WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa just received the Small Business Council of America's Special Congressional Appreciation Award, which has been given only a handful of times over the last 26 years.  Grassley received the award for his "outstanding leadership and efforts on behalf of small businesses in the country," according to the organization.

"I'm grateful to receive this award," Grassley said.  "It's a no-brainer to work to strengthen small businesses.  They create 70 percent of jobs.  Their innovation and services are felt every day. Economic recovery and success depend on the ability of small businesses to preserve and create employment opportunities."

As ranking member or chairman of the Committee on Finance over the last 10 years, Grassley has been in a position to oversee tax and health care policy with an eye toward small business growth and preservation. The Small Business Council of America describes itself as a national nonprofit organization that represents more than 20,000 small businesses in the retail, manufacturing, and service industries on federal tax, health care, and employee benefit matters.

The group said it singled out Grassley for special recognition for his dedication to small businesses, his understanding of the health care and estate tax challenges facing such businesses, and especially his efforts to correct the disproportionate penalties placed on small businesses under a tax shelter crackdown meant to capture large corporations.

For months last year, through the end of the congressional session, Grassley protested the IRS' placement of liens on small businesses that unknowingly invested in prohibited tax shelters. Some of these businesses were assessed tax penalties as high as $300,000 per year but received a tax benefit for as little as $15,000 from the transaction.  Grassley, joined by colleagues, fought to persuade the IRS to provide temporary relief to small businesses facing these penalties until Congress could enact bipartisan, bicameral legislation to fix the penalty structure. Last December, Grassley announced he would hold up all Treasury nominees until the IRS agreed to suspend its enforcement actions.  The IRS agreed to suspend collection enforcement action, and legislation making a permanent fix is advancing through Congress.

Grassley acted out of concern that the Treasury Department gave favorable tax treatment to government bailout participants, including Citigroup, while placing liens on small businesses contrary to congressional intent.

Similarly, the $800 billion stimulus bill was enacted hurriedly in February 2009 with less than one-half of one percent of the bill as tax relief for small businesses.  Grassley protested the lack of consideration for small business.  Last year, he introduced S. 1381, the Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2009.  "This legislation contains a number of provisions that will leave more money in the hands of small businesses so that they can hire more workers, continue to pay the salaries of their current employees, and make additional investments in their business," Grassley said.

Several provisions in Grassley's bill are under consideration for inclusion in a small business tax relief bill under development in the Senate.  The National Federation of Independent Business strongly supports the Grassley bill, writing, "To get the small business economy moving again, small businesses need the tools and incentives to expand and grow their business.  S. 1381 provides the kinds of tools and incentives that small businesses need." 

In addition to his legislative efforts, Grassley has worked and continues to work to educate Congress and the public about the impact of various policy proposals on small businesses.  For example, the President and Democrats in Congress have proposed increasing the top two marginal tax rates from 33 and 35 percent to 36 and 39.6 percent, respectively; increasing the tax rates on capital gains and dividends to 20 percent; fully reinstating the personal exemption phase-out, known as PEP, for those making over $200,000; and fully reinstating the limitation on itemized deductions, which is known as Pease, for those making over $200,000.

Proponents say those increases would hit only "wealthy" individuals and only a small percentage of small businesses.  Grassley has explained in numerous speeches on the Senate floor and elsewhere that according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, 47 percent of all flow-through business income would be subject to the tax rate hikes.  This hits small businesses especially hard, because most small businesses are flow-through entities, which are S corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies and sole proprietorships. Grassley frequently uses data from the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan, official scorekeepers, to underpin his analysis. 

Similarly, during the health care reform debate, Grassley highlighted the cost of various proposals on small businesses, both in terms of their ability to provide health care to their employees and the regulatory burden imposed on them by the new health care regime.

"Just this week, the Treasury Department said hiring by small and mid-size businesses remains stagnant even though large firms have seen an uptick in employment over the last six months," Grassley said.  "If we don't look out for small businesses, we'll be shooting ourselves in the foot and letting down the scores of people who work hard and deserve secure employment."

The Small Business Council of America said it gave the award to Grassley this year "in appreciation and recognition of ongoing, outspoken, and effective legislative efforts on behalf of Small Business in connection with federal tax matters as well as sustained and consistent support of America's private enterprise system."

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement on news that the economy had added 290,000 jobs in April, the largest job growth in four years.  Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Labor Appropriations Subcommittee.

"Today's employment report is welcome news across all sectors of our economy - not only is our economy adding jobs in manufacturing, construction and health care, but Americans are starting to feel more confident in this economic growth.  In recent months we saw real signs of improvement, but with this best month of progress, Americans should start to feel that we are on more solid economic ground.

"This growth is due largely to actions taken by the Federal government.  The Recovery Act continues to send much-needed dollars to states, without which we would have seen an even deeper recession.   Unfortunately, there are still dangers ahead for those still looking for work, so additional efforts to move the country forward are needed. 

