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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DID YOU KNOW... that a major problem in our community is the lack of affordable housing for all low income households?

DID YOU KNOW ....recent studies have shown that an additional 2,300 rental units are needed for households at or below 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) which is $12,630 for a one person household?  More specifically, nearly 800 low income persons with persistent mental illness struggle to find quality housing they can afford.

DID YOU KNOW ...most people in this group are extremely poor, relying on monthly disability payments of $639 which is just under $7,700 per year or 18% AMI?

DID YOU KNOW ... it is nearly impossible to find decent one-bedroom apartments that are affordable on this income.  The average cost for a decent apartment is currently $425 plus utilities?

DID YOU KNOW ... a local community Mental Health Center is set to break ground on a new 13-unit housing complex to help provide additional independent living opportunities for persons with mental illness? Please read the following press release for more information on how this organization is giving back to the Quad Cities.



Local Housing Corporation Begins Construction on New Facility

Groundbreaking Ceremony Scheduled for March 25, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.

Vera French is poised to begin construction on Vera French Court Apartments at 3465 Holiday Court in Bettendorf. The 13 unit complex will provide additional independent living opportunities for persons with mental illness.

Vera French Court will feature energy efficient one bedroom apartments, handicapped accessible units, a community room with kitchenette and computer center, laundry facilities and storage space. An outside patio, BBQ grill, picnic area and raised bed gardening area add to the amenities.

Residents living at Vera French Court have opportunities to participate in education classes and planned activities. Support services will be available on site.

Vera French's Housing Corporation has been successful in developing 105 units of affordable housing by combining public and private low interest loans and grants all across the Quad Cities.

Funding for this $2.3 million dollar project combines Iowa Finance Authority's Section 42 Low Income Housing Tax Credit with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funding. Additional funding sources include Iowa Department of Economic Development, Scott County Housing Council and Scott County Regional Authority and NAMI Scott County. Midwest Housing and Equity Group, Iowa Fund V is providing $1,365,000.00 of equity to the project.

For more information on Vera French, please visit their website at www.verafrenchmhc.org.

Russell Construction, located in Davenport, IA is serving as the General Contractor on this project. In the past Russell has constructed two 10 unit Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects, Vera French Manor and Vera French Terrace. Robin Andrews, located in Huntley, IL will serve as the Architect.

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Washington, DC - March 21, 2010 - A resolution introduced by Reps. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and John Kline (R-MN) honoring the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima passed the US House of Representatives today by a unanimous vote of 421-0. The Resolution honors the US Marine Corps and all members of the Armed Forces who so bravely fought and defended our country. Braley's father, Byard Braley, landed on Iwo Jima 65 years ago today.  Kline, a 25-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, is the lead Republican co-sponsor of the resolution.

"My father was a teenager when he landed on Iwo Jima," Braley said. "One of his neighbors, Harold Keller, was involved in the famous flag-raising on Mount Suribachi. They, like millions of Americans, fought bravely for freedom and equality and the integrity of our nation. I'm proud to represent a state and country that cherishes those same ideals, 65 years later. It's important that we take this opportunity to honor all the brave men and women who have defended our country and it's important today to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice on Iwo Jima."

The full text of the House Resolution honoring the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima is attached.

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Includes Critical Medicare Reimbursement Language Secured by Braley

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) released the following statement today after voting to pass the Senate Health Care bill and House reconciliation package.  Yesterday, Braley and a core group of other Representatives were able to achieve a major breakthrough in Medicare reimbursement policy that secured his vote for the bills.

"One of my biggest priorities has been fighting to fix unfair and inefficient geographic differences, and reform the Medicare system to one that pays Iowa's medical professionals for the high-quality, low-cost health care they currently provide. Just yesterday, we achieved a major breakthrough in reforming our Medicare reimbursement system. I'm proud to say that the House bill will finally fix these inequities, move us to a better reimbursement model that emphasizes quality over quantity, and help recruit well-qualified health-care providers to Iowa.

"This bill will decrease health insurance costs, expand access to quality, affordable health care, improve reimbursements for Iowa medical providers and allow Americans to maintain their choice of health insurance. This legislation will provide much-needed relief for thousands of businesses in Iowa's First District and will reduce our deficit by more than $143 billion over the next 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the 10 years after that. After reading the bill, listening to my constituents and debating the bill's provisions in Congress, I'm convinced this legislation is good for Iowa."

In Iowa's First District, the health care reform package voted upon tonight will:

· Improve coverage for 394,000 residents with health insurance.

 

· Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 156,000 families and 14,000 small businesses to help them afford coverage.

 

· Improve Medicare for 102,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.

 

· Extend coverage to 16,000 uninsured residents.

 

· Guarantee that 6,500 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.

 

· Protect 700 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.

 

· Allow 50,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents' insurance plans.

 

· Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 11 community health centers.

 

· Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $54 million annually.

 

# # #

Comprehensive reform increases access to affordable care, makes health insurance companies more accountable and includes historic investment in prevention, wellness

Education reconciliation provisions increase college affordability

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) issued the following statement after the U.S. House passed the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010.  With this vote, comprehensive health reform has passed and will go to President Obama for his signature.  The reconciliation package now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration next week.  Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

"With this vote today, the House took a major step forward in the fight to put American families and small business owners?not the insurance companies?in control of their own health care.

"This legislation makes the Senate-passed comprehensive bill even stronger by providing coverage to some 95 percent of Americans.  This will be affordable coverage, which will save thousands of lives and give peace of mind to those who have coverage now, but have a 50/50 chance of losing coverage in the next decade.  It will provide relief from skyrocketing and unstable premiums and holds insurance companies accountable to keep premiums down and prevent denials of care and coverage, including for pre-existing conditions.

"I am particularly encouraged that in passing comprehensive reform, we will, for the first time make an historic investment in prevention and public health to change our current sick care system into a true health care system.  These reforms will truly bend the cost curve and rein in rising health care costs.

"And we provide all of these reforms while also reducing the deficit by $138 billion over next ten years, and by $1.2 trillion more over the following decade; reducing waste, fraud and abuse, paying for quality over quantity of care.

"With the reconciliation package, the Senate is also on track to enact one of President Obama's key education priorities - a move that will make college more affordable and accessible.  The measure eliminates billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to banks and redirects that money to students and families in the form of increased Pell Grants to low-income college students, putting the priorities of students and families ahead of subsidies to lenders.

"We are on the cusp of history in this country.  I congratulate Speaker Pelosi and House leaders on this historic achievement and look forward to working in the Senate to get a final bill to the President's desk as soon as possible."

For a list of the immediate health benefits of the bill, please click here.

For a list of the key improvements to the bill, please click here.

For a list of the Harkin-led prevention benefits, please click here.

For more details about the education reconciliation proposal unveiled earlier this week, please click here.

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