WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today after the Senate failed to pass the DREAM Act by a vote of 55-41.  Harkin is a co-sponsor of the bill. 

"I am appalled that partisan politics and the archaic filibuster stood in the way of passing the DREAM Act today.  My mother came to the United States as an immigrant and because of the opportunities in this country, I was able to fulfill the American dream.  It is a shame that we cannot extend the same opportunities to others who are willing to contribute to our country and abide by the rules.

"What's frustrating is that the DREAM Act was originally a bipartisan bill that was introduced by a Republican.  In 2003, it had the support of 15 Republican cosponsors.  Unfortunately today the minority has put partisan politics ahead of common sense legislation.

"Contrary to false rumors, this is not an amnesty bill.  Rather, it would have enabled children who are in America as a result of their parents' actions to contribute by attending college or enlisting in the military after completing high school.  These students would not have received immediate citizenship.  They would have to have arrived in the U.S. by the age of 15, displayed good moral character, passed criminal and security clearances, and lived in the United States for at least five years.

"Why would we want to turn away a college educated person who wants to add to our economy and tax base, or a person willing to fight for this county?  We wouldn't - and that is why failure to pass this bill is such bad news for these students and our nation's future."


WASHINGTON, D.C. ­- Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement after the Senate voted 65-31 to overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", the 17-year old Defense Department law that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.  The repeal was passed by the House earlier this week and will now go to the President to be signed into law.  Harkin is a cosponsor of the repeal.

"Today America took a major step toward ensuring the civil rights of its citizens by voting to discard the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.  'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is discriminatory and outdated, and our action to repeal it was long overdue.  Today, the Senate made clear that lesbian and gay Americans are first-class citizens.  The repeal has strong support in the military, both among high ranking leadership and among our enlisted personnel.  By voting to get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, we not only make our military stronger and less discriminatory, but we also advance the cause of freedom for our entire country.

"As Americans, gay and lesbian individuals deserve the same employment rights as everyone else, including the right to be open about their personal lives while serving their country.  It is costly and senseless to discharge capable, qualified soldiers, or to turn away new recruits, based on sexual orientation, especially with our military under such great strain.  I am pleased that our government will no longer discriminate against individuals willing to bravely serve this county."
Washington, D.C -  Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today introduced a resolution in the Senate honoring baseball great Bob Feller who passed away on Wednesday.  Feller, a Van Meter native, was known as a great Iowan, a great baseball player and a great patriot.   The resolution was cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), George Voinovich (R-OH) and Jim Bunning (R-KY).

"This week we lost a great American," said Harkin. "Bob Feller was one of the greatest baseball players in history, but also a decorated soldier who willingly interrupted that career to enlist in the military to serve in World War II.   We do not just honor him because of his athletic achievements, we recognize him as a great American and patriot."

"Bob Feller knew the honor and duty of being an American, and he took that responsibility very seriously.  When his country needed him, he was the first to leave his professional baseball career and answer the call.  And, though most will remember him for his curveball, Bob Feller most wanted to be recognized for his service in World War II defending the United States from totalitarian powers and promoting liberty and freedom around the world," Grassley said.  

Feller started his baseball career as pitcher for Van Meter High School.  He went on to play 16 seasons in the major leagues, during which he had 2,581 strikeouts and 266 wins.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.  Feller also served our Nation in the Navy during World War II, enlisting two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.   Due to his service, he lost four baseball seasons, but has said he never regretted his choice.

A copy of the resolution can be found here.

"As the United States Senate considers the DREAM Act this weekend, I urge everyone in Illinois to call their Senators and express their support for this legislation. The DREAM Act rewards American values: character, education and service to country. This legislation encourages the pursuit of higher education and strengthens our military, while helping young people reach their full potential with a path to citizenship. I commend U.S. Senator Dick Durbin for his sponsorship of this bill, and U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez for his steadfast and vocal support of this legislation. I stand united with all who have voiced their support for expanding the American Dream, and urge the U.S. Senate to pass the DREAM Act this weekend."



Friday, December 17, 2010

President Obama today signed into law an extension of tax relief.  The bipartisan package extends a series of provisions Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa sponsored and shepherded into law as chairman of the Finance Committee in 2001 and 2003 and as a leading supporter of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.  The Finance Committee has exclusive Senate jurisdiction over taxes.  Grassley made the following comment on the President's signing of the bill into law.

