Bill Will Cut Taxes for Businesses that Hire Unemployed Workers

Washington, DC - January 26, 2011 - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) introduced a bill to cut payroll taxes for businesses that hire unemployed workers. The Back to Work Extension Act extends a provision of the HIRE Act that provides employers a payroll tax break if they hire workers who were previously unemployed.

"Creating jobs is my top priority and this program is already proven to put Iowans back to work," said Braley. "Between February and December of 2010, Iowa businesses hired more than 104,000 workers who are eligible for this tax cut. This tax credit works - and we must extend it now to give employers incentives to create jobs and hire unemployed workers."

The Back to Work Extension Act will exempt small businesses from paying the employer's share of the Social Security tax for up to one year through December 31, 2011 - if they hire workers who have been unemployed for more than 60 days prior to employment. Employers who keep eligible employees on the payroll for 52 consecutive weeks will receive an additional $1,000 tax credit. The previous exemption expired on December 31, 2010.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. ? January 26, 2011 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today reintroduced major legislation to create a healthier future for America by giving our citizens access to better preventive care and consumer information to encourage healthier lifestyles.  The Healthier Lifestyles and Prevention America Act, also known as the HeLP America Act, provides all sectors of our society - child care centers, schools, workplaces, health care providers and communities - with the incentives and tools they need to reach the goal of making America a healthier place.

"Promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing chronic disease will not happen overnight.  While the prevention and wellness measures included in the new health reform law were an important step forward, much more needs to be done," said Harkin.

"We need to integrate health and wellness into all elements of American communities - from our schools and workplaces to our grocery store aisles and restaurants.  By providing people the information and resources they need to live longer, healthier lives, the HeLP America Act will empower people to take care of their health, boosting overall quality of life and lowering our spiraling health care costs."

Among other benefits, the HeLP America Act will:

·    Provide fresh fruits and vegetables to all low income elementary schools by expanding the Harkin Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
·    Create a healthier workforce by providing tax credits to businesses that offer comprehensive workplace wellness programs to their employees and allowing employers to deduct the cost of employees' athletic facility memberships
·    Reduce Americans' sodium consumption by developing two-year targets for sodium reduction in packaged and restaurant foods
·    Help Americans make informed choices about their food by establishing uniform FDA guidelines for the use of "healthy" symbols on the front of food packages
·   Ensure Individuals with Disabilities have access to community sports by creating competitive grants for the implementation of community-based sports and athletic programs for people with disabilities, including youth with disabilities.  

Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are among the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, and the economic impact is staggering. More than seventy-five percent of the $2.5 trillion the United States spends on health care annually is due to chronic disease. Yet less than five percent of annual health care spending in the United States goes toward chronic disease prevention.

Harkin has promoted preventive healthcare initiatives throughout his career, including increased access to breast cancer screenings, the school fruit and vegetable pilot program, the Menu Education and Labeling Act (MEAL), and tobacco control.  Most recently, as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Harkin championed the prevention and wellness measures that are included in the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law last March.  The Prevention and Public Health title of health reform law creates incentives to prevent chronic disease and rein in costs across the full health care spectrum.  A full summary of the provisions is available here:  http://harkin.senate.gov/documents/pdf/4c2b8b9dc4e74.pdf

A full summary of the HeLP America Act is below:

Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention (HeLP) America Act of 2011

Healthier Kids & Schools
·    Nutrition and physical activity in child care quality improvement: Supports State efforts to provide resources to child care providers to help them meet high-quality physical activity and healthy eating standards.
·    Access to local foods and school gardens at preschools and child care centers: Enables child care providers to participate in the USDA's farm-to-school initiatives.
·   Fruit and vegetable program:  Expands the Harkin Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to all low income elementary schools nationwide.
·    Equal physical activity opportunities for students with disabilities: Directs the Department of Education to provide oversight, guidance, and technical assistance to ensure that schools provide equal opportunities for students with disabilities for PE and extracurricular athletics.

Healthier Communities
·   Joint use agreements: Directs the HHS, in coordination with Department of Education, to develop and disseminate guidelines and model joint use agreements to facilitate community access to spaces for physical activity.
·    Community Sports for Individuals with Disabilities: Competitive grants to public entities and nonprofit private entities to implement community-based sports and athletic programs for people with disabilities, including youth with disabilities.  
·    Community gardens: Grants from the USDA to establish, expand, or maintain community gardens.
·    Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Requires HHS to issue physical activity guidelines for preschool children and to update the guidelines for all ages every 5 years.
·    Tobacco Taxes Parity: Increases the excise tax on small cigarettes; equalizes excise taxes for pipe tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco; and clarifies the definition of small cigars.
·   Health in all policies: Requires HHS to conduct a health impact assessment of major non-health legislative proposals and to detail staff to other departments to assist them with consideration of health impacts of their activities.

