Washington, DC - March 3, 2011 - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) voted to help small businesses by repealing the burdensome "1099" provision of the health care law, which was added by the Senate. The Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act, sponsored by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Braley, passed with a vote of 314 to 112 in the House today. Rep. Braley released the following statement:

"Small business owners need to focus on running their businesses and creating jobs - they don't need additional burdensome regulations," said Rep. Braley. "I've heard from business owners in my district in Iowa and they've told me that the 1099 provision increases the cost of doing business and puts an unfair burden on them. I'm glad the House took action today to repeal this provision and help small businesses in my state and across the country."


WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - March 3, 2011 - The average YouTube viewer watched 93 videos last year and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) wants to make sure stories that showcase  the "People, Progress and Pride" of Iowa are among them!  That's why the state's largest grassroots farm organization has selected YouTube as the platform for a unique contest designed to highlight the best of Iowa; the grand prize is a new iPad and lifetime Farm Bureau membership.

The "Ultimate Farm Bureau Member Contest" is simple; make a 60-second-or-less video about why you are the 'Ultimate Farm Bureau Member' and post that video to YouTube.  There are many possibilities; you can showcase your work with local schools on behalf of your county Farm Bureau, or Food Bank volunteer projects, youth leadership or rural vitality or civic leadership duties.  IFBF members are actively involved with their local communities and the videos are a way to showcase their involvement.  With the prevalence of creative videos on the net, IFBF leaders believe Iowans will find a lot of options!

"The video doesn't have to be professional quality; it can even be something that a member records on a cell phone or camera," said Dana Ardary, IFBF Marketing Manager. "What we are really looking for, are members who are passionate about belonging to Farm Bureau and want to tell others about it. It's really something you can have fun with."

To enter, members can click the Ultimate Farm Bureau Member tab on the Iowa Farm Bureau Facebook page or visit our website at: www.iowafarmbureau.com to view details, contest rules and enter to win.  Final videos need to be submitted to YouTube and then a link sent to IFBF communications staffer Bo Geigley at: bgeigley@ifbf.org by March 18.

A panel of judges will select the top five videos that best exemplify a passion for Farm Bureau's "People, Progress, Pride" brand and will be featured on the IFBF website (www.iowafarmbureau.com).  The public will cast the final vote on the " Ultimate Farm Bureau Member" winning video.  The winner will be announced April 15.  The contest deadline is nearing, so get your cameras rolling!


Brown Mackie College - Quad Cities will host Education Day on Saturday, March 12, from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Grow Your Life. Evolve Your Mind. Become Your Vision.  Learn about targeted education for future careers and convenient "one course a month" day and evening schedules. They can also meet the president, faculty, staff, students, and have the opportunity to tour classrooms and labs.  Flavor Flav's delicious chicken will be featured during the event.

Education Day is open to the public and there is no charge to attend. To register online, visit brownmackie.edu/EducationDay.

EVENT:  Brown Mackie College Education Day
'Grow Your Life. Evolve Your Mind. Become Your Vision.'

DATE:    Saturday, March 12, 2011

TIME:     10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Where:   Brown Mackie College - Quad Cities
2119 E. Kimberly Road
Bettendorf, IA 52722
Des Moines -- U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) announced today that he is accepting applications for nomination to the United States' military academies for the class entering in the summer of 2012.  Senator Harkin will nominate up to ten Iowans for every opening he has at each academy, with final selection for admission made by the individual academy form that group of ten. 

"Each year I look forward to recommending so many outstanding young Iowans to the service academies.  It is a genuine honor," Harkin said.

Our nation's military academies offer Iowans outstanding educational opportunities for young people interested in military service.  Students can specialize in a variety of fields at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs and the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.

Harkin enjoyed a successful military career. He joined the Navy and served as a jet pilot after graduating from Iowa State University in 1962.

Most of the state's high school guidance counselors should have information about the application procedures prospective candidates must follow.  Senator Harkin uses a competitive method to screen applicants, including the evaluation of ACT or SAT scores, high school grade point average, leadership abilities, and physical aptitude.  Harkin has also appointed an academy selection committee that conducts personal interviews with academy finalists.

Interested individuals should complete Senator Harkin's Service Academy Nomination application which can be found on his website http://harkin.senate.gov.   Any additional questions should be directed to his Academy Nomination Coordinator, Tom Larkin, at 319-365-4504.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - March 1, 2011 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation yesterday to award the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) who provided, as civilian volunteers using their own aircraft, extraordinary public and combat emergency services during World War II.  Joining Harkin, the Commander of the Congressional Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, in introducing the legislation were Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Begich (D-AK).