"This will be good for taxpayers and the economy.  Raising taxes would have been the worst thing we could do with unemployment at nearly 10 percent. Continued tax relief gives people the ability to keep more of their money to use as they see fit, whether it's buying groceries or investing in their small business.  Sending more money to Washington would just result in more spending, which is the last thing the country needs.  The restoration of the biodiesel tax credit and continuation of the ethanol tax credit, along with 49 other tax incentives for different sectors of the economy, are part and parcel of job retention and creation.  Biodiesel has lost nearly 23,000 jobs because the credit lapsed.  Ethanol has 112,000 jobs at stake.  These industries offer the most effective alternative to expensive foreign oil from unfriendly countries."

The Grassley-sponsored tax-relief bill enacted in 2001 was the biggest in a generation.  It lowered marginal rates and created the 10-percent bracket.  It made tax-free savings plans for college a permanent part of the tax code, created the deduction for tuition, and secured the tax deductibility of interest on student loans.  If this tax relief wasn't extended in 2010, on average, Americans' tax bills would have gone up by 10 percent.  Without action:

--the tax deduction for college tuition would have gone away

--the expanded part of the tax deduction for interest on student loans would have gone away

--the 10-percent tax bracket for low-income workers would have ended

--six million very low-income taxpayers removed from the tax rolls altogether in 2001 would have been taxed again

--the tax-free treatment of employer-provided educational assistance would have gone away.  Across America, one million workers who go to school at night or part-time benefit from this tax relief.

--the tax benefit for certain bonds to improve and build schools would have gone away

--the tax-preferred expanded part of education savings accounts would have gone away

--there would have been a higher tax penalty for marriage

--the child tax credit would have been cut in half (from $1,000 to $500)

--the refundable child tax credit for many people who don't pay taxes would have gone away

--savers, investors and seniors would have paid higher taxes on dividends and capital gains

--the estate tax would have come back in full (to a 55 percent tax rate and $1 million unified credit exemption amount).

For more information on the biodiesel and ethanol tax credits enacted today, click here.

Heart of America Group expands business into East Peoria, IL and Olathe, KS.

Heart of America Group CEO Mike Whalen announced expansion plans for the company into East Peoria, IL and Olathe, KS. Both projects will be built and operated by Heart of America Group. East Peoria will be a six-story, 137 room Holiday Inn and Suites with a Thunder Bay restaurant and a meeting space large enough to accommodate 300 people. "After our success with the Holiday Inn and Suites in West Des Moines, we wanted to team up with them again" said Whalen.

In Olathe, KS they will build a six-story, 107 room Hilton Garden Inn with a Johnny's Italian Steakhouse and large meeting space.

Starting with a 100-seat restaurant back in 1978, The Iowa Machine Shed, Heart of America Group has evolved into one of the Midwest's premier design, construction, and management company with a 32 year history of developing award-winning properties. Currently Heart of America Group is located in ten metropolitan areas across six Midwestern states.

The projects will be a catalyst for the City of East Peoria's EP 2010 project, which will revitalize a vast brownfield former manufacturing area into a mixed use "new" downtown.

Olathe, KS was looking for a business class hotel to accommodate the growth of their area as well. The Olathe project will be the second project in Olathe for the HOA Group; the first hotel is a Comfort Suites and Inns built in 1997 and continues to be operated by HOA Group.

Both hotels will be LEED certified and create 125 jobs in each market. "The hotels will have a unique look. We do all of our own design work so we can create hotels that aren't like anyone else's" continues Whalen, "Next year will be the biggest expansion year in the history of the company".

Construction on both of the $20 million projects will begin this spring with a target completion date in the spring of 2012.

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DES MOINES, IA (12/16/2010)(readMedia)-- Gift cards top many people's holiday wish lists again this year, and State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald wants Iowa consumers to protect the value of those cards by following a few basic tips. "Some of those gift cards will never be redeemed, and nobody can afford to let money go to waste," stated Fitzgerald. "Whether you are giving or receiving gift cards this year, these tips can help ensure that they will be an enjoyable holiday present."


• Verify if the card has an expiration date or fees that reduce the card's value overtime.

• Include the original receipt and disclosure information to the recipient in the event it is needed to replace a lost or stolen card.

• Buy gift cards from reputable retailers where you know the recipient will shop.


• Check for an expiration date and use the gift card promptly.

• Check the disclosures for fees that can reduce the card's value.

• Keep the original receipt if it was included with the gift card.

"We encourage retailers to honor all of the gift cards they sell, even those that have expired," Fitzgerald stated. "In doing so, retailers stay on friendly terms with their customers."

Rules passed last year by Congress prohibit fees on gift cards for one year and expiration dates of less than five years from the date of purchase. Current state law requires that the expiration date and fees be clearly displayed on any gift card with such restrictions.

Consumers with questions or concerns regarding an expired gift card that a retailer will not honor because it has expired are encouraged to contact the State Treasurer's office. Please provide a copy of the gift certificate and a brief letter stating the circumstances of the complaint. The information can be sent to the address below or emailed to upreport@iowa.gov.