A Healthier Workforce
·    Healthy Workforce:  Provides tax credits to businesses that offer comprehensive workplace wellness programs to their employees to improve health and wellbeing.
·    Workforce Health Improvement:  Allows employers to deduct the cost of athletic facility memberships for their employees and exempts this benefit as taxable income for employees.
·    Workplace Breastfeeding Taskforce: Establishes a federal taskforce for the promotion of breastfeeding among working mothers.
·    Healthy Federal Workplaces: Requires menu labeling in federal food facilities, the development of nutritional guidelines for food procurement and vending machines on federal property, the development of guidelines for stair placement and signage, and bicycle parking in federal properties.

Responsible Marketing and Consumer Awareness
·    Reducing Sodium Consumption: Directs the FDA to develop two year targets for sodium reduction in packaged and restaurant foods.
·   Improved food labeling: Removes nutrition labeling exemption for foods sold exclusively to restaurants.
·    Healthy Symbols: Instructs the FDA to develop uniform guidelines for the use of nutrient labeling symbols or systems on the front of food packages.
·    Protect Kids from Unfair Junk Food Advertising: Restores the rulemaking authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue restrictions on unfair advertising with respect to children, and gives the FTC Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking authority.
·    Health Literacy:  Strengthens federal initiatives to improve the health literacy of consumers by making health information more understandable and health care systems easier to navigate through continued research and dissemination of effective interventions.
·    Tobacco Marketing:  Eliminates tax deductibility of tobacco advertising, and funds counter-advertising.
·    Incentives to reduce youth tobacco use: Requires HHS to carry out an annual youth tobacco use survey and creates a penalty for tobacco manufacturers if youth use of their tobacco products does not decrease.

Expanded Coverage of Preventive Services
·    Preventive Services in Medicaid:  Requires coverage of preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the CDC without cost-sharing for Medicaid beneficiaries.
·    Preventive Services for Federal Employees:  Requires coverage of preventive services recommended by the USPSTF, CDC, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for children, and workplace wellness program in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.
·   Health Professional Education on Health Eating:  Establishes a program administered by CDC and HRSA to train health professionals to better identify patients at-risk of and treat patients who are overweight, obese, or have an eating disorder.

Research and Surveillance
·    Grants for body mass index analysis: Provides grants to States to include BMI data in existing state-wide immunization databases.
·    National Assessment of Mental Health:  Requires the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to build on existing or create new monitoring systems that assess mental and behavioral health status and risks.

On Sunday January 30th, the Figge Art Museum and the University of Iowa will be hosting a public reception celebrating three new exhibitions at the museum - "Tracks: The Railroad in Photographs from the George Eastman House Collection"; "Crossing the Mississippi: The Quad Cities, the Railroad and Art "; and "Those Who Can: The University of Iowa School of Art & Art History Studio Faculty Exhibition." The event begins at 2:00 P.M. with a lecture by University of Iowa professor of Art History Joni Kinsey, PhD. Dr. Kinsey's lecture will survey an array of images relating to American artists' involvement with railroads and the impact of their art on tourism and travel. From the earliest "Artists Excursions" sponsored by railroads for the creation of corporate railroad art collections, artists have been an integral part of our relationship with trains, travel and tourism.  Following the lecture, at 3:00 P.M., the Figge and the University of Iowa will celebrate its continued partnership with light hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar in the lobby and café.  Representatives from the University of Iowa will offer remarks on the "Those Who Can" exhibition at 3:30 P.M. in the lobby.

The lecture and reception are free to members, University of Iowa faculty, staff and students, or with general museum admission.  For more information and museum hours, contact the Figge at 563.326.7804 or visit figgeart.org.

"Tracks" and its educational programming are funded in part by the Riverboat Development Authority, Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Statement by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley regarding the State of the Union Address by the President, Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The top priorities have to be job creation and fiscal discipline, and there ought to be broad-based political support for those goals.  It seems like the President has come to this realization after last November's election.  The new seating arrangement for tonight's State of the Union address is symbolic, but it can't do as much as the tone set by the President in his remarks and, even more so, the follow through after the speech.