"With aircraft that was often only equipped with a compass and a single radio, and lacking any personal safety equipment, members of the civil air patrol flew over 24 million miles during World War II, playing a vital role in protecting the nation," said Senator Harkin. "These individuals courageously answered the call of duty and deserve to be honored for their extraordinary service."

"These brave men and women, using little more than the basic aeronautical instruments, dutifully patrolled our air space and searched for submarines off our coasts during World War II.  They made the same sacrifices that I and thousands of uniformed armed service members made during that epic conflict," said Senator Daniel K. Inouye, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. "They deserve our praise and I am thankful that they will finally be honored for their service.  This recognition is long overdue."

"I could not be more pleased to recognize the heroic World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol by joining this critical bill," said Senator Snowe. "The volunteer civilian men and women of the Civil Air Patrol provided vital wartime service to the military, states, and communities nationwide.  Their selfless missions, ranging from search and rescue operations, to submarine patrols, to border patrol and forest fire patrol, just to name a few, contributed immeasurably to the welfare and safety of our nation.  We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have put their lives on the line for the security and protection of our nation, and I urge my Senate colleagues to join me in recognizing the many unsung heroes of World War II who served in the Civil Air Patrol."

"During World War II, American heroes were not only found on the shores of Normandy or Iwo Jima but were training fighter pilots and sinking enemy U-boats along the U.S. coast," Senator Wyden said. "The brave men and women of the Civil Air Patrol - some of whom gave their lives - deserve the highest honor their nation can offer which is why I have cosponsored this bill to award them the Congressional Gold Medal."

"The members of the Civil Air Patrol went well above and beyond the call during World War II, giving of themselves and their personal property to defend our nation," Senator Crapo said. "These brave Americans stood willing during a critical time of need for the nation and deserve the utmost recognition for their selfless service."

"This is a very deserving honor for these volunteers who were a critical part of the effort during World War II," said Senator Begich. "The Civil Air Patrol still operates in Alaska today and is a vital part of search and rescue efforts throughout our state."

In March of 1942, members of the Civil Air Patrol started an anti-submarine coastal patrol off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. CAP operations reported 173 submarines and found 325 survivors of attacks. There were more than 60,000 adult civilian members of the CAP in a wide range of positions, and CAP aircrews flew a total of approximately 750,000 hours during the war, most of which were in their personal aircraft and often at real risk to their lives. CAP operations were characterized by an exceptional emphasis on safety, discipline and organization.  However, by the end of the war, 64 members of the CAP had died in service.

(Davenport, IA) The Davenport Parks and Recreation Department announced today that it will give away free trees and shrubs again this year for Earth Day, on Saturday, April 23rd. The trees and shrubs will be given away at Vander Veer Conservatory between 10am and 12 noon. Several Master Gardeners will be available to teach participants about proper planting and care techniques for the tree or shrub, along with information about supporting wildlife. Tree planting and care information for the public will be available.

"Earth Day marks the anniversary of what some consider the beginning of the modern environmental movement", according to Greg Wolf, Environmental Education Supervisor for the Davenport Parks and Recreation Department. "What better way to show our Department's support of this movement, than to give away trees and shrubs." Trees are donated by the Scott County Soil and Water District and Living Lands and Waters (Plant a Million Trees Campaign). Trees given away will include a variety of oaks, white spruce, red osier dogwood, serviceberry, and others. "Supplies are limited," said Wolf. "Trees and shrubs will be given away on a first come, first serve basis."

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

S. 23, The America Invents Act

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mr. President, at this time I want to speak in support of S. 23, the America Invents Act.  I appreciate all the hard work that Chairman Leahy, Senator Hatch, Senator Sessions, Senator Kyl and others have put into this bipartisan bill.

Over the past 5 or so years that the Senate Judiciary Committee has been considering comprehensive patent reform, Chairman Leahy has engaged Senators on both sides of the aisle as well as a wide range of groups.  His efforts have been pivotal in bringing together diverse views and crafting a reasonable compromise bill.  In fact, the bill is supported by a large number of industries and other stakeholders from the United States patent community.  I commend the leadership of Chairman Leahy, as well as the leadership of Senator Hatch, for getting us to where we are now.