"In particular, Congress must pass an extension of unemployment insurance through the end of the year so that families can access this critical safety net.  Unfortunately, Republicans have exploited every opportunity to delay and obstruct this important legislation.  In addition, we must take immediate action to prevent job losses among our nation's educators - to protect the quality of education - and we need to pass additional job-creating legislation to assure that the economy is on solid footing.  I intend to continue to advocate for those efforts in this Congress."

Senator David Hartsuch and Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley will be putting on a forum entitled "Transforming Iowa's Business Climate".  The event will be held on Thursday the 13th at 5:30pm at Frank's Pizza in Bettendorf, near 53rd and 18th Streets. Senator Paul McKinley as a small-business owner from Chariton, Iowa, who has faced first-hand the challenges posed by Iowa's exploding bureaucracy.  Since his election to lead the Republican Senate Caucus in 2009, he is focused on growing Iowa businesses rather than growing government.  Senators Hartsuch and McKinley will share the Republican vision for business growth in Iowa.  Senator David Hartsuch has a 100% perfect voting record as scored by the National Federation of Independent Business and has been a champion for small-business owners in Iowa.  During this past session, Senator Hartsuch promoted legislation in order to ensure that more government contracts were awarded to Iowa owned businesses.  The event will be held on Thursday, May 13 at 5:30 PM it is open to the public.  For additional information call Iowans for Hartsuch at 563-823-8442.

Washington, DC - Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) voted today for legislation that will provide incentives for American-made, energy-saving products. Braley co-sponsored the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act, which has also been called "Cash for Caulkers". The bill passed in the House today by a vote of 246-161.

"This is common-sense legislation that will create jobs and save energy," Braley said. "My 'Cash for Clunkers' program was wildly successful and put middle-class Americans back to work. This program will do the same, while cutting back families' energy bills and reducing our nation's dependence on foreign oil."

The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act creates a two-year, short-term jobs program that will provide rebates to families who purchase energy-efficient products. The Act will also do the following:

  • Create nearly 170,000 clean-energy, American jobs
  • Save American families $9 billion over the next 10 years
  • Reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil

The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act has received bipartisan support, and has been endorsed by a broad range of business, labor, environmental, and consumer groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Home Builders.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) issued the following statement after the Senate voted down an amendment to the financial reform effort that would have protected Wall Street businesses, allowing banks to continue to take advantage of consumers.  In recent days, such national organizations as the AFL-CIO, AARP and Americans for Financial Reform have come out against the amendment. It failed by a vote of 38 to 61.

"One of the key causes of the financial crisis was the complete lack of adequate consumer protection, especially in the area of mortgages.  To help prevent this from happening again, Senator Dodd drafted a bill that includes real protections from unfair and abusive financial products ranging from credit cards, to mortgages, to high interest pay day loans.  The amendment just voted down would have gutted those improvements by keeping those who failed to protect consumers in the run up to the financial meltdown in charge of consumer protection. This is nothing more than a case of the fox guarding the henhouse," said Harkin.

"We must restore a balance between the financial industry and consumers in this country. For too long, our financial system and its regulators have fundamentally failed to protect the hardworking families on Main Street from unfair and abusive practices.  This amendment would have tipped the scales even farther toward the financial sector.  I will continue to oppose all efforts to weaken the protections like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

WASHINGTON - Katelyn J. Flynn, daughter of Sandy and Joel Flynn of Davenport, has just finished spending the spring semester in Washington, D.C. working as a legislative intern for Chuck Grassley. Flynn is a graduate of Bettendorf High School.  She is a junior studying English at Olivet Nazarene University.

"Interning in my office in Washington, D.C. is a valuable experience for any student who wants to get a first-hand look at how the Senate works," Grassley said. "Interns play an important role and are given the chance to take full advantage of their surroundings.  An internship is a unique opportunity for students to gain professional experience that will help them in their future endeavors."

"My internship this semester has been a memorable learning experience of limitless value for me.  I have had wonderful opportunities to learn from Grassley.  Working in this office has been very inspiring.  I feel that my hard work has been a reward in itself, and has not only taught me a lot about politics and work ethic, but I have learned the most about myself.  I have been challenged in ways that have taught me what my strengths and weaknesses are.  The people I met and worked with, the lessons I learned, and the memories I made are all unforgettable," Flynn said.

College students interested in becoming interns for Grassley in Washington, D.C. or any of his state offices should visit Grassley's website at http://grassley.senate.gov.


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Davenport, IA - The Ad Group today announced that the company has changed its name to TAG Communications, Inc.

The change was made in response to the company's growth in recent years, both in terms of the range of services offered and the geographic regions of clients served.

