All bills must pass the House and Senate with the exact same language before it is sent to the governor.  Thus far, the House and Senate have passed separate versions on all budget bills except two.  The two which made it through to the Governor's desk were vetoed.  Think of running bills through the Legislature like running the Bix 7; the House has reached the finish line but can't cross until it joins hands with the Senate and receives permission from the Governor.  In a scenario like this, joining hands and gaining permission to take the last step may be more difficult than running the previous seven miles.

The main issue in the Senate is making sure enough runners stay on the track to find the finish line.  Over the last two years when the Senate was divided at 32-18 with Democrats in control, Majority Leader Gronstal could move forward even when some members deviated.  This year with the Senate Democrats having a 26-24 majority, any one member has the same power as the Majority Leader.  If one person walks on any issue, 25 votes does not make a majority.  Delays in the Senate are not due to partisan politics.  In fact, it is the exact opposite.  Senate Republicans are more than willing to help Senate Democrats end this session as soon as Senate Democrats finalize what bills they want to run.

One issue that no politician can shy away from is the budget.  Picture the General Fund as a bucket which only so much money can flow into.  When the bucket overflows, money falls into the Cash Reserve Fund and when that bucket overflows money ends in the Economic Emergency Fund.  The real debate between the House and Senate right now is over how many items can be stuffed into the General Fund and whether or not some items should be paid out of the Economic Emergency Fund and Cash Reserve Funds.  At the core of this debate is whether or not additional ongoing expenditures for items like education should be funded out of one-time money from accounts like the Economic Emergency Fund.  Here is a bigger question, if we do this, how do you pay for emergencies when the Mississippi and Wapsi flood?

Throw redistricting into this marathon we're running and let's hope some don't just walk off the track.  The redistricting plan, which passed the Senate on Thursday, immediately put thirty-one Senators up for re-election.  Attitudes and personalities change when politicians are thrown into the same district and are facing a new campaign season.  This is becoming the opposite of the "not in my back yard effect."  Nearly everyone has shopped at least one time at Wal-Mart, yet not very many people want Wal-Mart in their backyard.  In this scenario politicians are asking themselves, "What do I get in my back yard?"  At the end of the day, there will be districts and a representative form of government and politicians should stop worrying.

Thank you for letting me represent you at the Capitol.

Shawn Hamerlinck
State Senate District 42

Amana - Celebrate the bonds of friendship as The Old Creamery Theatre presents The Dixie Swim Club, opening on the Main Stage Thursday, April 28 at 3 p.m.

Friends since their college swim team days, Sheree, Dinah, Lexie, Jeri Neal and Vernadette gather each year to reminisce and catch up with one another on their diverse lives. Join them as they travel through the years and talk about marriage, divorce, raising children, careers and growing older. These five funny ladies will make you laugh like only your old friends can as together they face all that life throws their way.

Written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, The Dixie Swim Club is directed by Sean McCall of Marengo. The cast consists of Krista Neumann of Iowa City; Gwendolyn Schwinke of Cedar Falls; Kristy Hartsgrove of Iowa City; Marquetta Senters of South Amana; and Licia Watson of Overland Park, Kansas.

The Dixie Swim Club runs through May 29 and is rated Theatre PG.

Tickets are $27 for adults and $17.50 for students. Call the box office at 800-35-AMANA or www.oldcreamery.com for more information or to purchase tickets. Money-saving season tickets packages are available through June 1, 2011.

The Old Creamery Theatre Company is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1971 in Garrison, Iowa. The company is celebrating 40 years of bringing live, professional theatre to the people of Iowa and the Midwest. We thank KGAN and Fox 28, our 2011 season media sponsor.

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley recently met with Elaine and Bob Bartel, of Eldridge, during their visit to Washington, D.C.  The Bartels were in Washington to visit their daughter, Christine Bartel, who formerly worked for Grassley and now works in the State of Iowa's Washington office.

Grassley and the visitors discussed the family's missionary work in Africa and issues under consideration by Congress.

"I'm glad that I got to talk with the Bartels while they were in Washington," Grassley said.  "This kind of dialogue, between elected representatives and the people we represent, is essential to making the process of representative government work."

Grassley makes it a priority to sit down with Iowans when they're in Washington.  In addition, in Iowa, he has conducted at least one constituent meeting in every one of Iowa's 99 counties every year since he was first elected to the Senate in 1980.  He also responds to every constituent letter, email and phone call.  Grassley communicates with Iowans on facebook, twitter and at http://grassley.senate.gov, and he is a regular guest on public affairs programs statewide, where he responds to questions from Iowans.