I had constituent meetings in 24 Iowa counties last week and heard employers say they need long-term tax certainty and tax reforms to enhance competitiveness and enable job creation.  They need relief from costly mandates and regulations that undo any benefit they're supposed to get from the federal government, especially in rural America.  The President's goal to look at contradictory or unneeded regulations is welcome, and I intend to give him some common sense ideas from Iowa to get started.  Washington also should foster innovation and the resulting economic opportunities with initiatives such as patent reform.

American manufacturers, farmers and service industries need new markets for exports.  International trade leads to higher paying jobs and new opportunities for workers.  It's time for the administration to match its rhetoric with reality by getting the United States off the sidelines and finalizing valuable trade agreements that have been pending for years.  The rest of the world is moving forward without us, at the expense of America's workforce.  For example, Caterpillar is waiting to export more bulldozers made in Illinois to Colombia under a free-trade agreement signed in 2006 but never implemented.  If U.S. companies can't get access to foreign markets, companies in other countries will.  The President's stated goal of doubling exports will be hard to achieve on the margins, without trade agreements.  I want to work with him to achieve those agreements, if he's willing to back his words with action.

A positive outcome of the 2010 election must be fiscal restraint.  That needs to include spending freezes, spending reductions, and beefed up efforts to stop fraud, waste and abuse of tax dollars.  The renewed effort to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution is very good news for taxpayers and good government.  It should be accompanied by line-item veto authority for the President.  Both measures would result in greater accountability in Washington.

Senator Grassley will serve as Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee in the new Congress.  He has been either Ranking Member or Chairman of the Finance Committee for the last ten years and will continue to serve as a senior member of the Finance Committee.  Grassley also is a senior member of the Senate Budget and Agriculture committees.

Harkin Statement on President Obama's Second State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. - January 25, 2011 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement in response to President Obama's second State of the Union address.  Harkin chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, as well as the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

"Last year, I listened as the President laid out in real terms the state of our economy and the tough road ahead.  He spoke of the need for job creation to restore our economy.  In the past year, Congress and the White House worked together to make our economy work again for hardworking Americans.

"We brought health care costs under control with the new health reform law, which I was proud to help craft.  We also took action on a long-overdue effort to make college more affordable.  And Congress passed and the President signed into law a new financial reform effort to help stabilize our economy, make future bailouts less likely and protect families on Main Street from abusive financial practices.   

"In the upcoming year, Congress will continue the effort to create jobs, restore the economy and reduce our deficit.  Tonight, President Obama laid out a number of steps on which Congress and the President can work together to achieve that goal.

"As Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, I was encouraged by the President's strong focus on education reform as an engine for economic growth.  Teachers across the country work hard every day to educate our children. It's past time for Congress to do its job and fix the No Child Left Behind Act and I look forward to leading this bipartisan effort.  Advancing education reform through a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) will help ensure that all students can attend high-quality schools that equip them with the skills and knowledge to succeed in college, careers and the global economy.

"The recently passed health reform law, something I have long believed was a starter home from which to continue to build, put health decisions back in patient's hands - not the insurance companies.  That important bill provided new protections to consumers by ending discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, allowing parents to keep their kids on their insurance until age 26 and investing in prevention efforts to keep Americans healthy.  I was pleased to hear the President defend these important protections and suggest we build on them as we move forward.  

"The health reform bill was also a deficit reduction bill, saving the federal government over $1 trillion over the next 20 years.  Just two weeks ago, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the House Republicans' repeal effort will drive up the deficit by nearly a quarter trillion dollars over ten years.  Health reform was the first of many efforts Democrats will take to reduce our deficit and rein in spending.   We will continue these efforts in this Congress.  There is room for significant but smart cuts in both domestic spending and defense programs.   And we also have to have a real conversation on fair taxation, which includes making sure higher income Americans and corporations pay their fair share.

"Budget cutting rhetoric is one thing, but reality is much more difficult.  That is why it is so important that our deficit reduction efforts be done in a smart way.  These cuts should not impede our recovery or be borne disproportionately by working Americans.  And they should still allow us to invest in our future.

"The economy is slowly getting back on track.  With bipartisan cooperation, Congress and the Obama Administration can accelerate that recovery."

