WASHINGTON, D.C. - November 8, 2010 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that $1,000,000 is coming to Iowa through the through the U.S. Department of Labor's Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI).  The funding, which was provided for in the FY 2010 Budget, will be used to improve the quality and availability of Iowa's workforce data.  Senator Harkin is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations committee, and chairs the Senate panel that funds labor initiatives.

"Part of the reason Iowa fared better than other states during this recession is our commitment to investing in our workforce," said Harkin.  "Today's funding will help us develop the data we need to make good decisions about our workforce programs so that we can minimize the impact of economic bumps down the road."

Today's funding will be used to expand Iowa's longitudinal database of workforce data, which links to education data.  The database will be used to facilitate research projects aimed at pinpointing the effectiveness of workforce programs to better inform workforce system customers.  The project is a sister initiative to the Department of Education's Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems project to build longitudinal education databases.

Over the three year grant period, this funding will help Iowa improve state workforce longitudinal data systems with individual-level information; improve the quality and breadth of workforce data systems; use longitudinal data to provide useful information about program operations; analyze the performance of education and training programs and provide user-friendly information to customers to help them select the training and education programs that best suit their needs.

For more information on Iowa's Workforce Development initiatives, please click here.

The Bettendorf Discovery Shop in Cumberland Square invites you to their Annual Holiday Open House Sunday, November 21st from noon to 4 pm.

Let us help you with your shopping list and at the same time you can make a difference in the fight against cancer! The Discovery Shop will be overflowing with all kinds of beautiful holiday clothing, ornaments, collectibles and gift items. If you are looking for something for yourself or for someone on your list, this is a great place to start.

The Discovery Shop is an upscale resale shop. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society to fund cancer research, patient services, education and advocacy.

The shop will be closed Saturday, November 20th to prepare for this event.

Donations are accepted anytime the shop is open and a tax receipt is always available. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm., Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm. and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.

Nightmare sailors, zombie pirates, and hypnotizing mermaids - oh, my!  Join us as Rivermont Collegiate thespians in grades 6-12 present a snappy comedy featuring a play within a play!  As the story goes, the star of a popular pirate play is the heartthrob of every teenage girl in Shakespearean England until the cast is kidnapped by real pirates during one of their productions.  Hilarious antics ensue as the heartthrob pirate Frank and his supporting cast, including prima donna Esmerelda, say goodbye to stardom and hello to servitude on a real pirate ship.  Rivermont students have perfected a performance of The Fearsome Pirate Frank that will provide laughs long after the curtain closes!

Join us Friday, November 12th and Saturday, November 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium on the Rivermont Collegiate campus, located at 1821 Sunset Drive in Bettendorf (directly off 18th Street behind K&K Hardware).  Tickets are $5 at the door.  This event is open to the community!

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

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Merger Will Result in New Division Called TAG Direct

TAG Communications Inc. has acquired the Cedar Rapids-based firm of Direct Marketing Solutions, and will leverage that acquisition to expand its current direct marketing efforts into a new division called TAG Direct. Direct Marketing Solutions has previously worked with for-profit as well as non-profit organizations throughout the Midwest.

While direct marketing will certainly be a service that TAG Direct will provide, the new division will also specialize in data storage, consumer profiling, and demographic management. "We recognize the potential in direct marketing, and how it can be used proactively to transcend what we typically think of when we hear phrases like direct mail," says Mike Vondran, President & CEO of TAG Communications. "There is a lot of potential with TAG Direct and the focused resources we now have will drive business growth for our clients."

Direct Marketing Solutions President Jim Brown, who has been with the company since its inception, joins TAG with over 28 years of experience in the direct marketing industry. Prior to this merge, TAG Communications and Direct Marketing Solutions had collaborated on several projects spanning 12 years, which Brown says made him feel very comfortable joining TAG.

"I've always admired TAG Communications for their focus on generating results for their clients," Brown says. "Now we can fuse our organizations together and have a new way of confronting client sales challenges with complete media integration."

TAG Direct will be the third niche division under TAG Communications, joining TAG Healthcare Marketing and TAG YP (Yellow Pages). The agreement became effective on November 8, 2011.

