National menu labeling effort will also take effect soon


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement after President Obama signed into law The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Senate-passed comprehensive health reform measure approved by the House earlier this week.  Harkin, as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was on hand at the White House to witness the bill signing.

"It's been a long debate and a hard-fought battle, but today, the hundred year struggle to provide affordable, quality health care coverage is over.  In signing this bill into law, President Obama today rewrote history, and in doing so, made access to health care available to millions of Americans. I've been on hand for a number of White House bill signings, but witnessing this particular event has been one of the most poignant of my career," said Harkin.

"I am most encouraged that with this reform, we will begin to recreate America as a genuine wellness society - a society focused on healthful lifestyles and preventing the chronic diseases that take such a toll on our bodies and our budgets.  And make no mistake, this bill doesn't just tinker around the edges; it changes the paradigm."

The Prevention and Public Health title of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act creates incentives to prevent chronic disease and rein in costs across the full health care spectrum.  At the federal level, creating a new inter-agency council to develop a national health strategy, creating a dedicated funding stream to support these efforts; at the clinical level with doctor training and coverage of preventive services and the elimination of co-pays and deductibles for these services; and at the grassroots level with grants for community initiatives that will support more walkable communities, healthier schools and increased access to nutritious foods in safe environments.

The legislation also includes a bipartisan compromise brokered by Harkin and others to provide mandatory disclosure of calories on menus and menu boards to help reduce rising obesity rates by enabling Americans to make healthier food choices.  The compromise combines key elements of the Menu Education and Labeling (MEAL) Act, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and the Labeling Education and Nutrition (LEAN) Act, sponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). 

"A critical component of the just passed federal menu labeling is that the nutrition information is right on the menu or menu board next to the name of the menu item, rather than in a pamphlet or in tiny print on a poster, so that consumers can see it when they are making ordering decisions," concluded Harkin.  "It's a common-sense approach that's also a step toward good public health."

Prevention and wellness provisions of the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will:

  • Provide $15 billion in mandatory spending to support prevention and wellness activities.
  • Eliminate cost sharing on recommended preventive services delivered by Medicare and all insurance plans available in the Health Insurance Exchange.
  • Support two independent, advisory task forces ? the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Task Force on Community Preventive Services (TFCPS) ? to strengthen and coordinate these bodies' efforts to conduct rigorous, systematic reviews of existing science and recommend the adoption of proven and effective services.
  • Support investments in the science of prevention to further expand the base of information available for evaluation by the task forces.
  • Provide coverage under Medicare, with no co-payment or deductible, for an annual wellness visit that includes a comprehensive health risk assessment and a 5-10 year personalized prevention plan.
  • Deliver clinical preventive services by  covering 100% of the cost of USPSTF-recommended preventive services for Medicare beneficiaries, providing enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds to states who offer USPSTF-recommended services, requiring coverage of tobacco cessation services for pregnant women in Medicaid and by making clinical preventive services a required benefit of insurance available in the Health Insurance Exchange.
  • Deliver community preventive services by investing in state, territorial and local public health infrastructure and by providing grants to implement recommended services.
  • Require chain restaurants to put calorie counts directly on their menus and to make other nutritional information available so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat.
Four advocacy groups working to create affordable housing and end homelessness released a report today demonstrating that unless the State of Illinois passes comprehensive tax reform even more people will lose their housing and become homeless. The entire report is available at www.housingactionil.org.

The report was based on a survey of state-funded providers of homelessness prevention funds, emergency shelter, homeless youth programs, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing.

Among the survey's key findings were:

1. Agencies are already turning people in need of housing away due to state budget cuts. Sixty-one agencies turned away 1,292 people in January 2010 because of prior year state budget cuts, representing 9% of the 13,720 people they were able to serve. This does not include additional people who were turned away for issues not related to state budget cuts, such as lack of bed space.

2. Agencies are already owed a significant amount of money by the state and are taking on additional debt to manage the crisis. In total, 54 agencies are owed $10.2 million from the state in delayed payments, or about $189,000 per agency. The average delay in state payments is slightly less than 3 months, with delays as high as 9 months.

3. State-funded programs create jobs and leverage federal funding. State funding for 61 agencies supports more than 1,600 jobs across Illinois. Forty-nine agencies are leveraging $47.7 million in federal funds every year that depend on a state match.

4. More budget cuts will result in fewer people receiving services and the loss of state-funded jobs. Based on the responses of 66 agencies, if programs are cut substantially in the FY11 budget, 79% of agencies would have to reduce services and 74% of agencies would have to lay off staff. Forty-one percent of agencies would have to eliminate programs.