Intellectual property rights are extremely important to our nation's economy.  An effective and efficient patent system will help promote innovation and technological advancements in America, and make life better for us all.  An effective and efficient patent system also will help provide a stimulus for businesses and generate new jobs.

Everyone agrees - we need a well functioning Patent and Trademark Office so that it can complete its work in a timely manner.  We should find ways to help the Patent and Trademark Office speed up the patent application process and eliminate the current backlog it is experiencing.  We should reduce costs and decrease abusive litigation, and improve certainty in the patent process and strengthen patent quality.

The America Invents Act will help do all these things.  The bipartisan bill before us will update and upgrade the United States patent system.  It will enhance transparency and patent quality.   And, it will ensure that the Patent and Trademark Office has the tools and funding to cut its backlog and process patent applications more quickly.  The improvements to the patent system contained in our bill will help spur economic prosperity and job creation.  I'm pleased to support it.

Specifically, the bill would improve patent quality by establishing the opportunity for third parties to submit prior art and other information related to a pending application for consideration by a patent examiner.  By allowing prior art to be submitted earlier in the process and explained to the Office, patent examiners will be able to issue higher quality patents.

The bill would create a "first window" post-grant opposition proceeding open for 9 months after the grant of a patent.  This would allow the Patent and Trademark Office to weed out patents that shouldn't have been issued in the first place.  This new post grant review process - which was recommended in a 2004 Report issued by the National Academy of Sciences - would enable early challenges to patents, but also protect the rights of inventors and patent owners against endless litigation.  The reason we want to ensure that the Patent and Trademark Office issues high quality patents is to incentivize investment in truly innovative technological advances and provide more certainty for investors in these inventions.

In addition, the bill would improve the current inter partes administrative process for challenging the validity of a patent.  It would establish an adversarial inter partes review, with a higher threshold for initiating a proceeding and procedural safeguards to prevent a challenger from using the process to harass patent owners.  It also would include a strengthened estoppel standard to prevent petitioners from raising in a subsequent challenge the same patent issues that

were raised or reasonably could have been raised in a prior challenge.  The bill would significantly reduce the ability to use post-grant procedures for abusive serial challenges to patents.  These new procedures would also provide faster, less costly alternatives to civil litigation to challenge patents.

The bill would institute a gate keeping role for the court to assess the legal basis for damages and jury instructions.  This would provide more certainty in damages calculation and promote uniformity and fairness.  The bill also would transition the United States to a first-inventor to file system, simplifying the application process and coordinating it with our trading partners.  This change will reduce costs and help improve the competitiveness of American inventors abroad.

Further, the bill would provide fee setting authority for the Patent Trademark Office Director to ensure that the Patent and Trademark Office is properly funded and can reduce its current backlog of patent applications.

The bill also would mandate a reduction of fees by 50% for small entities and 75% for micro-entities.

I want to particularly thank Chairman Leahy for working with me and Senator Baucus on a provision that would curtail patents on tax strategies.  These patents encumber the ability of taxpayers and their advisors to use the tax law freely, interfering with the voluntary tax compliance system.  Tax strategy patents undermine the fairness of the Federal tax system by removing from the public domain ways to satisfy a taxpayer's legal obligations.  If firms or individuals hold patents for these strategies, some taxpayers could face fees simply for complying with the tax code.  Moreover, 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.

Our provision would ensure that all taxpayers will have equal access to strategies to comply with the tax code.

This provision was carefully drafted with the help of the Patent and Trademark Office not to cover software preparation and other software, tools or systems used to prepare tax or information returns or manage taxpayer's finances.

In conclusion, the America Invents Act will protect inventors' rights and encourage innovation and investment in our economy.  The bill will improve transparency and third party participation in the patent application review process.  This, in turn, will strengthen patent quality and result in more fairness for both patent holders and patent challengers.  The bill will institute beneficial changes to the patent process to curb litigation abuses and improve certainty for investors and innovators.  It will help companies do business more efficiently on an international basis.

The bill also will enhance operations of the Patent and Trademark Office with administrative reforms and will give the Office fee setting authority to reduce backlogs and better manage its business.

I'm pleased to support this hard fought bipartisan legislation, and I urge my colleagues to support it as well.



North Liberty - March 1, 2011 - SpeedConnect announced today the significant expansion of their wireless broadband service from technology installed on towers in West Branch and Wilton, IA, that should cover most of the rural community within 15 miles of these locations. This expansion project complements an existing service coverage area that includes Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Vinton, Marion, Anamosa, Williamsburg, North Liberty, much of the Quad Cities, as well as communities close to these areas.