Johnston, IA (December 16, 2010) - The Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation awarded $144,765 to 25 Iowa agencies to improve the oral health of Iowans through its mini-grant program.

The Foundation awards mini-grants twice a year in May and October.  Mini-grants are intended to support one-time oral health projects, such as workshops or conferences, or short-term projects of up to one-year in duration, such as a survey, data collection or research study. These grants are also used to stimulate long-term oral health projects and may be combined with funds from other sources.

"The Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation's mission is to support and improve the oral health of Iowans," said Donn Hutchins, president of the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation.  "The mini-grant program is a great example of how the Foundation can support a variety of oral health projects throughout the state that make a measurable difference in the oral health of Iowans."

The agencies being awarded mini-grants by the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation in 2010 include :

  • Davenport, Edgerton Women's Health Center - $3,000 for "Start Them Young," oral health care for infants and toddlers.
  • Quad Cities, Bethany for Children & Families - $9,000 for "Give Kids a Smile" dental program.
  • Clinton & Jackson Counties, Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa - $3,000 for I-SmileTM oral health project.
  • Creston, Matura Action Corporation - $5,000 for sealant program equipment.
  • Council Bluffs, Iowa Western Community College - $10,000 for "Smiling through Prevention" program.
  • Des Moines, AIDS Project of Central Iowa - $5,500 for the "Living with HIV: Oral Care Case Management" program.
  • Des Moines, Children and Families of Iowa - $6,000 for methamphetamine oral health education.
  • Des Moines, Drake University Head Start - $3,000 for "Healthy Head Start Smiles" program.
  • Des Moines, Mercy Foundation - $1,000 for "Keeping Smiles Bright" program.
  • Des Moines, Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa - $4,000 for oral health supplies for I-SmileTM "Summer Splash" and "Give Kids a Smile Day 2011" programs.
  • Dubuque, Crescent Community Health Center - $3,000 for "Miles of Smiles" program.
  • Forest City, Winnebago County Public Health - $500 for dental education and prevention program.
  • Fort Dodge, Iowa Central Community College - $6,200 for preventive oral health projects.
  • Glenwood, Mills County Public Health - $3,000 for "In the Family Way" program.
  • Hiawatha, Hawkeye Area Community Action Program of Linn County - $1,500 for Head Start oral health project.
  • Iowa City, Iowa Student Dental Association and Hispanic Dental Association - $6,000 to create pediatric educational oral health resource materials in Spanish.
  • Iowa City, University of Iowa College of Dentistry - $3,500 for "Oh, Give Me a Home..." project, $6,500 for CDC's CVD/Oral Health/Tobacco cessation initiative, $10,000 for Special Health Care Needs dental flip chart project, and $3,729 for Pediatric Dentistry Residency program.
  • Statewide, Iowa Department of Public Health - $9,900 for I-Smile™ outreach to low-income, pregnant women.
  • Statewide, Iowa Dental Association - $10,000 for the 2010 Annual Conference Guest Lecture Series.
  • Statewide, Iowa Dental Hygienist's Association - $3,000 for Iowa Dental Hygienist's Association annual session.
  • Marshalltown, Mid-Iowa Community Action, Inc. - $6,291 for maternal and child health dental program.
  • Mason City, Mercy Medical Center North Iowa - $10,000 for North Iowa Dental Clinic for the uninsured and underinsured.
  • Mason City, North Iowa Community Action Organization - $1,500 for Family Health Center - oral health prevention and education.
  • Ottumwa, River Hills Community Health Center - $9,645 for Ottumwa and Keokuk County Schools sealant and fluoride varnish program.
  • Ottumwa, Iowa Rural Health Education Partnership (IRHEP) and South Central Area Health Education Center (SC Iowa AHEC) - $1,000 for "Power of Sour" program.

Delta Dental of Iowa is the largest and most experienced provider of dental benefits in the state. As a not-for-profit, Delta Dental of Iowa invests in oral health projects through the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation that focus on access to care, prevention, education and research. The Iowa company is a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association, a national organization of not-for-profit Delta Dental plans. The national association is the largest dental benefits carrier in the nation providing coverage to 54 million people in more than 93,600 employer groups.

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WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley today said that he has nominated outstanding young Iowans to serve in the United States service academies.

"Nominating students to the service academies gives me the opportunity to see some of the highest caliber young men and women our state has to offer.  Every year I'm impressed with these young Iowans who are interested in serving their county," Grassley said. "I'm confident that these nominees will represent our state well, and I'm happy to nominate them."

Grassley nominates several young Iowans each year for a select few spots.  Each academy then selects students based on the number of vacancies for the 2011-2012 school year. Often, because of the high quality of nominations from Iowa, several students are selected to attend each academy.