Meetings can be scheduled with Grassley at http://grassley.senate.gov.  Click on Info for Iowans and select Scheduling Requests.

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Invites Iowans to create own balanced budget, reduce deficit

Washington, DC - Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) invites Iowans from across the first Congressional district to attend a series of budget and deficit reduction town halls the week of April 25th. The town halls will be fully interactive and attendants will be able to decide how to balance the budget and reduce the deficit.

"It's long past due time for a serious, responsible conversation about our fiscal future - and that's why I want to bring the budget discussion directly to my constituents," said Rep. Braley. "These town halls will give Iowans an opportunity to see first-hand how the budget process works in Congress. Together, we can find the best ways to balance the budget and reduce our deficit. I look forward to hearing from my constituents and discussing these important issues with them."  

***The town halls will be open to all press.***

Attendants can RSVP on Rep. Braley's website at: http://go.usa.gov/TQa

Rep. Braley will hold four town halls over the week of April 25th:

Monday April 25th - Quad Cities
The Rogalski Center
St. Ambrose University Campus
Corner of Ripley and Lombard Street
Davenport, IA 52803
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Tuesday April 26th - Cedar Valley
Commons Ballroom
University of Northern Iowa
1224 West 23rd Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50614
4:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Wednesday April 27th - Dubuque
Grand River Center
500 Bell Street
Dubuque, IA 52001
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Wednesday April 27th - Fayette
Student Center Ballroom
Upper Iowa University Campus
East side of Washington Street in the middle of campus
Fayette, IA 52142
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

###

State will Supply 2,000 Radiation Detectors; Illinois Farmers to Donate Vital Supplies

CHICAGO - April 15, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a statewide humanitarian relief effort to harness Illinois' technological and agricultural resources to provide vital supplies for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will donate 2,000 critically-needed radiation detectors to assist the relief effort, and a collective response by the Illinois agricultural community will help supply much-needed agricultural products to Japan. The Governor's announcement marks the first statewide effort in the U.S. to pool resources and aid for the people of Japan.

"The people of Japan are our good friends, and the State of Illinois, our business community and our farmers are all working together to help them get back on their feet," said Governor Quinn. "We are working across Illinois to provide resources that address Japan's immediate needs, such as radiation detectors to help Japan with its efforts around the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. And our farmers are stepping up to make donations from their harvests, so that we can help the Japanese people over the longer-term."

"Japan was struck by an unprecedented disaster, and the Government of Japan is doing everything possible to address the damage," said George Hisaeda, Consul General of Japan at Chicago. "Words cannot express how deeply Japan appreciates the major donation by the State of Illinois, thanks to Governor Quinn's leadership.  Illinois is a true friend of Japan, and this partnership will help Japan will recover and prosper."

The earthquake and tsunami on March 11 has caused more than 13,000 to lose their lives, with more than 14,000 still missing and more than 100,000 without homes. In addition, radioactive contamination was released at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Illinois' donation of 2,000 personal radiation detectors with chargers, batteries and heat covers will support the operations of organizations, such Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, in their ongoing efforts to monitor and minimize the impacts of the disaster.

The radiation detectors are part of the state's Preventive Radiological and Nuclear Detection (PRND) program. Law enforcement officers and firefighters are equipped with the detectors to alert them to potentially hazardous radiological materials they may encounter in the line of duty.  Launched in 2009, the PRND program has deployed more than 1,200 detectors to more than 100 local law enforcement agencies and fire departments throughout the state.

"The need in Japan for these detectors is immediate," said Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the state's Homeland Security Adviser to the Governor.  "Illinois' world-class nuclear safety program enables us to help in this unprecedented situation."

Illinois-based Caterpillar Logistics Services, Inc. (Cat Logistics), a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., is providing transportation for the radiation detection devices from Illinois to Japan at no cost to the State of Illinois.

"On behalf of all Caterpillar employees, in particular our 23,000 employees in Illinois and the 5,000 employees we have in Japan, we are pleased to lend a hand and donate the transportation costs for this important humanitarian effort," said Steve Larson, Vice President of Caterpillar Inc. and Chairman and President of Cat Logistics.

The radiation equipment was originally purchased for $1.3 million by the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) with federal homeland security grants provided by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.  Since the equipment was purchased with homeland security funds Illinois received from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), state officials sought and received clearance from DHS before finalizing the donation.

Detector deployment in Illinois will remain unaffected by the donation; nearly 3,000 additional detectors are currently on hand in Illinois.

In addition, two state agencies, the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), have been working with agricultural producers and processors on a comprehensive plan to help address Japan's longer-term food needs. Discussions have been held with the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, Japan External Trade Organization, and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan to identify the areas of need that can be fulfilled through the relief effort.

