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.

USTA SERVES AWARDS MORE THAN $1 MILLON IN GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS IN 2010

 Year-End Grants Awarded to 33 Organizations Including United Neighbors in Davenport, Iowa

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., January 25, 2011 - USTA Serves, the National Charitable Foundation of the United States Tennis Association, announced today that it has awarded 33 year-end grants totaling $420,650.  Among the organizations recognized with a grant in the amount of $15,000 was United Neighbors in Davenport, Iowa.  The number of program grants awarded in 2010 was 59, for a total amount of $855,150.  Combined with scholarship awards, USTA Serves distributed more than $1 million in 2010.

The bi-annual grant process, a national initiative of USTA Serves, was developed to provide disadvantaged, at-risk children in underserved communities, as well as people with disabilities, the opportunity to learn to play tennis and improve their academic skills in a structured format, and also to help combat childhood obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles. To date, USTA Serves has disbursed more than $10 million in grants to a variety of programs that share those aims.

At funded program sites, children between the ages of 5-18 learn about healthy nutrition and lifestyles, responsible citizenship, study skills, and computer literacy. The grant recipients are chosen by a Grant Proposal Review Committee comprised of Foundation Board Members and USTA National staff, with important input from USTA Sections. They are awarded to programs that successfully combine tennis and education and help children pursue their goals and highest dreams by leading healthier lives, succeeding in school and becoming healthier citizens. New for 2010, USTA Serves has begun granting money to programs for children of deployed military personnel who are at particular risk for emotional and behavioral difficulties

Born from neighborhood action to revitalize Davenport's older neighborhoods, United Neighbors serves individuals and families in need through social and cultural interaction and educational experiences. It is neighborhood-controlled and assists primarily low-and moderate-income residents. USTA Serves grant funds will support the organization's afterschool and summer programming which provides a safe and healthy environment where children can play tennis and have access to computers.  Serving 250 children, United Neighbors youth programs empower youth to support and influence their community, sustain meaningful relationships with others, develop a positive self image, and respect their own and other's cultural identities. 

"USTA Serves is excited to continue investing financial and other resources to support organizations that believe in the powerful combination of tennis and education," said Deborah Slaner Larkin, Executive Director, USTA Serves. "We are proud of United Neighbor's expertise, commitment and passion, and commend the organization for making an impact in the lives of the people they serve."

AMERICAN RED CROSS SAYS MOUNTING EFFECT OF SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CAUSES LOWEST JANUARY BLOOD SUPPLY IN A DECADE

PEORIA, Ill. (January 25, 2011) - Severe winter weather throughout much of the eastern half of the United States in recent weeks has caused the cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet donations through the American Red Cross. The severity of the impact has stressed even the Red Cross' robust national inventory management system, which can move blood products to where they're needed most, such as when severe weather hits.

"We have not seen the January supply drop this dramatically in a decade and we need to reverse this now," said Shelly Heiden, CEO of the Heart of America Red Cross Blood Services region.   "You don't wait to refuel once you've run out of gas. Donating blood or platelets now helps ensure immediate and future patient needs will be met."

The Red Cross urges all eligible donors in unaffected areas to make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the coming days, and those in affected areas to donate as soon as travel is deemed safe, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting redcrossblood.org. Donations will help replenish the Red Cross blood supply to ensure that blood products are readily available for patients with serious medical needs.

The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Blood is perishable and has no substitute. Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days and platelets just 5 days - they must be replenished constantly.

Blood and platelets can be used for trauma victims - those who suffered due to accidents and burns - heart surgery patients, organ transplant recipients, premature babies and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease.

All blood types are needed, especially type O negative, to ensure a reliable supply for patients. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.  Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

 

Secrets of a Johnny's Chef with Chef Steve Hall

 

Culinary Class Wednesday, February 23rd at 6:30

 

Johnny's Italian Steakhouse opens additional culinary class date due to over-whelming interest. Secrets of a Johnny's Chef, will be held on Wednesday, February 23rd at 6:30pm. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, Chef Steve Hall will reveal concise, easy to master techniques in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. By showcasing professional secrets to preparing full flavor food, Chef Steve Hall translates your favorite Johnny's foods into amazing at-home meals.