Braley Reaction to State of the Union

Washington, D.C. - January 25, 2011 - Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement tonight on President Obama's State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress:

"In tonight's speech, President Obama presented an ambitious vision for our country's future - it's a vision that I've been fighting for since I came to Congress.

"I fully support an innovation agenda for America. In Iowa, we are already leading the way in new energies like biofuels - with help from legislation like the New Era Act, which I introduced and passed into law, Eastern Iowa Community College and Hawkeye Community College are training the next generation of biofuels technicians right now.

"And I commend the President for recognizing the state of Iowa when he talked about expanding high-speed Internet to rural communities. It's great to hear that this is high on his priority list, because it certainly is on mine.

"But even as we work to create the jobs of tomorrow, we cannot forget about jobs today - and the people who depend on having jobs today. American manufacturing is hurting - I've seen it in companies like Wilbert Plastic Service in Winthrop which has been open since the 1960's. They employed over a hundred people. And they had to close down last year. This is unacceptable to me - and I won't stop working until we can bring about a resurgence of American manufacturing. Because if we want families to make it in Iowa - or anywhere in America - we need to make things in America once again.

"I look forward to working with the President, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create jobs, to cut the deficit in a responsible way, to simplify government, to take care of our veterans and military families - and to give hard-working Americans in all of our districts a chance to succeed."

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Statement from Governor Pat Quinn on President Obama's State of the Union Address

CHICAGO - January 25, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today released the following statement in response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech:

"We in Illinois applaud President Obama's vision for American innovation, education, fiscal responsibility and bipartisanship. As our country recovers from the worst recession in decades, we must be visionaries, with our sights set on the global economy.

"In Illinois, we are investing in the infrastructure, new industries, and education that will continue to make our state competitive - for the jobs of today and tomorrow. From building high-speed rail to attracting foreign investment from China, from helping online-innovator Groupon grow to working with Ford to build the new fuel-efficient Explorer, Illinois stands poised to take advantage of the jobs of tomorrow and the next technological revolutions.

"We commend the President on his vision, and look forward to working together as a nation to keep American innovation at the forefront of the global economy."

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - January 25, 2011 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today led a group of senators in introducing legislation aimed at expanding markets for biofuels.  The bill will increase the number of flex-fuel vehicles on the road, increase the number of blender pumps dispensing biofuels and authorize loan guarantees for the construction of renewable fuel pipelines.  As the former Chairman and now senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Harkin has been a long-time leader in promoting the production and use of biofuels as an important part of the nation's energy strategy.  

"Because we import 60 percent of the petroleum we consume, our country is vulnerable to disruptions in the supply of petroleum and our economy faces a constant threat from volatile oil prices. With more than two-thirds of our petroleum supply consumed by our transportation sector, there is a tremendous opportunity to expand the production and use of biofuels, which is good for our American security and for our economy," said Harkin. "Biofuels displace close to 10 percent of our gasoline supplies, and they have the potential to make significantly larger contributions.  The bill I am introducing today is an important step in our overall energy policy and a job generator for Iowa and our nation as a whole."

Co-sponsors of the bill are: Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Al Franken (D-MN).

A copy of the bill can be found here. A summary of the bill follows:

Flex-fuel Vehicles

Mandates that increasing fractions of vehicles manufactured for sale in the U.S. be flex-fuel capable.  Those fractions are
50% in 2014 and 2015
90% in 2016 and beyond
The mandate doesn't include vehicles that operate only on electricity

Blender Pumps

Defines "major fuel distributor" as a person that owns or directly markets the output of a refinery, but not including any person that directly markets through less than 50 retail fueling stations.

Requires major fuel distributors to install at least one blender pump at an increasing number of the refueling stations which they own or through which they market, according to the following schedule:
10% by 2014
20% by 2016
35% by 2018
50% by 2020 and thereafter
Allows trading of credits for excess blender pump installations to major fuel distributors with less than the required number.

Authorizes grants for installation of retail ethanol blend fueling infrastructure including blender pumps, tanks, and associated equipment.  Grants may be up to 50% of project costs.  These are not available to major fuel distributors.  Authorizes these amounts for appropriations:
$50,000,000 in 2012
$100,000,000 in 2013
$200,000,000 in 2014
$300,000,000 in 2015
$350,000,000 in 2016

Renewable Fuel Pipelines

Authorizes loan guarantees under the DOE Loan Guarantee Program for guarantees for loans covering 80% of project costs for renewable fuel pipelines.

