October 13, 2015

Kinnick Stadium concert tickets go on sale today

Backporch-Revival-logoTickets go on sale today to the general public for the first ever concert to be held in Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City in August of next year.

Former Hawkeye All-American and NFL tight end Dallas Clark led the push for the concert billed as “The Back Porch Revival.”

“We have Blake Shelton as our headliner along with many other great artists, a couple still to be announced,” Clark says. “It’s gonna be an epic night, but the best part about this whole revival is that all the proceeds from this concert go and help support the Native Fund — which is an organization that me and a few friends started up.”

The idea for the Native Fund started back in 2008 with the tornado that devastated Parkersburg and then the flooding in eastern Iowa. Clark, a Livermore, Iowa native, was playing for the Indianapolis Colts at the time and watching from afar.

“Kind of felt helpless and wanted to do something and didn’t really know what to do. I came up with kind of this epiphany that God put on my heart of Iowans helping Iowans and kind of an Iowa version of the Red Cross,” Clark explains. Clark’s NFL schedule didn’t allow him to make much progress with the idea until a few years later when his football playing days ended.

“Moved the family back to Iowa and retired and it kinds of was still weighing on my heart a little bit and made a few phone calls this spring. And I mean it’s been non-stop since this spring when we kind of ran it across the University of Iowa and Mr. Barta (Iowa AD) gave us the green light with the stadium and the university’s approval,” Clark explains. Now he is hoping people will see what they can do by purchasing a concert ticket. “Be a part of history and help the state of Iowa all in one,” Clark says.

Iowa football season ticket holders got a chance to buy tickets to the event prior to opening up of sales for the general public. Clark hopes those who don’t see the Hawkeyes as their favorite team will get involved too. “Non-Hawkeye fans I think if you can look into ‘hey I am buying a ticket because I want to help the Native Fund and I want to help Iowans helping Iowans,’ then please buy a ticket and come and swallow your pride of red or purple or blue and be a part of the big event” Clark says. “Because it is, it’s an Iowa celebration, it’s an Iowa event.”

Clark says when it comes time to helping, Iowans everyone is the same no matter what school they support or where they live. “It’s going to be where is the need let’s go. We’re not going to worry about the details, you just go and you help your neighbor when they need help. That’s the Iowa way and that’s what I put my hat on,” Clark says. Clark hopes the Native Fund builds on the idea of the Iowa way of helping each other. “It’s just something that we need to constantly remind ourselves of why this state is great, what it means to be an Iowan and why it is so important,” Clark says. “And I don’t think it hurts to be reminded of that and to have situations where we can prove that. An I think that’s how we build the love and the foundation that we have in our great communities throughout the state.”

Tickets for the August 27th concert go on sale at 10 A.M. today on www.thebackporchrevival.com. Other country artists set to perform include: David Ray, Morgan Frazier and Tucker Beathard (who is the brother of Hawkeye quarterback C.J. Beathard).

There will be around 56,000 tickets sold with prices starting at $39. Actor Ashton Kutcher and golfer Zach Johnson, both native Iowans, are on the board of directors of the non-profit that Clark created for The Native Fund.


U.S. and Iowa Ag Secretaries see good things for Iowa in trade agreement

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talk with reporters today about the trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that was just completed Monday. “This is the largest multi-lateral trade agreement of its kind,” Vilsack says, “the 12 countries that are part of this trade agreement represent 40 percent of the world’s economy. And are involved with over 40 percent of American agricultural export activity to date.”

Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, says the TPP eliminates are reduces a series of taxes or tariffs against U.S. agricultural products. “This is an opportunity for the United States to continue expanding agricultural exports, providing through this agreement a level playing field for American producers. This is a very high-value, high-standards agreement,” according to Vilsack.

He says the agreement cuts the tariffs and increases preferential treatment for virtually all commodity groups. “Beef, pork, poultry, dairy, horticulture, rice, grains, soybeans, wheat, cotton,” Vilsack says. Vilsack says the experts are going through the agreement now and the final copy should be available in 30 days.

Bill Northey

Bill Northey

Iowa Agriculture Secretary, Bill Northey, says it’s too early to make a complete judgment on how the agreement will impact Iowa.

