Politics & Elections
Governor Quinn Signs Landmark Legislation to Expand Voting Opportunities in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 08:52

Streamlines Voting Process to Help Give More Illinois Citizens a Voice

OAK PARK – Governor Pat Quinn today signed landmark legislation to expand voting opportunities in Illinois. The new law is designed to encourage participation in elections and streamlines the registration and early voting processes. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to increase participation in our democracy and ensure that every voice is heard in Illinois.

“Democracy works best when everyone participates,” Governor Quinn said. “By removing unnecessary roadblocks to the ballot box, more residents will be able to exercise their constitutional right and have their voices heard. This new law will help more people across Illinois have a say in how their community, state and nation are run.”

“Illinois has made great strides for voting rights in the last few years with the passage of online voter registration and 17-year-olds voting in primaries," Cook County Clerk David Orr said. "Now thanks to this additional expansion of voting opportunities, voters will have more ways to register and cast their ballot before and on Election Day.”

House Bill 105, sponsored by State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) and State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), streamlines the registration and early voting process and addresses a number of issues that have made casting a ballot difficult in the past.

The new law will allow same day voter registration. It also extends in-person early voting hours and removes identification requirements for in-person voting by registered voters. The law also allows some public universities to serve as election-day in-person absentee voting centers, increases the window for vote-by-mail applications and expands early and grace period voting throughout the state.

The changes are in effect for the upcoming November general election.

The new law corrects several past voter participation problems in Illinois. Many people’s work hours or other commitments do not permit them to take advantage of existing early or regular voting opportunities. Nearly 13 percent of Americans move in an average year, and unless these people remember to update their voter registrations, they may not be able to vote.

“As we approach Independence Day, this legislation reminds us of one of our most precious freedoms – the right to vote,” Representative Currie said. “This sweeping new law encourages participation in the democratic process like never before. I was proud to sponsor the measure in the House, and applaud Governor Quinn for signing it into law.”

“Voting is a right and a vital part of our country’s social and political fabric,” Senator Harmon said. “To encourage people to participate, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier to vote without weakening the integrity of the voting system.”

Governor Quinn has long been a champion of expanding voting rights and opportunities. Last year, Governor Quinn increased access to democracy across Illinois by giving 17-year-olds the ability to vote in primary elections if they are 18 years old by the general election date. In 2011, Governor Quinn signed the state’s first voting rights act. The Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011 protects the voting rights of racial and language minority communities throughout Illinois and encourages public participation in the redistricting process.

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Braley Fighting to Save Social Security from Joni Ernst PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Braley for Iowa   
Tuesday, 01 July 2014 11:38
Ernst would privatize Social Security, putting an end to guaranteed benefits and risking Iowans’ retirement on Wall Street
Des Moines, IA – Braley for Iowa responded today to state Sen. Joni Ernst’s latest effort to hide from her plan to privatize Social Security:

Braley for Iowa Communications Director Jeff Giertz said, “Bruce Braley is fighting to save Social Security from Joni Ernst, who would privatize the program, end guaranteed benefits, and put Iowans’ retirement savings in the hands of the Wall Street billionaires supporting her campaign. Even Ernst admitted her plan would cost taxpayers more, increasing the Social Security shortfall by $2.2 trillion. When it comes to protecting Iowans’ retirement security, Bruce Braley fights for working families and Joni Ernst puts her extreme ideology before Iowans.”

Braley for Iowa released a report yesterday highlighting the devastating impact of Joni Ernst’s plan to privatize Social Security for Iowa seniors. Among the findings: privatization plans like the one supported by Ernst could reduce traditional benefits by as much as half for future retirees, and if this plan were in place during the economic downturn, an average earner retiring in 2008 could have lost $26,000.

Rep. Bruce Braley is traveling across Iowa this week on his Protect Social Security and Medicare Tour, listening to Iowans discuss the importance of the programs to their retirement security and discussing his efforts to save Social Security from risky privatizations schemes that end guaranteed benefits and put Iowa seniors’ retirement in the hands of Wall Street.

Braley has also opposed efforts to reduce future Social Security benefits for retirees if cost-of-living increases were shifted to a so-called “chained CPI” calculation. Last month, Braley earned the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare PAC for his strong record of fighting for Social Security and Medicare. And just last week, Braley introduced legislation to block planned service reductions at 19 Social Security offices in Iowa.

In contrast, State Sen. Joni Ernst has called for privatization of Social Security, a position that would undermine benefits for current retirees. Sen. Ernst has also supported plans that would transform Medicare as we know it and pave the way for Medicare vouchers, increasing costs for retirees.

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Braley for Iowa Releases County-by-County Report Detailing Devastating Impact of Ernst’s Plan to Privatize Social Security for Iowa Seniors PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Braley for Iowa   
Monday, 30 June 2014 16:04
Her proposal would cut benefits in half while adding to program’s long-term costs

Des Moines, IA – Today Braley For Iowa released a new county-by-county report detailing the devastating impact of State Senator Joni Ernst’s plan to privatize Social Security and replace guaranteed benefits with personal savings accounts for Iowa seniors.

