Finance Senators' Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act Would Permanently Extend Tax Breaks for Donating Land for Protection

Washington, DC - February 16, 2011 - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have introduced legislation to permanently extend income tax relief for ranchers, farmers and other landowners who donate agricultural land for conservation.

"This bill rewards ranchers and farmers in Montana and across the country who want to conserve our land and preserve open space for their kids and grandkids," said Baucus. "Our nation is losing precious agricultural and ranch lands at a record pace, resulting in a loss of natural habitats for wildlife and open spaces for our communities.  We need to protect our land for future generations and to support the ranchers, farmers and other landowners who rely on it to make a living.  These tax incentives provide the right tools to help landowners move toward conservation."


"Economists say if you want more of a certain behavior, give incentives to encourage the behavior," Grassley said.  "Land conservation is something people want.  Farmers already practice good stewardship of the land used for production agriculture.  Conserving land is another example of good stewardship."

The Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2011 would permanently extend an increase in the maximum tax deduction for charitable contributions of conservation easements from 30 percent to 50 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  The bill further benefits farmers and ranchers by permanently extending the current law allowing a charitable deduction for up to 100 percent of AGI for their donations of conservation easements.  Any unused deduction can be carried forward for up to 15 years.

Baucus and Grassley first introduced legislation to create an enhanced conservation easement tax deduction in 2006 as part of the Pension Protection Act.  The provision was subsequently extended in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 and the Taxpayer Relief, Unemployment Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.  The tax deduction currently expires at the end of 2011.  In 2009, the Senators introduced legislation to make the enhanced deduction permanent.

The text of the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2011 can be found on the Finance Committee website here:


Dedicated faculty, actively engaged parents, and a supportive, family-like learning environment.  Individualized attention and a customized education.  Comprehensive college counseling beginning in 9th grade, with 100% of graduates accepted to competitive four-year colleges and universities.  Sound too good to be true?  It's not!  Upper School at Rivermont is an exceptional place!

Join us to explore Upper School (grades 9-12) at Rivermont Collegiate by attending a special open house - Discover the Difference: Upper School at Rivermont, to be held on Tuesday, February 22nd from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Headmaster Rick St. Laurent and Upper School Faculty will discuss academic expectations, curriculum, extra-curricular activities, college counseling, athletics, and more!  Alumni will share their Rivermont Experience.  In addition, families will learn more about the Rewarding U Now Scholarship, a renewable academic merit scholarship for students entering grades 9-12 in the 2011-12 academic year.  All qualifying students will be awarded $2,000 toward Rivermont annual tuition, renewable every year they attend Rivermont in grades 9-12 and meet scholarship criteriaThis is a potential value of $8,000 over 4 years! Eligible students must have earned a current year (2010-11) GPA of 3.85 or higher.  For more information, visit and join us Tuesday evening!

Intimate school environments like Rivermont help close achievement gaps between genders, encourage participation in a variety of extra-curricular activities, and prevent students from taking refuge in anonymity.  At Rivermont, conventional high school activities like athletics (basketball, volleyball, cross country, cheerleading), drama, instrumental and vocal music, and National Honor Society are offered alongside unique Rivermont traditions such as International Week, Pancake Tuesday, and the Rivermont Academic Invitational.  A challenging curriculum provides an in-depth foundation in the arts, humanities, and sciences while offering a broad spectrum of electives that allow students to customize their education and create their Rivermont Experience.

This event is open to the public and will be held in the Historic Bettendorf Mansion on the Rivermont campus.  A light supper will be served.  Rivermont Collegiate is located at 1821 Sunset Drive, directly off 18th Street behind K&K Hardware in Bettendorf.

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate or Tuesday's Upper School Open House, contact Cindy Murray at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or


Reforms Will Save Millions; Still Ensure Quality, Accessibility

CHICAGO - February 14, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today kicked off the week of the fiscal year 2012 budget address by signing Senate Bill 3778, which will save taxpayers millions annually by retooling the Seniors Ride Free program.

"This reform sets the standard we must meet for state programs by reducing costs while also ensuring transportation services for our most dependent seniors," Governor Quinn said. "To start off a week that will highlight important budget reforms, we're taking important steps to ensure our state transit programs are fiscally responsible but also accessible to the riders who depend on them."

Senate Bill 3778, sponsored by Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), scales back the Seniors Ride Free program by providing a 50 percent discount on state transit to all senior citizens. Previously, all seniors received a free fare. The new law is estimated to save more than $30 million, and almost 60 percent of the seniors currently riding for free will still be eligible to ride without charge.