WASHINGTON - January 25, 2011 - Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa with colleagues today introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent any individual or firm from being able to receive patents on tax strategies.  The tax patent legislation also is included in the broad patent reform bill under review in the Judiciary Committee.

"Tax patents prevent taxpayers from being able to use certain tax strategies unless they're willing to pay for them," Grassley said.  "It's unfair for taxpayers to have to pay for these methods.   Also, tax patents undermine a tax system based on voluntary compliance.  Our legislation reins in the cottage industry of those trying to own tax planning strategies that should be available to everyone or that would encourage inappropriate tax avoidance."

Grassley co-authored the Equal Access to Tax Planning Act, which was introduced today with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and other senators.   The bill also is included in the Patent Reform Act of 2011, which the Judiciary Committee will begin considering on Thursday.  The patent legislation is described as offering a long-needed update of patent laws to preserve American invention and innovation, the cornerstones of the economy and job creation.

Grassley is outgoing ranking member of the Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over tax policy, and incoming ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.  He remains a senior member of the Finance Committee.

The text of the tax patent legislation is available at http://finance.senate.gov/legislation/.  Following is Grassley's statement of introduction on the legislation submitted to the Senate record.

Senator Grassley Statement Regarding the Equal Access to Tax Planning Act

Mr. President, Senator Baucus and I first introduced a bill to ban patents for tax inventions in the 110th Congress. Since then we have worked with the leaders of the Judiciary Committee, the Patent and Trademark Office, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, industry, and members of the patent bar to perfect the language.  I am pleased to introduce this new and improved bill today with Senators Baucus, Levin, Wyden, Bingaman, Conrad, Enzi and Kerry.

There are strong policy reasons to ban tax strategy patents.  Tax strategy patents may lead to the marketing of aggressive tax shelters or otherwise mislead taxpayers about expected results.  Tax strategy patents encumber the ability of taxpayers and their advisors to use the tax law freely, interfering with the voluntary tax compliance system.  If firms or individuals were able to hold patents for these strategies, some taxpayers could face fees simply for complying with the tax code.  And, tax patents provide windfalls to lawyers and patent holders by granting them exclusive rights to use tax loopholes, which could provide some businesses with an unfair advantage

Tax strategy patents are unlikely to be novel given the public nature of the tax code.  Moreover, tax strategy patents may undermine the fairness of the federal tax system by removing from the public domain particular ways of satisfying a taxpayer's legal obligations.  The Equal Access to Tax Planning Act expressly provides that a strategy for reducing, avoiding or deferring tax liability cannot be considered a new or non-obvious idea, and therefore, a patent on a tax strategy cannot be obtained.  This ensures that all taxpayers will have equal access to strategies to comply with the tax code.  I encourage support for this bill.

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Davenport, IA - If "Going Green" is the wave of the future, consider Russell Construction ahead of the curve.  Russell Construction is proud to announce the accreditation of 20 LEED Professionals in the area of Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD+C) by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Currently, 90% of Russell's project management staff is LEED AP BD+C accredited. Russell Construction currently has the most LEED AP BD+C Accredited Professionals in the entire state of Iowa.

Developed by the USGBC, the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program provides building owners/operators a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions into every project. LEED Accreditation serves to help companies and professionals improve the quality of construction and its impact on the environment. By passing an extensive LEED exam, individuals and their affiliated companies are able to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities in constructing an environmentally conscious project.

As an advocate of "Going Green", Russell Construction and our LEED AP BD+C professionals are dedicated to protecting construction project resources and locations. Currently, Russell is finishing up the new $13M First Army Headquarters, located on the Rock Island Arsenal (front lobby pictured left). In order to "Go Green" and have a minimal impact on the environment, an extensive waste management plan was implemented to reduce the amount of job-site waste generated.

This plan entailed the Russell project team to recycle an assortment of jobsite materials such as: carpet, metal, wood, glass, drywall, ceiling tile, paper, cardboard, concrete and other general waste materials. In total this project generated 1,123.237 tons of waste materials. However, 916.942 tons, or 81.63%, of construction waste was diverted from landfills for this project alone. First Army is scheduled to take possession of their new environmentally friendly facility in February 2011.

Russell's corporate office has also taken steps to "go green." All offices are equipped with occupancy sensors on all overhead lights and switches and an energy efficient HVAC unit. Internal recycling programs for office paper, bottles, pop cans, newspapers, computers, and unused job site materials, such as scrap wood or metal, are in place and enforced. In addition, digital imaging of project information into a main secure database has saved and estimated 15 cases per month of paper, which allows for additional storage space
and lower office supply costs.