Celebrating 20 years of developing marketing solutions, TAG Communications, Inc. was previously known as The Ad Group until the group restructured in 2010. TAG delivers results-oriented marketing and communications strategies to their clients through a range of services that includes strategic planning, account management, media management, graphic design, strategic planning, web services, TV/radio production and public relations.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its decision to deny a petition calling for a ban on the manufacture, use and processing of lead in fishing gear.  On October 15, Harkin wrote to EPA expressing his concern that such a ban on lead in fishing gear would impose major changes and possibly business failure for fishing gear manufacturers.  He also raised concerns that it would require major changes for recreational sport anglers across the country.  Harkin asked EPA to thoroughly consider whether or not such a ban on the federal level was warranted.  A copy of that letter can be found here.  In 1995, Harkin introduced a bill in the Senate (S.505) to prohibit similar EPA action after EPA issued a proposed rule for a similar ban.

"In Iowa - and across the county - millions of anglers take to rivers, lakes and oceans to enjoy the great outdoors and spend time fishing; and thousands of locally owned small businesses rely on this industry for their livelihood.   I strongly believe that it is important that we do all we can to protect our environment and conserve our natural resources, but at this time there is not enough evidence to show that lead in fishing gear warrants a federal ban that would cause serious problems to the fishing supply industry and disruptions to the sport fishing community," said Harkin.  "I commend EPA on today's decision and especially on their recognition that the sport fishing community is already increasingly using non-lead fishing gear alternatives.  I look forward to continued collaboration with EPA on this, and other issues, that are so important to small businesses and recreationalists."

On August 3, 2010, the American Bird Conservancy and a number of other groups petitioned EPA under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act to "prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of lead for shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers."  On August 27, the EPA denied the portion of the petition relating to ammunition because the agency doesn't have the legal authority to regulate ammunition.  In a letter today to the petitioners, EPA indicated that the petitioners had not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The letter further indicates that the increasing number of limitations on the use of lead fishing gear on some federal and state lands, as well as various education and outreach activities, call into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to address the concern, as called for under TSCA.  EPA's letter also notes that the prevalence of non-lead alternatives in the marketplace continues to increase.  A copy of EPA's letter and more information can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/chemtest/pubs/sect21.htm.

Program was created by Harkin in 2002 farm bill, improved in 2008 farm bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today commended Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on his announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin issuing Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) payments this month to thousands of farmers and ranchers in all fifty states to help maintain and improve the natural resources on their land.  In Iowa alone, more than 1,400 producers will receive a total of $17,320,411.  As the then Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Harkin authored CSP in the 2002 farm bill and then improved and strengthened it in the current farm bill, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.  Harkin remains a senior member of the Agriculture Committee and continues to work for conservation initiatives.

"As farmers and ranchers respond to the ever-growing demand for food, feed and  fuel from our agricultural lands, CSP will help conserve and protect our natural resources for generations to come," said Harkin.  "I commend Secretary Vilsack and his team for their work to further conservation efforts and implement CSP.  This program is showing to be a success by providing farmers and ranchers with financial incentives that reward good conservation practices and encourage additional strong land stewardship."

CSP is a voluntary program delivered by the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) that financially rewards producers who conserve resources in a comprehensive manner by (1) adopting and carrying out new, additional conservation activities; and (2) improving, maintaining and managing existing conservation activities.  The program is designed to recognize and reward producers for adopting and maintaining sound stewardship on their land and to provide financial incentives for increasing conservation efforts.  CSP is offered to support conservation on private and tribal agricultural land and non-industrial private forest land in all 50 states and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands areas.  The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced or geographic location.  For more information, contact your local NRCS service center or visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp/.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over key federal health care programs, made the following comment on a news report that health care costs will go up for AARP employees.