Free rides will be available to seniors who meet specific financial requirements. A one-person household with an annual income of $27,610 or less will still be eligible for the free fare, as will a two-person household earning less than $36,635 and households of three or more earning $45,657 or less.

Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 3965 today, which brings oversight of the regional transit boards under the jurisdiction of the Executive Inspector General and Executive Ethics Commission. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) and Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo), requires each regional inspector general to submit a monthly report to the Executive Inspector General which will outline, among other things, the agency's reported complaints, as well as investigation status and outcomes. The Executive Inspector General will work to detect and prevent fraud and mismanagement at all levels of the transit agencies.

Senate Bill 3778 goes into effect immediately. Senate Bill 3965 has an effective date of July 1.


WASHINGTON, D.C. - February 14, 2011 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that Iowa college students can now apply for summer 2011 internships in his Washington, D.C. and Iowa offices.  An internship in Harkin's personal office, or with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, is designed for college undergraduates, graduates, and law students.  Interns gain a valuable and unique education about the federal legislative process, while assisting the staff in the areas of legislation, press, casework, and outreach to the state.  Intern responsibilities include performing office duties, writing and researching current legislative issues and acting as general support to the Senator's staff.

"My own political career started with an internship.  Years ago, when I interned for Representative Neal Smith in the House of Representatives I learned firsthand how government operates.  It was an invaluable experience, one that I encourage all young men and women who share this interest in public service to experience," Harkin said.

Part time and full time internships are available in Harkin's Washington, D.C. personal office, on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee that Harkin chairs, and in his five Iowa offices (Des Moines, Davenport, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City).  Interns typically work during one of three sessions: spring, summer and fall.

Students who are interested in becoming an intern can apply via the web at  Questions can be directed to the intern coordinator in Harkin's Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3254.  The deadline to apply for a summer internship with the HELP Committee is March 4, 2011, the deadline for Harkin's D.C. personal office is March 11, 2011 and the deadline for state offices is April 15, 2011.

Washington, DC - February 14, 2011 - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement in response to the President's budget for fiscal year 2012:

"Today, the President released a budget that clearly involved some tough decisions - and I'm glad to see he is making an effort to address the very real problem of our outrageous deficit," said Rep. Braley. "I was pleased to see some of the President's proposed cuts, and while it's a good start, I think we can go even further.

"This budget clearly reflects our new national reality - the era of big borrowing and big spending is over. But we can, and must, go even further to reduce our deficit. As I said to the President and Speaker Boehner in a letter last week, we can't present Americans with false choices over issues as important as our national deficit and debt. We must work together - in the House, with the Senate and with the President - to present a responsible, common-sense budget plan to the American people. Our country's future depends on it."

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Amana- The Old Creamery's Theatre for Young Audiences is bringing a week-long theatre camp to Amana this summer!

Camp Creamery: The Legend of Blackbeard's Gold is a week-long workshop for children interested in exploring the exciting world of theatre! The camp is designed to give children ages 7 and up the unique opportunity to work and perform with three professional actors from The Old Creamery Theatre while they rehearse and present a play. The Legend of Blackbeard's Gold is a brand new musical full of pirates, damsels in distress, and plenty of fun! It's a great way for girls and boys to have a theatrical adventure this summer!

Camp Creamery: The Legend of Blackbeard's Gold will be held at The Old Creamery Theatre in Amana July 18th through 22nd from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Cost is $65 per child and includes the workshop and a T-shirt. No prior experience is needed but the cast is limited to 60 actors and participants must be able to attend rehearsal every day. Registration is first come, first served and everyone that signs up will be cast in the show. Final performance of the show will be on July 22nd at 7:00 p.m on The Old Creamery's Main Stage.

For more information or to register visit or contact Jackie McCall at 319- 622-6034 or Scholarships will be available for those in need thanks to the generosity of this year's camp sponsor, AEGON.

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.

Names Illinois State Police Director Jon Monken to Head State's Disaster Preparedness Agency

CHICAGO - February 14, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today named Jonathon E. Monken as director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). Monken is a decorated military Veteran who since 2009 has been charged with protecting the public's safety as director of the Illinois State Police (ISP).

"I salute and thank Jon Monken for his service to the Illinois State Police, which he has led with honor and distinction - most recently during a major winter storm," said Governor Quinn. "His strong leadership on the battlefield and in keeping Illinoisans safe makes him perfectly suited for preparing our state for disasters, and helping us recover from their aftermath."