"Japan is one of Illinois' largest trading partners. We have a strong economic relationship, including hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural trade alone each year," said Warren Ribley, DECO director. "After a calamity of this magnitude, the needs of the Japanese people will vary over the short and long-term, and the plan the Governor is announcing today will allow agricultural producers across Illinois to work in concert to respond to those essential and diverse needs."

Partners such as ADM, Illinois River Energy and the Illinois Farm Bureau/Country Financial have already acknowledged their commitment to assisting the people of Japan with hundreds of thousands in cash contributions. The plan currently in development will devise the best and most efficient delivery system to provide the greatest result for the people of Japan and mobilize all segments of the Illinois agricultural industry - individual farm producers, the commodity associations, agricultural associations and the food processing industry - to respond.

"In Illinois and in the agriculture community, we understand the importance of lending a helping hand in a time of need," said Tom Jennings, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. "The current challenges for the Japanese government are immense, and we recognize the need to plan now to best maximize the impact of the assistance that will be provided by Illinois' vast agricultural resources come harvest time."

"Farmers by their nature are willing to lend assistance to those in need," said Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson. "We are in a global economy. We need to help each other out of difficult situations."

Japan is the world's largest net importer of food products. The nation of more than 127 million people imports 60 percent of its food supply, about $50 billion of food each year. Disruption of trade and the Japanese agricultural industry due to the earthquake and tsunami make Japan more reliant on agricultural aid as the country recovers from this disaster.

###

Circuit boards, hard drives, and cell phones - Oh, my!  In honor of Earth Week, students in the Rivermont Collegiate Environmental Club are hosting an E-Waste Recycling Drive.  Students have collaborated with the cities of Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island, and Moline to bring bins to the Rivermont campus to collect e-waste free of charge for Rivermont students and their families, as well as faculty and staff.  Items will be collected all week, beginning Monday, April 18th through Friday, April 22nd.  Items that can be recycled include cameras, CD players, computers, copiers, printers, DVD players, keyboards, printers, televisions, cell phones, and more.  Students in the Environmental Club have created a fantastic opportunity for members of their school community to dispose of e-waste responsibly, easily, and free of charge!  What a terrific (and effective) way to observe Earth Week!

E-waste is a major environmental concern because it contains lead, mercury, nickel, chromium, lithium, and numerous other hazardous materials that may be released into the environment if not properly managed.  E-waste also contains valuable resources such as glass, scrap metal, wire, circuit boards, and fluorescent tubes.  When equipment is thrown away, these valuable resources cannot be recovered and additional pollution is generated to manufacture new products of virgin materials.  Reclaiming these materials helps save both our landfills and our environment.

How can I dispose of e-waste if I'm not a member of the Rivermont Community?

The Waste Commission of Scott County's Electronic Demanufacturing Facility (EDF), located at 1048 East 59th Street in Davenport, provides residents and businesses an environmentally sound disposal option for e-waste.  All material is demanufactured and, to ensure data security, is not refurbished or reused.

Ø      Bettendorf and Davenport residents that receive curbside collection can put e-waste out as bulky waste on recycling day.  This is a service included in the solid waste fee and no call-ins or appointments are required.  E-waste collected at the curb is delivered to the EDF.

Ø      Residents of Scott County can bring e-waste to the facility Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Residential e-waste from Scott County residents is charged at 20 cents per pound for TVs, monitors, and laptops, with all other e-waste being free of charge.

Ø      Rock Island County residents can bring e-waste to the facility Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for no charge with a valid Rock Island County address.  Rock Island County Waste Management Agency covers the cost of processing and disposal for its residents.

Rivermont Collegiate, located in Bettendorf, is the Quad Cities' only private, nonsectarian, independent, multicultural college-prep school for students in preschool through twelfth grade.  At Rivermont, a nurturing, stimulating, and structured environment maximizes the potential of each student, preparing them to engage fully in their local, national, and global communities.  Visit us online at www.rvmt.org!

 

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate, contact Cindy Murray at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or murray@rvmt.org.

 

-END-

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, is closing three locks on the Mississippi River due to high river levels.  The closures are necessary as the Mississippi River overtops lock gates making the locks inoperable.

On Friday, April 15, three locks will close due to high water:

  • Lock 12 (Bellevue, Iowa)
  • Lock 13 (Fulton, Ill.)
  • Lock 16 (Illinois City, Ill.)

Rising Mississippi River levels may result in the closure of additional locks over the next several weeks.  Since the Mississippi River levels will fluctuate due to spring rains, it is too soon to forecast remaining lock closings or the duration of closures for this flood event.   All Illinois River locks are expected to remain open during this year's spring flooding.