"AARP supported a partisan health care overhaul that cut Medicare by almost $500 billion. That will result in less choice, fewer benefits and decreased access to care for millions of its members. But now we hear that AARP's members aren't the only ones who will bear the brunt of the new health care law. Like companies across the country, AARP is shifting more costs onto employees in reaction to the health care overhaul. Despite their employer's support, AARP employees are learning that the health care law is not going to address the top priority of making health care coverage less expensive.  Supporters of the law tend to have tunnel vision and focus on how it will affect narrow groups of people, rather than recognizing that most people will just end up paying more.  But the big picture is clear.  Employers and employees nationwide will pay more for health care because of the new law."

A news article from the Associated Press follows.

Citing health overhaul, AARP hikes employee costs

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Associated Press 2 hrs 52 mins ago

WASHINGTON - AARP's endorsement helped secure passage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Now the seniors' lobby is telling its employees their insurance costs will rise partly as a result of the law.

In an e-mail to employees, AARP says health care premiums will increase by 8 percent to 13 percent next year because of rapidly rising medical costs.

And AARP adds that it's changing copayments and deductibles to avoid a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans that takes effect in 2018 under the law. Aerospace giant Boeing also has cited the tax in asking its workers to pay more. Shifting costs to employees lowers the value of a health care plan and acts like an escape hatch from the tax.

"Most plan co-pays and deductibles have been modified," Jennifer Hodges, AARP's director of compensation and benefits, wrote employees in an Oct. 25 e-mail. "Plan value changes were necessary not only from a cost management standpoint but also to ensure that AARP's plans fall below the threshold for high-cost group plans under health care reform."

AARP officials said medical inflation is the main reason employee costs will be going up. The health care law is "a small part," said David Certner, legislative affairs director.

Although the tax on so-called "Cadillac" health care plans doesn't take effect for years, employers are already beginning to assess their potential exposure because it is hefty: at 40 percent of the value above $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for a family plan. The tax is intended as a savings measure, to prod employers and workers into more cost-efficient plans.

Certner said AARP's plans are currently under the threshold for the tax. "We intend to stay below those thresholds," he said. "It's not in anybody's interest to move above those thresholds, not the employees' nor the employer's."

AARP officials say the organization's public policy recommendations are made independently of other considerations, including its range of business ventures, from travel, to insurance, to publishing.

The 40 million-strong AARP represents people 50 and older, including retirees on Medicare and Social Security. Its endorsement of health care overhaul came at a critical time last year, days before a close vote on the House floor.

"The impact on AARP employees is not a factor at all in our policy making, which is directed at the impact on our membership and on all older Americans," said Certner.

About 4,500 people are covered by AARP's plans, including employees, dependents and retirees.

"We supported the (health care) package because it contained incredibly important protections for our younger members, who often have problems getting access to care," said spokesman Jim Dau. "And because it helps our older members in Medicare with important new benefits."

Starting in 2014, the overhaul law prohibits insurance companies from turning down people with medical problems, and limits what they can charge older customers. It gradually closes the coverage gap in the Medicare prescription benefit, and improves coverage for preventive care.

The Obama administration says changes required by the law so far have only had a minimal, single-digit impact on premiums. Many benefits experts agree with that assessment but point out that the increases come on top of untamed health care inflation.

AARP warned its employees that more cost-shifting could be in store. "AARP intends to make similar changes, as necessary, in the future to avoid the (health plan) tax," said Hodges' e-mail.

Current forecasts are that the overhaul will only have a small impact on job-based coverage, slightly reducing the number of people who would otherwise be covered by employer plans. Those workers would have access to taxpayer-subsidized coverage through new insurance markets.

 

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CALL TO ARTISTS:

MINIATURES:

The Phoenix Art Gallery is setting up an exhibit and sale of Miniature paintings.

Medium

: Oil, Acrylic, Water, Pastel, Pencil or Mixed Media.

Sizes

: Maximum size is 11 inches in width or height. This INCLUDES frames if any.

Price:

Please list the target optimum price and price margins along with your submissions.

Submission:

Images of the art can only be sent as cds or photograph images.

Email attachments will not be opened.
Local artists can bring their paintings in personally if they wish.
Please send 1) your resume and 2)artist's statement, the vision and scope of your art along with your submissions.
A copy may be sent by email, but not as an attachment, in anticipation of your cds or photograph images. Please include this in your cd or photograph submission.
Please note: we need BOTH your resume and artist's statements.