A former U.S. Army Captain with the Multi-National Corps-Iraq Civil-Military Relations, Monken served as Executive Officer for the Corps' staff that coordinated all Civil-Military Operations nationwide in Iraq. As a Tank Platoon Leader, Monken led more than 100 combat missions in the "Sunni Triangle" of Iraq without losing any soldiers. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device for valor. Monken graduated in the top 1 percent of his military class at West Point.

Most recently, Monken led the ISP as they worked around the clock during a major winter storm that affected most of the state. The ISP worked alongside the IEMA, the Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Department of Military Affairs to rescue thousands of of motorists stranded on roads and highways throughout Illinois.

Patrick Keen will serve as the interim director of the ISP. Keen is a more than 25-year ISP veteran and currently serves as Deputy Director for the Division of Administration.

Current Interim IEMA Director Joseph Klinger will resume his role as the agency's assistant director. Klinger has served as the agency's interim director since May 2010, when Andrew Velasquez III was appointed by President Barack Obama as regional administrator for FEMA Region V. Klinger has served as the agency's assistant director since 2007 after working for the state's nuclear safety program for more than 20 years.

"I thank Joseph Klinger for his strong commitment to ensuring the safety of the people of Illinois, particularly his work to coordinate the state's response to the recent winter storm," said Governor Quinn. "I look forward to his continued service to the people of Illinois."

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is responsible for preparing the state of Illinois for response and recovery from any natural, manmade or technological disasters or acts of terrorism. During disasters, IEMA coordinates with state and federal agencies on response efforts. IEMA, through the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, develops and implements the state's homeland security strategy and administers federal preparedness funding.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa made the following comment on the President's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012 released today.  Grassley is a senior member of the Budget Committee and the Finance Committee.  He is former chairman and ranking member of the Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over tax policy.

"The President said families have to live within their budgets, but his proposal makes a mockery of that statement.  Over 10 years, the debt balloons from $14 trillion today to more than $26 trillion. On any measure of debt, his budget makes things worse, not better.  Instead of tax reform, there are the same scattershot tax increases used to pay for new spending.  The President isn't using his bully pulpit to develop a national consensus on any issues that require leadership and the use of political capital.  President Bush stuck his neck out on entitlement reform, and it seems to me this President is avoiding a national debate on entitlement spending.  It's hard to reconcile the President's stated goal of getting the economy moving with his preference for tax increases.  Businesses have been crystal clear on tax increases and excessive regulations being the enemies of job creation.  You add all that up, and the President's budget is very disappointing."

CHICAGO - February13, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today received the first set of recommendations from the Illinois P-20 Council. The council's report was released to the Governor and the General Assembly, and it provides a number of suggestions aimed at improving student success in Illinois.

"Ensuring that all of our students receive the highest quality education and are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow is key to Illinois' long-term economic growth," said Governor Quinn. "I would like to thank the council members for their hard work, and I look forward to reviewing their proposal for further improvements to education in Illinois."

The council's report includes recommendations pertaining to all levels of the state education system. Its primary goal is to increase the proportion of Illinoisans with high-quality degrees and credentials from the current level of 41 percent to 60 percent of the working-age population by 2025.

Members of the P-20 Council include business leaders, teachers, parents, civic groups, and officials from universities, community colleges and schools. There are four legislative members on the council and six ex-officio members from state agencies. Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle serves as chair.

To read the council's full report, please visit


February 11, 2011

(MAQUOKETA, IA) Maquoketa Art Experience is hosting a "Create-a-Painting" Workshop led by artist and writer Sandra Principe of Hanover, Illinois on Saturday, March 12 from 12-3 p.m. at the Maquoketa Art Experience studio located at 124 S. Main Street in Maquoketa.

Principe has created a painting event for anyone who is interested in exploring work with acrylic paints. In this class, participants will create a portrait of a cresting wave during a three-hour session led step-by-step by Principe. This class is designed for beginners or for anyone who wants to try something new. The registration fee is $35 for the three hour session. There is an optional materials fee of $15 that covers the cost of supplies if you choose not to bring your own. The registration form and materials list are available at For further information or to request a registration form contact Paula at Maquoketa Art Experience, or call 563.652.9925.

In her work Sandra Principe's oil paintings capture light and are reminiscent of the American painter, Martin Johnson Heade and are included in numerious private and corporate collections.  Her work has been shown in solo shows across the country, from West Palm Beach and Vero Beach, Florida to Laguna Beach, California. She is represented by Meghan Candler Gallery in Vero Beach, Florida; and Brio Gallery in Galena, Illinois. View Sandra's paintings at

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