SpeedConnect, a company started in Michigan, expanded into Eastern Iowa by acquiring the customer base and network from CommSpeed in May of 2010. Since that time, SpeedConnect has established a local office in North Liberty, IA, led by Tony Lounsberry who relocated from their Michigan operation. SpeedConnect has spent the last six months investing over $450,000.00 to upgrade and improve the technology supporting the existing customer base, and preparing for expansion of service availability.

SpeedConnect offers a premium broadband connection that is designed to support the usage demands of the modern day broadband consumer, including online movie subscriptions, gaming and other online video streaming services. As an alternative to cable and telephone broadband services, SpeedConnect offers superior reliability, performance and the ability to work with a local company.

"The broadband connection has become the source of home entertainment," said John Ogren, SpeedConnect's president.  "Our customers consistently tell us they are streaming broadcast and motion picture content directly to their computer or TV over our broadband service, rather than from a now-antiquated, higher-priced cable television or satellite service."

Tony Lounsberry, Iowa General Manager, outlined the expansion, saying, "Our upgrades are done and we are ready to provide an exciting new service to the residents of Iowa in our coverage areas. SpeedConnect's service is different than most broadband options. If you'd like to know how home entertainment can be more affordable for you, please call us today. Our operations in Michigan have been providing rock-solid, reliable broadband service for more than ten years, and we are looking forward to serving our new Iowa customers."

About SpeedConnect
SpeedConnect, a leading provider of wireless broadband services, owns and uses FCC-licensed 2.5 GHz EBS and BRS spectrum and technology. Owners Robert G. Liggett, Jr. and John A. Ogren founded SpeedConnect in Michigan and expanded the operation to Iowa in May of 2010. For more information, go to www.speedconnect.com 3049 Bay Plaza Drive, Saginaw, Michigan 48604. 866-297-2900.

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program of Scott County Iowa serves pregnant, post-partum, and breastfeeding women; infants and children through age five. The program provides monthly checks to every family member who is eligible and enrolled in the program. The checks are for healthy foods that can be bought at participating grocery stores. WIC provides an average of $50-$75 worth of checks to each participant monthly.

Women, parents, and guardians of children under age 5, can call one of our two locations to check their program eligibility. WIC at Edgerton Womens Health Center 563-359-6635 and WIC at Friendly House 563-322-1105. Hours of operation for both facilities are Monday, Tuesday and Friday 8am-4:30pm, Wednesday at Friendly House 9:30am-6pm and Thursday at Edgertons 9:30am-6pm.

The WIC program also offers child immunizations and lead screens, as well as, breastfeeding support. Call today to see if you qualify for any our program benefits!

Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Baker has accepted the position of president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce in Michigan. Baker will begin his new duties in April. Grand Rapids is located in western Michigan, and is part of the Grand Rapids-Wyoming Metropolitan Statistical Area, pop. 776,000.


Baker's experience in the chamber of commerce field spans more than 23 years, including 17 years in the Quad Cities. He served 16 years as president and CEO of the Illinois Quad City Chamber before taking on the role of president and chief operating officer of the recently-formed Quad Cities Chamber last fall. Prior to arriving in the Quad Cities, Baker was president of the Newton, Iowa, Chamber of Commerce. He began his chamber career in Rochester, Minn., in 1987.


"The merger of the Illinois Quad City and Iowa Quad Cities Chambers amplified the visibility of our region on a national stage and increased the professional marketability of chamber staff. This new opportunity in Grand Rapids came about because of the visibility related to the merger," said Baker. "The offer from Grand Rapids was simply one that I could not turn down. Still, I will leave the Quad Cities with many fond memories and immense gratitude for those whom I've worked closely with over the years."


Tara Barney, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce CEO, commended Baker. "I wish Rick well in his new community. He is a consummate professional and a great leader. His many years of experience helped pave the way for the chamber's transition to the current regional model; the merger simply could not have happened without Rick's support and guidance. That another chamber came knocking at his door does not surprise me. He is highly respected within our field," she said.


Baker added that he has "every confidence in the new regional model for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce."


The Grand Rapids Area Chamber has approximately 2,800 members. "We look forward to bringing on a leader who will hit the ground running, building on the base of success we have established at the Grand Rapids Chamber," said Meg Goebel, president, Paul Goebel Group and chairperson of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.