At Russell, we are dedicated to LEED-ing the "Going Green" movement. For more information on Russell Construction, visit their corporate website at www.russellco.com.

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LIHEAP funding critical for low-income families, the disabled, and senior citizens living on fixed incomes

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that Iowa has been awarded $3,451,729 through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) emergency contingency fund.  The funding will help eligible Iowans meet home energy costs and stay warm during the long winter months. Today's funding is in addition to the $67 million Senator Harkin previously secured for the state in Fiscal Year 2011, bringing Iowa's total LIHEAP funding to $70.5 million this year.

"During the harsh winter months, too many Iowans are forced to choose between paying heating bills and other necessities," Senator Harkin said. "This funding will help give thousands of low-income households, especially those with young children and elderly, a little breathing room so they can make it through the season."

A nationwide survey of households receiving LIHEAP aid found that 42 percent of recipients went without medical or dental insurance and 32 percent went without food for at least one day.  In 2009, the latest year for which data is available, 95,234 Iowan households received LIHEAP assistance - one of the highest numbers on record for the state.

For more information on Senator Harkin's work on LIHEAP, please click here.

Hails Bi-Partisan Effort To Preserve Health Care For Vulnerable Illinoisans And Will Save More Than $624 Million Over Five Years

CHICAGO - January 25, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation establishing comprehensive Medicaid reform in Illinois. House Bill 5420 was crafted by bi-partisan legislative committees and passed both houses of the General Assembly with bi-partisan support.

The law will enable the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to improve efficiency and streamline services by: expanding coordinated care in Illinois, improving the efficiency of the prescription drug program, tightening the integrity of the eligibility process and increasing civil penalties for recipients who abuse the system. The reforms are expected to achieve savings of $624 million to $774 million over five years.

"Medicaid reform is one part of my plan to stabilize our budget. A priority of my administration is eliminating inefficiencies, so that we are saving money while delivering better services to those that most need them," said Governor Quinn. "I would like to thank HFS and the members of the Senate and House Special Committees on Medicaid Reform who worked closely in a bi-partisan spirit with my office to make this legislation possible."

The groundbreaking, bi-partisan reform legislation was crafted under the direction of Governor Quinn and administration officials, working in concert with the Senate and House Special Medicaid Reform Committees. HB 5420 was sponsored by the co-chairs of the two committees: Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) and Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale).

"This legislation is a result of bi-partisan commitment to protect patient health, while implementing much-needed reforms and saving taxpayers money," said HFS Director Julie Hamos. "Governor Quinn has directed this department to transform Medicaid in Illinois into a program that works to keep people healthy, rather than one that simply pays bill after they become sick. This measure grants us the authority to move forward with the Governor's directive."

Under the new law, HFS will improve the efficiency of the program by expanding coordinated care to cover at least 50 percent of recipients by 2015. It also authorizes the department to enhance the integrity of the eligibility process, subject to federal approval, by requiring proof of Illinois residency; tightening income verification by requiring a month's worth of income information, instead of a single paystub; and requiring annual redetermination of eligibility.

The law also will allow the department to save on prescription drug costs by maximizing co-payments, promoting 90-day maintenance prescriptions and controlling utilization, and reducing prompt payment interest rates for pharmacy bills from 2 percent to 1 percent.

Other major reforms include :

  • Enhancing restrictions and civil penalties for recipients who abuse the system.
  • Establishing a moratorium on eligibility expansions.
  • Limiting income of future All Kids enrollees to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • Extending the sunset of All Kids from 2011 to 2016.
  • Phasing out the practice of allowing unpaid bills from one year to be paid in the next fiscal year.
  • Requiring HFS to study the impact of income limits and cost-sharing opportunities for medical programs available to children under the Public Aid Code where there is no parental-income threshold.

Illinois' Medicaid program, which is administered by HFS, provides health coverage to 2.8 million low-income individuals and families, people with disabilities and older adults.

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AMES, Iowa (January 24, 2011) - More than 5,530 Iowa State University undergraduates have been recognized for outstanding academic achievement by being named to the 2010 fall semester Dean's List. Students named to the Dean's List must have earned a grade point average of at least 3.50 on a 4.00 scale while carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours of graded course work.  Students from your area who qualified for the Dean's List are listed below.