“We’ve heard some good things about what’s in that agreement, nothing firm, and it’ll be probably at least several weeks before we see what’s in it. But, especially meat exports, Iowa is big exporter of pork of course and certainly our beef goes overseas, and some grains too,” Northey says. He says releasing tariffs on beef and pork could really help Iowa producers.

“The meat trade historically has been rife with import tariffs and other kinds of arrangements that limit our meat going into some of the Asian markets. And this is reported to take away some of those barriers that would allow a little more exporting of meat,” according to Northey. He says farmers and farm organizations in Iowa have worked hard to promote trade in many of the countries that are part of the TPP and the state is well placed to benefit from additional market access.


Senator accuses governor of seeking ‘absolute power’

Joe Bolkcom

Joe Bolkcom

The chairman of the committee in the state senate that drafts tax state policy says Governor Terry Branstad is trying to push through a $37 million tax break for businesses that senators reviewed but did not approve two years ago.

“He’s making an end run around 150 legislators who, at this point, have not come to consensus on whether or not in fact we ought to approve this policy,” says Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City who is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Bolkcom says the governor is abusing executive power by having the proposal drafted as an administrative rule and implemented by his state agency.

“This governor has been around so long he thinks that he gets to make all the decisions and this is just another example,” Bolkcom says. “Earlier this year he closed two Mental Health Institutes. A year and a half ago he closed the Juvenile Home for girls. He shut down 60 Workforce Development centers. All of those things illegal, but he believes that he has absolute power at this point.”

Bolkcom says the move is also suspect because Branstad item vetoed millions of dollars worth of state spending for schools in July.

“Three months later we apparently are flush with money and are able to give another major corporate tax cut,” Bolkcom says.

The proposal deals with “consumable supplies” that are used in the manufacturing process, like hydraulic fluids and drill bits. Branstad’s Department of Revenue is proposing an administrative rule that would exclude “consumable supplies” from the state sales tax. It’s an estimated savings of $37 million for Iowa businesses. Branstad describes it as a way to “modernize” the tax code. A bill that would have achieved the same goal passed the Republican-led Iowa House in 2013, but stalled in the Iowa Senate, where Democrats control the debate agenda. A legislative committee reviews all administrative rules and could block the proposal.

Branstad disagrees with former foe’s ‘legal analysis’ about Planned Parenthood funding

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad says he disagrees with the assertions his 2010 Republican Primary opponent is making about state money going to Planned Parenthood.

Bob Vander Plaats, a leading Christian conservative activist in Iowa, says Branstad is making “phony excuses” and failing to follow through on a 2010 campaign promise to “defund” Planned Parenthood.

“I just disagree with his legal analysis,” Branstad told reporters this morning during his weekly news conference.

Branstad pointed to Vander Plaats assertion several years ago that Iowa’s governor had the authority to undo the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

“He’s also the one that said…a governor could overturn a Supreme Court decision by an executive order and I think we all know that’s not true,” Branstad said. “And we’ve now seen the United States Supreme Court step in on that issue.”

Planned Parenthood does not get taxpayer money to cover abortion costs, but it does get reimbursed for providing other services to Medicaid patients, like annual reproductive health tests and breast cancer screenings. Vander Plaats said last week that a letter from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal “schools” Branstad on how to cut off that money to Planned Parenthood, but Branstad said Jindal has been sued for making that move.

“As has the governor of Alabama, the governor of Arkansas and I think, most recently, the governor of Utah,” Branstad said. “So we have carefully reviewed and analyzed what we can do.”

The contracts that provide reimbursement to Planned Parenthood cannot be broken, according to Branstad.

“Unless we can show a violation of the terms of their grant, the attorney general has told us we don’t have any authority to do so,” Branstad told reporters this morning.

Branstad said if he did issue an executive order to cut off all taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood sued, the chances he’d win the lawsuit are “not very good at all.”

“I’m interested in working with the legislature on these issues, but I also respect the limitations on the authority that I have,” Branstad said.

The Family Leader has launched a “Keep Your Promise” ad campaign to pressure Branstad on the issue.

State tax collections down 4.8 percent in September

One Hundred US Dollar Notes, close upA senior analyst in the legislative branch of state government is advising against over-reacting, but overall state tax revenues took a nose dive in September.