The agencies surveyed are funded by line items that receive a combined $36.5 million in state funding. While that total represents only a small portion of state funding?less than 1% of the $4 billion in total General Revenue Funding for the Illinois Department of Human Services?the harm caused by cuts to these programs are troubling examples of the larger impact of cuts to human services overall.

"While Governor Quinn deserves credit for acknowledging the need for revenue increases, his proposal falls far short of what is needed," said Bob Palmer, Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn released his fiscal year 2011 budget proposal on March 10. He proposed over $2 billion in cuts. Although not included in his formal proposal, Governor Quinn is advocating for a 1% increase in the income tax.

The report was prepared by the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Housing Action Illinois and the Supportive Housing Providers Association. All four groups are members of the Responsible Budget Coalition.

"The 200-plus organizations of the Responsible Budget Coalition believe the best and fairest way to adequately fund all our essential priorities?education, health care, human services, public safety and more--is through comprehensive tax reform like House Bill 174, that passed in the Illinois Senate in 2009," said Lore Baker, Assistant Director for the Supportive Housing Providers Association.

St. Anthony Catholic Church in Davenport is celebrating a project milestone this Sunday, March 28 at 3:00 pm at 417 North Main Street in Davenport, IA. Please read the attached press release and project fact sheet regarding the dedication of St. Anthony Catholic Church.



Construction Ends for Historic Davenport Landmark

St. Anthony's Catholic Church to hold Dedication Ceremony on Sunday, March 28, 2010

Davenport, IA - The oldest church in Davenport, IA will reach an important milestone this week. St. Anthony's Catholic Church will hold a dedication ceremony on Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. at 417 N. Main Street in Davenport, IA to commemorate the completion of construction on their new building addition and renovation.

Founded in 1837 by Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli, St. Anthony's Catholic Church has been a major part of Quad City history over the last 172 years. Having outgrown their current facility due to this congregational outreach to meet the spiritual needs of the surrounding community; construction began on a 7,200 s.f. addition and renovation project to the existing parish in June 2009. This addition included a new Multipurpose Hall, Education Center, Gathering Center, Parish Offices and a warming kitchen, patio, and distribution window, affectionately named "McAnthony Window," which is used to serve meals to the homeless and underprivileged.

St. Anthony's McAnthony Window also received a covered patio area with heating elements for colder months. The McAnthony Window helps to meet the needs for those who have little or no other means of support. They previously prepared between 125 and 150 meals a day, 45,000 meals a year, out of a small, residential kitchen.

This project aims to achieve a more unified, aesthetically pleasing campus, which will attract attention to the historically significant church square and coincides well with the city's downtown beautification plans. In addition, it will create a unified square with historic emphasis placed on the original church building, a building to which Antoine LeClaire himself contributed the lead gift.

Russell Construction, located in Davenport, IA, served as the Design/Builder for the $1,800,000 addition and renovation project. Russell has delivered over $40 million in religious facilities in and around the Quad Cities area. SGGM, located in Davenport, IA provided architectural services. For more information on Russell Construction or SGGM, please visit their corporate websites at www.russellco.com or www.sggm.net.

March 23, 2010

ROCKFORD, IL ?
It takes a certain type of person to own a hot rod, muscle car or classic car. It's not just a car to them; it's a lifetime commitment and a passion. Keith Country Day School in Rockford, Ill., will celebrate this passion by showcasing more than 120 unique vehicles that span over 100 years at its annual Classics and Chrome Car Show presented by State Farm Insurance on Friday and Saturday, April 17-18, at the Indoor Sports Center (ISC), 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park.

The largest indoor car show in northern Illinois, Classics and Chrome features pre- and post-war classics; sports cars; muscle cars; hot-rod and custom cars; exotic and race cars; specialty cars and motorcycles. The two-day show will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 17 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 18. Admission is $6, with children younger than 10 admitted free.

Although the "heavy metal" is the main attraction, the Classics and Chrome raffle is one of the show's most popular features. Patrons can buy raffle tickets for just $100 or buy five tickets and get the sixth one free! The grand prize of the raffle is $35,000. Other prizes are:

2nd Prize: $2,500 Clodius & Co. jewelry set
3rd Prize: $1,000 in Mobil gas cards
4th Prize: Pepsi & Papa John's package ($1,000 value)
Tickets can be purchased by calling Keith Country Day School at 815.399.8823 or by going to classicsandchrome.com.
Attending Classics and Chrome is the perfect excuse to take a weekend getaway in Rockford. Check out these other great events during your stay:
Lighten your heart and share a laugh at Rockford Dance Company's presentation of Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Performances are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 17, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 18, at the Sullivan Center, 118 N. Main St., Rockford. Tickets are $20 and $32 and can be purchased by calling 815.963.3341 or at www.rockforddancecompany.com.
Immerse yourself in art on Friday and Saturday, April 16-17, during ArtScene, Rockford's citywide art exhibit of original works. Galleries and studios across Rockford will be open to the public free of charge from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Visit www.springartscene.com for a listing of participating galleries and studios.
The Rockford Art Museum will also feature two art exhibitions you won't want to miss: the Rockford Midwestern and the Young Artist Show - Youth Division. Now in its 68th year, the Young Artist Show is a Rockford tradition that showcases the strength and diversity of art programs across the region. This year marks the 71st presentation of the Rockford Midwestern, a biennial juried exhibition that draws the best works from artists from a nine-state region. Admission to the Rockford Art Museum is $6, $3 for students and seniors and free for children younger than 12. For more information, call 815.968.2787 or visit www.rockfordartmuseum.org.
For information on hotel accommodations in the Rockford Region, be sure to visit gorockford.com/hotels.
Classics and Chrome is a fundraiser for Keith Country Day School, an independent, nonsectarian, college-preparatory school serving students from age three through grade 12 from the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin area. For more information on Classics and Chrome, visit www.classicsandchrome.com or call 815.399.8823.
Rockford, IL, is located approximately 60 minutes west of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport off Interstate 90. For information on accommodations and things to do, visit www.gorockford.com. The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit organization that champions efforts to promote and further develop the Rockford Region as an overnight visitor destination. RACVB generates positive economic impact for the community through investments in tourism marketing, sales, promotion and advocacy.
###

    Davenport, IA, March 22nd, 2010:

    Village People will be performing at the Capitol Theatre, 330 W. Third Street, in Davenport, Iowa on June 5th, 2010 as the premiere kick-off event for QC Pride Fest 2010. Showtime is 8:00 PM on Saturday, with doors opening at 7:00 PM. The QC Pride Fest street festival will take place the following day, on Sunday, June 6th, 2010 from 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM on 2nd Street in the Rainbow District of downtown Davenport.  The opening act will be The Afrodisiacs, a disco band from Chicago.

VILLAGE PEOPLE  1977-2010 - Their 33rd Year!

    Recipients of a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (6529 Hollywood Blvd between Liberace and Betty Grable!) in 2008, the one-of-a-kind Village People is synonymous with dance music.  These six talented men combine energetic choreography with outrageous fun and lots of bumping and grinding, singing and dancing, provide great entertainment for all!

    Known as the world's disco icons, Village People in the last 3 years alone performed a full schedule of fairs, festivals, universities and casinos throughout the United States as well as Canada, Brazil, France, South Africa, Finland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Romania and Poland.  They were seen on Fox's Wendy Williams Shows, NBC's "Singing Bee" with Joey Fatone and in the new American Express TV commercial with Ellen Degeneres and Beyonce. The Guiness World Records book certified their Sun Bowl appearance on December 31, 2008 as the world's largest YMCA dance with over 40,000 fans "doing the YMCA moves" while the group performed.

    Reserved seat tickets for Saturday's show are $25 or $30 each.  Tickets can be purchased at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, 311 Ripley at Third St., Ph 326-8820 or 888-512-SHOW toll free, or on-line at www.thecapdavenport.com

    "What a great way to celebrate diversity!," says QC Pride Entertainment Chair, Rev. Rich Hendricks.  "This is a fun event for all to kick off QC Pride 2010."  Hendricks encourages people to invite out-of-town guests and plan ahead for Pride weekend.  "Our traditional QC Pride street festival will be the next day, Sunday, June 6th and will be only $3 admission. We want everyone to turn out for both events to support equality and diversity as we celebrate lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender persons in our community."  The street fest will feature local bands and entertainment, commercial and nonprofit vendor booths, door prizes, food, drink and fun.  More information is available at www.qcpride.org

Grassley will meet with Iowans from the American Coalition for Ethanol; the Hungry Canyons Alliance; the American-Israeli Political Action Committee; the American Gas Association; the Iowa Podiatric Medical Society; the Denison Job Corps; the National Association of Postal Supervisors; the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Prairieland Economic Development Corporation; the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists; the Iowa State Association of Letter Carriers; the Iowa Pork Producers Association; the National Association of Postmasters of the United States; Iowa State University; the Iowa Student Loan Board; the American Society of Association Executives; the Iowa Farm Bureau; and Kids Speak Up for Epilepsy.