Mike Vondran, President and CEO, states that the new name doesn't mark a dramatic change in direction for the company, but rather an acknowledgement that client needs and expectations have grown. "Our industry has gone through significant changes in recent years," he notes. "The rise of fact-based marketing, increased understanding of brand dynamics and, of course, the e-media revolution; all demand a wider range of expertise. These changes call for a greater understanding of our clients' overall business as well as a new set of tools. The name change reflects the steps we've taken to meet the resulting needs."

In the past year, the company has added a level of senior management with broad experience, both in the region and with the range of industries served. A new healthcare marketing division was formed, both to acknowledge The Ad Group's longstanding service to the healthcare industry and to address growing industry needs. New media management tools have been added and, more recently, the addition of an in-house Web Services department that incorporates social media and addresses the demand for integrated e-media in the marketing mix.

Vondran stresses that current clients figured heavily in the improvements made. "I'm proud to say that a number of clients have been with us since our founding in 1990," he says. "You don't keep a client relationship for 20 years by staying in one place. Our primary mission is to help them reach their goals and these changes are critical to staying true TAG Communications, Inc. is a full service marketing communications company headquartered in Davenport, Iowa.

Founded in 1990, the company serves consumer and business-to-business clients in local and regional markets nationwide. TAG also provides specialized marketing expertise through its TAG Healthcare, TAG Legal, TAG Yellow Pages, and TAG Automotive divisions.

Statement of Congressman Bruce Braley

Committee on Energy and Commerce

Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection

"Hearing on the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010"

May 6, 2010

Thank you, Chairman Rush and Ranking Member Whitfield, for holding this important hearing today on the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010. In 2008, there were more than 37,000 traffic fatalities. While this is a decrease from 2007, this is still far too many American lives and families destroyed. My home county of Black Hawk, Iowa saw 13 traffic fatalities in 2008, which is 13 too many.

Most recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been questioned regarding their response to the problem of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. Since 2000, NHTSA has received 2,600 complaints of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. According to NHTSA, in the past decade 34 people have died in crashes alleged to have been caused by sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. These alarming numbers should have spurred NHTSA to aggressively investigate any problems at Toyota. Instead, NHTSA appears to have conducted only preliminary, inadequate, and ineffective investigations. Particularly throughout the last few months, I've been extremely concerned and disappointed by NHTSA's and Toyota's delayed and insufficient responses to this deadly problem. I am concerned that NHTSA did not act early enough and has only gone through the motions on their investigations of this and other situations.

A primary question that we have heard raised in this Committee is whether NHTSA has the resources and capacity to investigate new and complex systems in vehicles, and to evaluate manufacturers' claims about the operations of their vehicles. I'm confident that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act takes meaningful steps to improve auto safety and strengthen NHTSA by (1) increasing the agency's proficiency in vehicle electronics, and requiring new safety standards for cars run largely by electronic systems; (2)

strengthening enforcement; (3) increasing transparency and accountability in vehicle safety; and (4) providing funding to the agency to further ensure auto safety.

This bill takes great strides towards ensuring proper oversight and resources at NHTSA, and I'm glad we're here today working to improve motor vehicle safety in America. Thank you and I yield back the remainder of my time.

WASHINGTON -Chuck Grassley this week continued his efforts to protect those who stand up to blow the whistle on wrong doing, even when it's unpopular, for fear of retaliation.

Grassley and Senator Ben Cardin filed an amendment to the banking bill that would make the employees of Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations - such as Moody's Investor Service, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch Ratings - eligible for protection under whistleblower protections signed into law in the Corporate and Auditing Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency Act of 2002.

"People who know of wrong doing should feel comfortable to come forward without fear of retaliation," Grassley said.  "Providing whistleblower protection to credit rating agency employees is another way to shore up public trust in our financial system and help prevent history from repeating itself by ensuring those who know of problems feel free to speak up."

Grassley secured the provisions in the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley law after the fall out of several Enron-like scandals led to a crack down on corporate fraud and abuse.  The provisions made federal whistleblower protections available to employees of publicly traded companies for the first time ever.


The City of Rock Island is preparing for a busy season of road construction projects throughout the city. A total of $7,755,844 will be spent on street construction projects using funding sources such as a Federal stimulus grant, State grant funding, and gaming revenue.

"The past few winters have been very hard on our streets. We ask for patience and understanding as we work to make repairs," stated City Manager John Phillips.

"These are difficult times financially for all cities, however we want our citizens to know that street projects are still a priority. We were able to secure Federal and State funding to help with many projects," stated Mayor Dennis Pauley.

"We understand that barricades and street construction are an inconvenience, but are necessary to fix our streets. We appreciate your patience and caution as repairs are underway," Mayor Pauley continued.

Some of the major street projects include 30th Street resurfacing, 38th Street pavement patching, and Turkey Hollow Road resurfacing.

This is a significant increase in the amount spent on street construction projects this year, mainly due to the additional funding sources from the State and Federal grants. City Council determined that streets were a priority in reviewing the capital budget this year, and the funding was allocated accordingly.