“It’s too early to start looking at things as poor, but the next couple of months will tell us whether this is a new trend or if this was just one month of numerous bad things happening,” says Jeff Robinson, a financial analyst who works in the Legislative Services Agency.

Net state tax receipts in September were almost five percent below the revenue collected in September of last year.

“September on the surface was a pretty poor month with declines in all of our major tax revenue sources,” Robinson says.

Consumer spending at the national level is inching up, but Iowa sales and use tax collections were down nearly six percent in September.

“The expectation for the entire fiscal year is that it will be up five percent, so that’s a major cause of concern,” Robinson says.

Personal income tax payments to the state were down almost three percent.

“One month doesn’t necessarily make a trend and a bad September really pulled down the growth for the year,” Robinson says.

The current state fiscal year started July 1. Cash receipts for the state increased a little less than one percent in the first quarter. That’s far below expectations.

“Personal income tax at four percent growth…through the first three months is below the 6.8 percent growth that we’re expecting,” Robinson says. “The receipts in September were particularly poor.”

Robinson is keeping an eye on the relationship between state income tax payments and state sales and use tax receipts. The key question? Why is growth in what Iowans are earning — seen in the growth of income tax payments to the state — not translating into more spending, which can be tracked by monitoring the taxes Iowans pay when buying goods and services.

Three facing felony charges in Glenwood shooting

Police-car-backThree people are now charged in a weekend shooting in Glenwood. The Mills County Attorney says 18-year-old Denver Cook of Glenwood is charged with a felony count of willful injury and a misdemeanor of assault causing bodily injury.

Twenty-one-year-old Colton McDaniel of Glenwood is charged with assault causing bodily injury, and 42-year-old Hurl Beechum the third of Queen Creek, Arizona is charged with 3 felonies — intimidation with a dangerous weapon, willful injury, and going armed with intent. He also faces two counts of assault while displaying a dangerous weapon.

Court documents show Beechum, a former ISU basketball player, admitted to shooting Colton McDaniel after McDaniel, Cook and four others confronted Beechum’s mother. They six allegedly started a fight after Beechum’s mom raised concern over an alleged racial slur they made toward her.  The court documents say Beechum held out his hands with a gun and said “they jumped us so I had to shoot them.”

Beechum’s step-father, Richard Hutchinson was knocked out during the fight. Beechum was taken to the hospital for treatment of multiple cuts after Cook and McDaniel allegedly punched and kicked him.


Iowa Congressman Blum part of funding hearing with Planned Parenthood CEO

Rod-BlumIowa Congressman Rod Blum, a Republican from Dubuque, was part of the House committee which held a hearing with the leader of Planned Parenthood Tuesday on the organization’s use of federal funds.

Republicans are pushing and effort to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood in the wake of undercover videos allegedly showing representatives of the organization trying to sell the body parts of aborted babies.

Blum had five minutes to question Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and asked her about how the federal funding is used in an exchange where they often talked over each other. “Your providers, do they make money, your individual affiliate offices, do they make money providing abortions, in general,” Blum asked. “In general, there is no general,” Richards says, “I mean we are a nonprofit. There are three sources of income. There are federal and public funds and there are donations,” Richards started to say, but Blum jumped in,”I’m talking about individual abortions if someone can’t afford to pay for it. What’s an abortion cost?” Richards responded, “It depends, depending on the state, depending on the procedure.”

Blum asked Richards if providers used profits from Medicaid to fund abortions. “As you know across the country, Medicaid rates vary widely. In some states they come closer to paying for the cost of the services. In a lot of states we actually have to raise private donations to supplement what it costs for,”Richards says. “So, you may make money on some Medicaid reimbursement services, correct?,” Blum asked. “I don’t know that anyone does, but I would be happy to find out,” Richards replied.

Paying for abortions with federal funds is illegal except in a few cases. Blum continued to ask Richards about the use of Medicaid funds for abortions. “The profits generated from taxpayer funded sources such as Medicaid reimbursements, are any of those profits used to help cover the cost of abortions?,” Blum asked. “I don’t believe…we can go through all of our 990’s, happy to go through with the committee, but I don’t believe that there are any profits from any Medicaid services in this country,” Richards answered.

Blum questioned Richards as part of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.