Grassley will meet with young Iowans participating in the National 4-H Conference.  The 4-Hers are from Ankeny, Burlington, Fort Dodge and Lake Mills.

Grassley will meet with a young Iowan from Belle Plaine who is participating in the Close-Up program, which helps students increase their knowledge of government and citizenship.

Grassley will also meet with young Iowans from Clinton (Prince of Peace Academy); Eldridge (North Scott High School); and New Vienna (Beckman Senior High School. The students are participating in the National Young Leaders Conference.  During the conference, students visit with policy makers and other leaders in an effort to hone their understanding of current events and political issues.  Additionally, students take part in group discussion and decision-making exercises to prepare them for leadership roles.

· On Monday, March 22 at 2 p.m. (CT), Grassley met with community leaders from the Council Bluffs area.  The Iowans are in Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress about the community's priorities in the upcoming appropriations process as well as other legislative initiatives.

· On Tuesday, March 23 at 8 p.m. (CT), Grassley will host a live, interactive telephone town hall meeting with Iowans. Grassley will answer questions from constituents for the duration of the program which is expected to last approximately one hour.

· On Wednesday, March 24 at 8:30 a.m. (CT), Grassley will participate in a Senate Agriculture Committee mark-up.  The committee will consider the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010."

· On Thursday, March 25 at 9 a.m. (CT), Senator Grassley will participate in a Senate Judiciary Committee executive business meeting.

-30-

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) commented today on the findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report he requested on the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA).  The EEOICPA provides compensation to workers and their survivors for occupational diseases arising from toxic and radiation exposure in the government's nuclear weapons program.  Several Iowans who worked on the Department of Energy's Line 1 are currently pursuing claims with the Department of Labor (DOL) through the EEOICPA. 

"I requested an audit of this program after constituents reported delayed compensation, difficulty navigating the program and inconsistencies with the adjudication process," Senator Harkin said. "Some claimants had to wait three years just for the government to rule on their case, and that's unacceptable.  The recommendations the GAO makes in this report will help the DOL be more responsive to affected workers, and I am currently looking at the best way to implement these fixes."

Three agencies coordinate efforts to implement the EEOICPA: The DOL issues compensation payments and determines whether workers should be compensated for exposure to toxic substances; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates workers' exposure to radiation for purposes of compensation decisions and determines when workers should receive presumptive compensation without need for a radiation dose estimate; and the Department of Energy (DOE) provides records and historical information used by both NIOSH and the DOL under their authorities.

In its report, the GAO noted that Congress has established a Presidential Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health which regularly evaluates the quality and scientific soundness of radiation dose assessments, site profiles, and presumptive compensation evaluations that are conducted by NIOSH.  However, there is a "gap" because there is no comparable body to oversee the "quality, objectivity and consistency of [DOL] consultant physicians' work and no independent expert review of the scientific soundness of the detailed information in site exposure" matrices used in screening cases for compensability.

The GAO also found that while Congress established a DOL Ombudsman to assist claimants and to report on problems encountered by claimants through annual reports to Congress, "Labor has not publically responded to these concerns, nor developed formal plans for addressing the issues." As a result, "claimants have little knowledge that their concerns are heard or that they are being addressed."

GAO also noted that the Labor Department does not release its site exposure matrices due to concerns about releasing national security sensitive information.  By comparison, NIOSH has released extensive documentation on radiological conditions at nuclear facilities. GAO found that transparency would facilitate greater understanding on the part of claimants, and help improve the accuracy of the site exposure matrix used in decision making.  GAO recommended that DOL and DOE establish a "formal action plan" to facilitate a clearance process to make information on the site matrices public.

A full copy of the report GAO #10-302 can be found here: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10302.pdf.

WASHINGTON - Monday, March 22, 2010 - Senator Chuck Grassley today said he will offer an amendment during Senate debate on the health care reconciliation bill this week to apply the reform legislation to the President, Vice President, cabinet members and top White House staff.

"It's pretty unbelieveable that the President and his closest advisors remain untouched by the reforms they pushed for the rest of the country.  In other words, President Obama's health care reform won't apply to President Obama," Grassley said.  "Last December, the effort to apply any new law to administration political leaders was rejected by the Senate Majority Leader.  But there's no justification for the double standard, and I'll continue to work to establish fairness."

The Senate legislation passed last night by the House of Representatives includes an amendment Grassley sponsored and got adopted by the Finance Committee last fall to have members of Congress and their staffs get their health insurance through the same health insurance exchanges where health plans for the general public would be available.  During the closed-door negotiations on the bill late last year, the Senate Majority Leader carved out Senate committee and leadership staff from this requirement.