According to the report, Ernst’s proposal would require “radical reductions in benefits”—cutting future retirees’ benefits nearly in half and severely threatening the retirement security Iowans have earned through a lifetime of work. The average benefit for an Iowa senior is less than $14,000 a year. Ernst’s plan would also be particularly risky for seniors during an economic downturn--if Ernst’s private savings system had been in place in 2008, seniors retiring that year would have seen an average $26,000 loss on their investment.

Furthermore, as Ernst herself has admitted, her proposal to privatize Social Security would actually cost taxpayers more, increasing the Social Security shortfall by an additional $2.2 trillion over the next 75 years and forcing lawmakers to potentially raise taxes, decrease benefits or increase borrowing to keep the program solvent.

“Social Security is a promise--pay into the program during your working life, and the benefits you’ve earned will be there for you when you retire,” said Jan Laue, President of the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans. “But privatization puts the guaranteed benefit of Social Security at risk, jeopardizing retirement security for workers approaching retirement and future generations.  Rather than putting our retirement security in jeopardy, Iowans need a Senator who will fight to protect Social Security and ensure we keep our promises to our seniors.”

Bruce Braley believes we need to honor our promises to our seniors and ensure Social Security is available for our current and future generations. He has strongly opposed efforts to privatize Social Security, and also opposes any efforts to reduce future Social Security benefits for retirees if cost-of-living increases were shifted to a so-called “chained CPI” calculation.

The report also breaks down the importance of Social Security to seniors in all 99 counties across Iowa. In Polk County alone, more than 67,000 seniors rely on the promise of Social Security. More than 38,000 Iowa seniors count on Social Security in Linn County, in addition to more than 18,000 in Woodbury County.

In total, more than 600,000 Iowans currently depend on the promise of Social Security, including over 400,000 retirees, 76,000 disabled workers, 48,000 widows/widowers, and almost 39,000 children.


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Braley Advocates for Strong Renewable Fuel Standard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Braley for Iowa   
Monday, 30 June 2014 09:38
During visit to Mason City’s Renewable Energy Group, Braley says strong Renewable Fuel Standard
is critical to Iowa economy, job growth

Des Moines, IA – Rep. Bruce Braley visited Renewable Energy Group’s Mason City location today to tour the facility and discuss the importance of a strong Renewable Fuel Standard to the Iowa economy and job growth in our state.

Braley said, “The Renewable Fuel Standard is critically important to the renewable fuels industry, which supports more than 70,000 Iowa jobs. Any threat to the RFS is a threat to Iowa’s economy, and that’s why I’ve fought so hard to protect it. Iowans deserve a Senator who will work to expand Iowa’s renewable fuel industry and the benefits it provides to agriculture producers, not one who would undermine it.”

REG’s Mason City location is a commercial-scale, state-of-the-art biodiesel production facility that can produce approximately 30 million gallons of high-quality biodiesel each year from vegetable oils like soybean oil. According to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the Iowa biofuels industry supports more than 70,000 jobs and $5 billion in wages annually throughout the entire Iowa economy.

For months, Braley has fought the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed reduction in the Renewable Fuel Standard. In December, Braley was the only member of Iowa’s congressional delegation to testify with Gov. Terry Branstad at an EPA hearing against the proposed reduction.

In contrast, State Sen. Joni Ernst cannot be trusted to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard. She has said that she is “philosophically opposed” to the RFS, putting her position in line with the oil billionaire backers trying to roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard and out of step with Iowa agriculture.

 
League of Conservation Voters' Latest Ad Draws "True" Rating from Politifact PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Braley for Iowa   
Monday, 30 June 2014 09:21

"True": Politifact.com just issued a fact-check calling assertions that State Sen. Joni Ernst wants to abolish the federal Department of Education and the EPA “right on track.”

In addition, since the Education Department administers federal student loan programs, Politifact "asked the Ernst campaign what her plan for Pell Grants is, but we didn’t get a response."

Full fact-check: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/jun/27/league-conservation-voters/does-joni-ernst-want-abolish-education-department-/

Key passages:

Does Joni Ernst want to abolish the Education Department and the EPA?
Politifact.com
June 27, 2014
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/jun/27/league-conservation-voters/does-joni-ernst-want-abolish-education-department-/

[…]

"I do believe that we can make the cuts necessary within our federal government," Ernst said. She called for "closing the doors to the Department of Education at the federal level. And not just because it would save taxpayer dollars, but because I do believe our children are better educated when it’s coming from the state."

[…]

The ad says that if Ernst is elected, 213,000 Iowa students would lose their federal Pell Grants. According to federal numbers, that is the number of Iowans who received Pell Grants in 2011-12. We asked the Ernst campaign what her plan for Pell Grants is, but we didn’t get a response.

While answering the same question that prompted her Education Department response, Ernst also mentioned the EPA. "Let’s shut down the EPA," she said. Ernst gave the same rationale for this slash in government, saying, "The state knows best how to protect resources."

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