Grassley said each of the Iowa students who applied for academy nominations were exceptional and he encouraged eligible students to consider submitting applications in the future.  "The academies are some of the best options in our country for a higher education," said Grassley.

Grassley will issue announcements when appointments to the academies are offered.

Here are Grassley's nominations.

U.S. Air Force Academy
Dylan Bechen, Woodbury Central High School, Moville

Daniel Deakins, West Harrison Community School, Mondamin

Daniel Eichman, Dulwich College (Beijing), Dubuque

Brett Heithusen, Williamsburg High School, Williamsburg

Isaac Kinrade, Maquoketa High School, Maquoketa

Felix Knutson, Hubbard

Peighton MacLeod, University High School, Cedar Falls

Jesse Phillips, North Mahaska High School, New Sharon

Alec Stenzel, Valley High School, Cumming

Mackenzie VanDenBerg, West High School, Waterloo

U.S. Military Academy
Shawn Burrows, Bondurant-Farrar High School, Bondurant

Charles Godwin, Exira High School, Exira

Levi Horsley, Carroll High School, Carroll

Travis Mallo, Mason City High School, Mason City

Jedidiah McCoy, Climbing Hill

Thomas McGuire, Gilbert High School, Ames

Kalie Plasier, Randolph Macon Academy (Front Royal, VA), Sioux Center

Sean Raes, Ballard High School, Slater

Caleb Titus, Danville High School, West Burlington

Wyatt VandeVoort, MOC-Floyd Valley High School, Orange City


U.S. Naval Academy
Erik Bergstrom, Johnston High School, Johnston                      

Andrew Chudzik, City High School, Iowa City

Morgan Clutter, Indianola High School, Indianola

James Cox, Jefferson High School, Cedar Rapids

Mary Dougherty, Bishop Heelan High School, Sioux City

Sarah Eikenberry, Roosevelt High School, Des Moines

Andrew Foster, West High School, Waterloo

Joseph Gallet, Iowa State University, Washington High School (Cedar Rapids), Atkins

Tyler Husar, Muscatine High School, Muscatine

Knute Klinker, South O'Brien High School, Primghar

Scott Pate, Clarke Community High School, Osceola

Alex Peschang, Waverly-Shell Rock High School, Waverly

Andrew Peterman, Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf

Andrew Pick, Dowling High School, Clive

Kristin Reichert, Indianola High School, Indianola

John Russell, St. Albert High School, Council Bluffs

Conner Sprague, Wayne Community High School, Derby

Jakob Stoner, Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls

Colton Van't Hof, Sioux Center Community, Sioux Center

Daniel Yehieli, Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls


U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
Tobias Gassman, Ames High School, Ames

Miranda Walz, Central High School - Elkader, Elkader



MOLINE, ILLINOIS -- WQPT, Quad Cities PBS will hold their 10th annual Champagne on the Rocks Gala on January 28, 2011 in the newly renovated Gold Room at the Hotel Blackhawk.  The Presenting Sponsor for Champagne on the Rocks is The Singh Group, Merrill Lynch-Quad Cities, Global Wealth Management.  "We are delighted to be one of the first to hold an event in the iconic Gold Room" said WQPT General Manager, Rick Best.

Champagne on the Rocks is WQPT's premiere fundraising event featuring dinner, diamonds, live and silent auction and a musical revue featuring Larry Adams, who was named "Best Vocalist 2010" by Chicago Magazine. Mr. Adams is returning to Champagne on the Rocks and will have just completed "I Do, I Do" for Light Opera Works.

Each guest receives a champagne glass with a gem as they enter the gala. Representatives from Expressions Jewelers will be on hand to appraise the gems. One lucky guest will win a GIA certified .50-carat diamond, donated by Expressions Jewelers.  Guests will also bid on 100 items featuring trips, golf for four at TPC and tickets to the Adler Theatre and Circa '21.  "We're very excited by the variety of silent auction items as well as the live auction items that include a John Deere Power Washer and a one-of-a-kind vase from artist Steve Sinner," said WQPT Special Projects Coordinator, Bea Brasel.

To view a complete list of auction items log on to www.wqpt.org. For further information or to make a reservation to attend Champagne on the Rocks call 309-764-2400 or log on to wqpt.org.

Sponsors for the event include : Gold Sponsor - The Singh Group/Merrill Lynch Quad Cities, Global Wealth Management; Silver Sponsors -Leo Schubert and Susan Sharer along with Hotel Blackhawk; Diamond Sponsor - Expressions Jewelers and Bronze Sponsor - John Deere.

WQPT is a media service of Western Illinois University located in Moline, IL.