Subsequently, Grassley and Senator Tom Coburn attempted to offer another amendment to restore the requirement during Senate debate on the health care bill, but the Senate Majority Leader would not let their amendment to fix this loophole even come up for a vote.  In addition to Senate committee and leadership staff, the amendment Grassley and Coburn filed during the Senate debate would have made the President, the Vice President, top White House staff and cabinet members all get their health insurance through the newly created exchanges.  It would not have applied to federal employees in the civil service.

Grassley said, "It's only fair and logical that top administration officials, who fought so hard for passage of this overhaul of America's health care system, experience it themselves.  If it's as good as promised, they'll know it first-hand.  If there are problems, they'll be able to really understand them, as they should."

Grassley said the motivation for his amendments is simple:  public officials who make the laws or lead efforts to have laws changed should live under those laws.

"This is the same principle that motivated me to pursue legislation over 20 years ago to apply civil rights, labor and employment laws to Congress," Grassley said.  Before President Clinton signed into law Grassley's long-sought Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, Congress had routinely exempted itself.

The Congressional Accountability Act made Congress subject to 12 laws, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Veteran's Employment and Reemployment Rights at Chapter 43 of Title 38 of the U.S. Code, and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1989.

Today, Grassley is working to make sure Congress lives up to the same standards it imposes on others with legislation such as his Congressional Whistleblower Protection Act.

###

OMAHA, NE–(March 22, 2010)–Elizabeth Stella has been promoted from Director- Field Operations to State Executive Director of the Heartland States for Farmers Insurance Group of Companies®, announced Deb Settle, Senior Vice President, Northern Zone.

"I am pleased to welcome Elizabeth to the Heartland States.  She brings a wealth of insurance knowledge and experience to her new position, and we all wish her the best."

Ms. Stella joined Farmers in September 1998 as a Personal Lines underwriter in the Carlsbad, Calif. Regional Office. She moved to the Marketing support department in August 2000 as an AIMS representative.  In July 2003, Ms. Stella joined the California state office operation as a Personal Lines Agency Consultant and in August 2005 she became a division Marketing manager.

"I am looking forward to meeting and working with all of the Farmers agents, district managers, employees and customers throughout the Heartland States," notes Ms. Stella.  "It is an exciting move for me, and I am looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead."

In August 2007, Ms. Stella transferred to the Home Office Sales department in Los Angeles, Calif. as a marketing consultant and she was promoted to Director - Field Operations in December 2008.  In February 2010, she was promoted to State Executive Director of the Heartland states - Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Ms. Stella earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts from the New York University, Manhattan, NY.  She will reside in Omaha, NE where the Farmers Heartland States Office is located.  She will oversee Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.

Farmers is a trade name and may refer to Farmers Group, Inc. or the Farmers Exchanges, as the case may be.  Farmers Group, Inc., a management and holding company, along with its subsidiaries, is wholly owned by the Zurich Financial Services Group.  The Farmers Exchanges are three reciprocal insurers (Farmers Insurance Exchange, Fire Insurance Exchange and Truck Insurance Exchange), including their subsidiaries and affiliates, owned by their policyholders, and managed by Farmers Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries. For more information about Farmers, visit our Web site at www.farmers.com.

###

Grassley, Landrieu-led Caucus Urges Foster Youth Views

in Education Program Re-authorization

WASHINGTON - The Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Mary Landrieu, is urging legislators who will begin re-authorization of federal education programs to hear from foster youth in the process.

"There's nothing like first-hand knowledge to educate lawmakers about the policy decisions they'll make," Grassley said.  "Foster youth are the experts on what it's like to deal with the challenges of attending school while in foster care.  Their views could help to improve the experience for the next generation of kids."

"Foster youth have the power to influence legislation as evidenced by our success in pass of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act," Landrieu said. "Children who had spent time in our broken foster care system were invaluable during that process. What has been made clear to me is that we must empower youth to educate Congress about their unique experiences in foster care and the obstacles they face. They help us make better policy decisions."

Grassley and Landrieu, joined by 10 other members of the Caucus on Foster Youth, wrote to the chairman and ranking member of the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, which recently began holding hearings on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The caucus requested that the committee "invite youth in foster care to one of these hearings to testify about their experiences in the nation's educational system, and their suggestions for reform."  Reforms could include better record-keeping, more of an effort to keep students in the same school when their foster home changes, and better coordination between school personnel and child welfare agencies in developing strategies to help these youths.

The caucus members' letter is posted here.

Pages