Bettendorf, IA
Lauren Paige Anderson; Kelli Nicole Baker; Maggie Elizabeth Beckman; Carolyn Elizabeth Bennie; Emily Kristine Bisbee; Jennifer Marie Blaser; Stephanie Ann Blaser; Jessica Marie Blaum; Kaitlin Janaye Bohn; Brittney Corrine Carpio; Kevin Anthony Emard; Christopher Joseph Foss; Jennifer Ann Garter; Natalie S. Heiderscheit; Aaron Michael Hewitt; Leah Elizabeth Hodgin; Bryce Phillip Johnson; Megan Michelle Johnson; Emily Elizabeth Johnston; Alexander Ernest Krist; Michael Drew Kurtz; Elizabeth, ILene Larsen; Brock Robert Mills; Gordon Theodore Mueller; Mindy Jolene Schlueter; Meredith Kim Sherrill; Heather M. Vandewostine; Elizabeth Anne Volden; Kelly Ann Wagner; Paige Nicole Wear; Andrea Lynne Baker; Ashley Marie Beck; Kimberly Ann Booe; Elizabeth C. Brebner; Benjamin Alexander Britz; Katharine Rosemarie Brown; Matthew Roger Brown; Molly Rebecca Bryant; Sarah Anne Buck; Emily Marcene Doerder; Gabriel S. Domingues; Jared Andrew Evans; Elizabeth Anne Fry; Jenna Corinne Fussell; Matthew Nicholas Gaul; Valerie Sylvie Gilles; Amanda Michelle Haffarnan; Jacob T. Hemberger; Lindsay Jo Hoffman; Morgan Dale Hoke; Carolyn Anne Johnson; Abigail Marie Kline; Deborah Nicole Kraft; Kelsey Lynn Kraft; Jason Carl Kruse; Jesse William Leonard; Julie Christine Leonard; Jessica Marlo Madsen; Elizabeth J. Martin; Clare Kathleen McAndrews; Thomas Ray McGee; Emily Jeanne Misak; Nicole Renee Oldfather; Amanda Lee Oswald; Abigail S. Pritz; Emily Paige Rheinhart; Carter L. Roberts; Carleigh A. Rose; Stefani Nicole Williams; Chad Edward Wisham.

Davenport, IA
Hannah Marie Adams; Derek Reid Attwood; Nicholas C. Borcherding; Fabian Andres Briesmoore; Matthew Allen Burmeister; Margaret Marie Carlin; John Michael Crispin; Jacob Timothy Fetterer; Ashley Marie Fishburn; Marinda R. Gacke; Kelly Jean Goossen; Tony Hoang; Kelsey Jane Hoeksema; Kathleen Marie Hoil; Malcolm Andrew Kelly; Danielle Marie Kimler; Nicholas Aaron King; Laura Beth Klavitter; Luke William Klenske; Aubrey Erin Krug; Austin Miles Laugen; Sarah Elizabeth Miller; Jeffrey Michael Moritz; Lindsay Diane Moss-Taylor; Anna Elizabeth Mullen; Adam Nguyen; Kara, NHu Nguyen; Thanh Kim Nguyen; Andrea Marie Oake; Alison Margaret Perkins; Nathan S. Premo; Mohammed Ashiqur Rahim; Brittany Michelle Redmond; Kelsey B. Regan; Aleah Nicole Salisbury; Daniel Lee Sedam; Brian Michael Smith; Matthew James Stegemann; Caitlin Erin M. Toppler; Jeramie Lee Vens; Caitlyn Marie Warner; Ashley Nicole Blackwell; Cara Jo Blake; Rebecca Joy Briesmoore; Matthew T. Darmour-Paul; Darryl Deleon; Brett Christopher Ebert; Anne Marie Harre; Emily Marie Kenneke; Pantelis Korovilas; Kristin Suzanne Magnus; Megan Grace McDonagh; Britney Jean Meier; Bryce Taylor Sandry; Brian Vincent Skalak; Brittany L. Springmeier; Lauren N. Westerdale.

Moline, IL
Courtney Elizabeth Carson; Jordan Catherine Dean; Mark Andrew Krismanits; Alex James Michl; Christina Elizabeth Mital; Daniel Joseph Siroky; Caleb Jack Spiegel.

Riverdale, IA
Amy K. DCamp.

Riverdale, Ia
Peter F. Joers.

Rock Island, IL
Danielle J. Cram; Laura Elizabeth Debarr; Taylor Marie Downing.

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