The Mississippi River is moving swiftly and all recreational boaters are advised to use extreme caution.  Swimming, wading or entering the Mississippi River during these high river stages is not recommended.  There are no short cuts to safety.  The Corps also urges people who live or travel near rivers to continue to monitor water levels and in particular, not to drive into water-covered roads.  Alternate routes should be used.

Updated information about the Mississippi River is available on the web by visiting the Corps' website at www.rivergages.com.  This web site includes links to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Weather Service websites that track Mississippi River flow and projected rainfall amounts.

Web Links:

Lock Conditions: http://www2.mvr.usace.army.mil/omni/webrpts/omni_lc/ice_reportm.cfm?seq1=-12
Lock Locations: www.mvr.usace.army.mil/PublicAffairsOffice/LockLocationMap.pdf
Mississippi River 9-foot Staircase: www.mvr.usace.army.mil/PublicAffairsOffice/9FootStaircase.gif
Locks and Dams: http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/brochures/documents/UMRSLocksandDams.pdf

- end -

Amana - Come watch as Charlotte spins her magic web and cast a heartwarming spell over Fern, Wilbur and all the animals in Zuckerman's barn during The Old Creamery Theatre for Young Audiences production of Charlotte's Web.

A true favorite for so many, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White was dramatized for the stage by Joseph Robinette. The show opens Saturday April 23 at 1 p.m. on the Main Stage at 39 38th Ave., Amana and runs through May 7.

Charlotte's Web is directed by Sean McCall of Marengo. The cast consists of Laura Ambrose of Coon Rapids, Minn.; T.J. Besler of Manchester; Nicholas Hodge of South Amana; Jackie McCall of Marengo; Amber Snyder of Memphis, Tenn.; Ian Zahren of South Amana; and Kamille Zbanek of Ely, IA.

McCall said bringing a favorite story to life on stage is always a thrill. "The popularity of Charlotte's Web plus the professional experience of the cast makes for a show not to be missed," he said. "Plus, we're teaching the next generation that the theatre is a wonderful place."

Tickets are $8 per person for reserved seating. Reservations for this show are highly recommended as tickets are going fast.

Call the box office at 800-35-AMANA or visit the website at www.oldcreamery.com for information or to purchase your tickets.

The Old Creamery Theatre Company is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1971 in Garrison, Iowa. The company is celebrating 40 years of bringing live, professional theatre to the people of Iowa and the Midwest. We thank KGAN and Fox 28, our 2011 season media sponsor.

Starting on Wednesday April 13, 3011, work will begin on the Duck Creek stream bank located near the Kimberly Road Bridge. This stream-bank restoration project will temporarily affect Duck Creek Golf Course on hole #8, and the Duck Creek Trail between Quad City Radio Group and the Kimberly Road Bridge. Work should only take a few days to complete.

The City of Davenport is committed to keeping the Duck Creek stream and trail system in top condition. This project is needed to restore parts of the stream bed bank, and should only result in a minor inconvenience for a few days. Duck Creek Trail will remain open throughout the project. The project will not effect bikers, walkers or runners using Duck Creek Trail.

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2011 - FRIDAY, April 15, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Shenandoah, Iowa, to give remarks at the grand opening of the BioProcess Algae Phase II Grower Harvester TM Bioreactor Project. BioProcess Algae was created to commercialize advanced photo-bioreactor technologies for the growing and harvesting of algal biomass. Later in the day on FRIDAY, the Secretary will also speak to the Shenandoah Chamber and Industry Association Annual Meeting about how USDA is focused on stimulating growth, creating jobs, and setting in place a framework for a robust future for the rural economy, which includes support of next-generation renewable energy.

The Obama administration is focused on building a cleaner, safer, and more secure energy future - one that ultimately breaks our dependence on foreign oil and moves our nation toward a clean energy economy that creates jobs and keeps America competitive. USDA is helping our nation develop the next generation of biofuels to grow jobs and generate energy from new, homegrown sources. Secretary Vilsack believes that rural America can and must lead America's transition to a clean energy economy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

4:30 p.m. EDT

WHAT: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will give remarks at the grand opening of the BioProcess Algae Phase II Grower Harvester TM Bioreactor Project

WHERE: BioProcess Algae Phase II (Green Plains Renewable Energy)

4124 Airport Road

Shenandoah, IA 51601

*Note: Parking for media will be available at marked locations at Green Plains Renewable Energy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

6:00 p.m. EDT

 

WHAT: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will give remarks at the Shenandoah Chamber and Industry Association Annual Meeting

WHERE: 1800 South Elm Street

Shenandoah, IA 51601

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