance and influence. Some followers become attracted to the pastor because of his position and may seek sexual affection.

• A lack of accountability. Ministers tend to have a great amount of flexibility in their schedule, and they are trusted figures in their church. For smaller and more isolated congregations, these factors are especially strong.

• No one to share pressures and struggles with. Most of a pastor’s inner circle of friends tends to be members of his church, and these struggles may be of a sexual nature. For fear of losing trust, he may act out a fantasy rather than tell someone about it.

• They feed off the approval of others. The nature of the job will attract some who have a strong need for constant approval from others. For that reason, sexual advances from a misguided church member may feel very affirming.

There are plenty of mixed messages in churches these days, Bank says.

“The problem is not that we Christians just haven’t found the right gimmick yet – gimmicks are part of the problem,” he says. “The problem is we have become distracted from the inherent goodness that God has given us all. What society needs is a spiritual enema!”

About Dennis Bank

Dennis Bank is a former officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and former businessman. He completed Calvary Chapel Bible School’s study program and attended the University of Saskatchewan, Acts Seminary (British Columbia) and the Royal Mounted Police Academy. He is currently an unaffiliated, non-denominational minister who offers seminars on reconciliation and healing.

Governor Quinn Signs Law to Increase Opportunity for Asian-Americans PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nafia Khan   
Friday, 27 July 2012 12:20

New Employment Advisory Council to Promote
More Diversity in State Government

CHICAGO – July 27, 2012. As part of his ongoing efforts to promote diversity in state government, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law creating the Asian-American Employment Plan Advisory Council. The council will focus on ways to encourage and assist Asian-Americans seeking employment in state government. The governor was joined by numerous legislators, community leaders and representatives from the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community and the Asian American Policy Network.

“Illinois is a place where people of all cultures and backgrounds should feel welcome,” Governor Quinn said. “This new employment council will help ensure that Asian-Americans know about and have access to opportunities.”

House Bill 4510, sponsored by Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) and Sen. Tony Muñoz (D-Chicago), creates the Asian-American Employment Plan Advisory Council, which will study the barriers Asian-Americans who seek state employment face and propose solutions that can foster diversity and opportunity. The unpaid, 11-member council will be appointed by the governor and comprised of experts on employment access and Asian-American issues.

“Illinois is a diverse state and we must make sure our agencies reflect that diversity,” Rep. Acevedo said. “As the Asian-American community continues to grow, it is important that they have the same opportunities and representation in state government that other groups have. I believe this new law will help to ensure that Asian-American constituents in my district and across the state are being properly served.”

“Asian-Americans make up nearly five percent of Illinois’ population, but only about two and a half percent of state employees,” said Senator Muñoz, a member of the Senate Executive Committee.  “This new law will help to encourage more equity in state hiring and help improve services for Illinois’ growing American communities.”

The new law also directs the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to prepare an Asian-American Employment Plan in conjunction with the new council. The report will analyze the percentage of Asian-American employment in all levels of state government and be submitted to the governor and the General Assembly with recommendations for how individual agencies can increase the Asian-American community’s representation in the state workforce. This legislation passed the General Assembly unanimously and is effective immediately.

"I am thrilled to have been a part of the process of getting this legislation passed,” said Theresa Mah, co-founder of the Asian American Policy Network. “The passage of this bill represents an important victory for the Asian-American community in our state and its implementation will make a huge difference in improving equity, accountability and service delivery for all Illinois residents. This legislation could not have been passed without the help of the Asian-American community along with a multiracial coalition of Black and Latino advocates supporting us."

"The signing of this bill is yet another milestone in the Asian-American community's civic engagement efforts leading to full participation and full integration of Asian-Americans into society-at-large,” said CW Chan, Chair of the Coalition for a Better Chinese Community. “The legislative process leading to the passage of the bill also demonstrates an increased understanding and support for our community's needs and experiences, thanks in part to advocacy work by many organizations, particularly during the redistricting process, in which CBCAC was fortunate to have played a significant role.”

Today’s ceremony in Chicago’s Chinatown follows Governor Quinn’s approval of the Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011, which protects the voting rights of racial and language minority groups in Illinois. The Act helps prevent a community’s electoral identity from being weakened by being divided into multiple legislative districts.


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