Cost of submission

: Free.

Date Deadline

for final submission: November 15th. 2010

Please submit to:
PHOENIX Art Gallery
1530 Fifth Avenue. Moline.Illinois: 61265 Tel: 309-736-0006
Or contact the Owner
owner and director:
Narveen Aryaputri

www.atthephoenix.com

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sen. Chuck Grassley made the following comment on the terms of GM's initial public offering of stock that were made public today.  Grassley is concerned about whether the taxpayers will be repaid for rescuing the automaker.

"The inspector general confirmed for me weeks ago that the GM initial public offering would need to clear a high bar to repay taxpayers.  The inspector general said GM stock would need to sell for an average of $133.78 a share to fully recoup the tax dollars spent to rescue the automaker.   The highest share price the former GM ever reached was $94.63 in 2000.  Today's filing says at least 365 million shares will be offered at a projected $26 to $29 each.  Short of a miracle, the initial public offering won't repay the taxpayers.  The onus is on the Treasury Department to come up with a plan to make sure taxpayers get their money in full."

A press release describing what Grassley learned from the inspector general follows.

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grassley Finds Out What's Needed to Make Taxpayers Whole in GM Bailout

WASHINGTON - Continuing to look out for taxpayers in the bailout of General Motors, Senator Chuck Grassley has secured an official determination that the U.S. government needs to sell all its stock in GM at an average price of $133.78 a share to fully recoup the tax dollars spent to rescue the automaker.

The highest share price the former GM ever reached was $94.63 in 2000.

The latest assessment comes from Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for TARP, in response to a request from Grassley last month.  Grassley worked to establish and empower this inspector general in order to hold the government accountable for the use of bailout dollars.

"I didn't support the government bailout of the automakers, and I'll continue to work to see taxpayers repaid and to hold the Treasury Department accountable for the sale of the taxpayers' share of GM," Grassley said.

Earlier this year, the Iowa senator exposed the misleading claim by the Treasury Department and GM that the car company had "paid back" its $6.7 billion taxpayer-funded loan "in full, with interest, ahead of schedule.  In fact, the loan had been repaid by another taxpayer account.  Because most of the government's emergency loan to GM was converted to shares of stock during bankruptcy, that money can only be recovered if the government can sell its shares of GM at significantly higher prices than it is currently estimated to be worth.

Click to read Grassley's letter Barofsky and Barofsky's reply to Grassley.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - November 4, 2010 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that $1,771,228.41 will be coming to Iowa in tax credits and grants to promote biomedical research.  The funds will help small biotechnology companies to produce new and cost-saving therapies, support good jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness.  The funds are provided under the new therapeutic discovery project program and are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The program was created under The Affordable Care Act, the historic health reform law.  As Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Harkin played a pivotal role in the Senate passage of that law.

"Iowa's biotechnology companies are helping to lead the way in new research that will one day improve and save lives," said Harkin.  "With these funds, we not only support the search for medical cures, which will one day help lower health care costs, we are also keeping Iowa competitive in the global biomedical industry and creating good jobs in our state.  This is truly a double win for Iowa."

According to HHS, the therapeutic discovery project program is targeted to projects that show significant potential to produce new therapies, address unmet medical needs, reduce the long-term growth of health care costs, or advance the goal of curing cancer within the next 30 years.  The allocation of the credit also reflects projects that show the greatest potential to create and sustain high-quality, high-paying jobs in the United States and to advance our competitiveness in the fields of life, biological, and medical sciences.  Today, the biotechnology industry employs 1.3 million workers, and the industry continues to be a key growth engine for our economy.  The credit covers up to 50 percent of the cost of qualifying biomedical research and is only available to firms with fewer than 250 employees.  To provide an immediate boost to U.S. biomedical research and the small businesses that conduct it, the credit is effective for investments made in 2009 and 2010.  Firms could opt to receive a grant instead of a tax credit, so start-ups that are not yet profitable can benefit as well.

Details of the Iowa projects can be found here.

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