The culinary class is $40 per participant and the fee is all inclusive: two glasses of wine, generous samples of each course, recipe cards, class fee, tax and gratuity (or 2 martinis for $45). Class fills quickly. Please make reservations early. For more information or to sign up, please call Johnny's Italian Steakhouse at 309.736.0100.

 

February 23rd

Wine and Dine

Deluxe Bruschetta

Goat Cheese Salad

Beef Wellington

Strawberry Shortcake

On Saturday, February 5th the Wapsi River Environmental Education Center will be hosting a winter fun day from 9:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. Come to the Wapsi River Center for a fun-filled day of winter activities.  This is an event the whole family can enjoy, so plan to come out and discover winter at its best.  A limited number of skis and snowshoes are available, so please call to reserve equipment; (563) 328-3286.  BYOM ~ Bring your own mug.

9:00 A.M. ~ Cross-country Ski Clinic ~ Come learn the basics of cross-country skiing and tour the Wapsi Center trails, if conditions allow. Participants will learn about proper skiing techniques, safety and equipment. Participants may bring their own equipment.

12:30 P.M. ~ Snowshoe Nature Hike ~ Join Michael Granger, Wapsi River Center Naturalist, on this excursion into the Wapsi River Center's woodlands. We will be traveling the way of the Native Americans and early pioneers, looking for signs of life in the still, winter woods.

2:00 P.M. ~ Winter Bird Feeding ~ Come learn how to identify winter birds; plus how to attract and feed our feathered friends. Fun for all ages!

3:00 P.M. ~ Wonderful Owls ~ Learn how to identify Iowa's owls and those that reside at the Wapsi River Center. Amazing nocturnal adaptations make these birds incredible hunters. Learn about these amazing raptors and then do some bald eagle viewing in the comfort of the Eagle View Eco Center.

4:30 P.M. ~ 4th Annual Chili Cook-off ~ The Friends of the Wapsi Center, Inc. will be hosting this annual competition. Please bring your best chili creation to share, and possibly win the coveted chili cup!!! Donations are accepted, and please bring your own table setting.

5:30 P.M. ~ Frostbite Star Party ~ Winter is a great time for astronomy. The sky is never clearer than on cold, winter nights. The winter constellations center around Orion, the Great Hunter. In the sword hanging from Orion's Belt, one can find the Orion Nebula, which is one of the most spectacular objects to be seen through a telescope. The St. Ambrose University's Menke Astronomical Observatory is the location; park in lot A.

7:00 P.M. ~ Folk Concert ~ Wapsi River Center ~ Relax and enjoy an evening of acoustical guitar and vocal offerings of the music of Paul Simon, Peter Meyer, John Denver, John Prine and several others as rendered by local talents. You may participate by using one of our simple percussion instruments, bringing your own, singing along, slapping your knee, tapping your foot or just being a quiet listener.

The Wapsi River Environmental Education Center can be found 6 miles south of Wheatland or 1 mile northwest of Dixon, Iowa by taking County Road Y4E.  Then turn north at 52ndAvenue and follow the signs for about 1 mile.

[DUBUQUE, IA ] DubuqueFest Fine Arts Festival is now accepting applications for the 33rd annual juried fine art fair scheduled for May 21 & 22 in Dubuque, Iowa. All interested artists and fine craft artisans are encouraged to apply. The juried fine art fair features the work of 80 artists & artisans from across the region. $1000 cash prizes are awarded to Best in Show, Second Place, & Third Place during an artist's appreciation reception on Saturday, May 21 at the Dubuque Museum of Art. Dubuque, Iowa is quickly building a reputation as an arts & culture destination in the midwest. Through successful arts programming and dedicated city partnerships the DubuqueFest Fine Arts Festival grows along with it drawing lovers of fine art and history to the oldest festival in Iowa's first city.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  • Application deadline is April 1, 2011

  • Application fee: $110

  • Jury fee: $15

  • Two Emerging Artist Scholarships are available.

Applications are available on the DubuqueFest website: www.dubuquefest.org. To request one by mail contact Paula at 563.564.5290 or paula@dubuquefest.org.

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