Category: Opinion

Letter to the Editor – Kim Stephens

To the Editor:
When I am near water, my soul quiets. The sound, the feel of it lapping against my feet brings rejuvenation. I look for reasons to be near it, to play with my three sons in it, we even live on property with a creek running through it. But now I have more than 10,000 reasons to avoid it.
Animal confinements are ruining the quality of our water, closing beaches, and making it more expensive to drink. The people of Iowa, our children, are owed clean, safe waterways, something that can be accomplished with stricter rules against factory farm pollution and a moratorium on more confinements. When I am near water, I want my soul to be at rest, not anxious about what harms may be lurking unseen. Since the Iowa legislature won’t protect our rights, we had to file this lawsuit against the state. For this reason, I am proud to support Iowa CCI and FWW’s lawsuit against the State of Iowa to clean up our waterways.
Kim Stephens

Consumer Counselor – July 17, 2019

How to cut energy costs this summer
Summer is a season of rest and relaxation. Warm air and abundant sunshine often inspire a laid back feeling that lasts until the leaves begin to fall off the trees in early autumn. But summer also can be hard on homeowners, particularly in regard to their monthly energy bills.
As summer heats up, energy bills may rise right along with the mercury in the backyard thermometer. Warmer temperatures outside compel many people to rely more and more on their air conditioners, leading to a spike in energy bills. Fortunately, there are ways to lower summertime energy bills without sacrificing comfort on hot days and nights.
Upgrade your insulation. People who own their homes can conduct an inspection of their homes’ insulation to see if it can be upgraded. Direct Energy, which provides energy to more than four million home and business customers across North America, recommends sealing any drafts around windows or doors with weather stripping or spray foam. Sealing drafts can ensure cool air stays inside the home on hot days, potentially preventing homeowners from having to run their air conditioners on full blast to keep their homes cool.
Upgrade your thermostat. Homeowners who don’t already have a smart thermostat can install one to help lower their energy costs. The Alliance to Save Energy notes that such thermostats can help homeowners optimize their homes’ energy usage. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to control the climate in their homes remotely while also showing homeowners their energy consumption in real time. Smart thermostats can show homeowners just how long it takes to cool a home, allowing homeowners to keep their air conditioners off while no one is home but still ensuring the home is comfortable, and that no energy was needlessly wasted to make it so, when they arrive home at night.
Reconsider how you use your appliances. Bankrate.com notes that washing machines and dishwashers consume the same amount of water and energy whether these appliances are full or not. Wait to use washing machines and dishwashers until you have full loads. This provides more bang for your buck. In addition, hand-dry dishes and hang clothes on a backyard clothesline to save even more energy.
Energy costs tend to rise when summer hits full swing. But a few simple measures can help homeowners cut costs without sacrificing comfort.

Iowans Shouldn’t Have to Subsidize Big Credit Union’s Purchase of Taxpaying Bank

By Brad Lane, Chair-Elect, Iowa Bankers Association, and President & CEO, Security Savings Bank
This week, a large and profitable credit union in Iowa used its state and federal income tax exemption to buy a taxpaying bank. The customers and products will remain the same — what changes is the name on the building and the responsibility to pay income taxes.
The $1.5 trillion credit union industry expects taxpayers to subsidize their buildings in the highest income neighborhoods, their CEOs’ million-dollar compensation packages, and now their purchases of taxpaying competitors. The end result is that everybody else pays more so that the credit union can pay nothing.
And it does not stop with the purchase of banks. The largest credit unions are buying other formerly taxpaying entities, like insurance agencies and abstract companies. Taxpayers of Iowa need to stand up and say enough is enough. When the government manipulates the marketplace through tax policy — the result is the average Iowa household pays nearly $7,000 of income tax on $56,570 of income, and a credit union earning $75 million pays nothing.
Credit unions received the income tax exemption during the great depression as a way to help people of low and moderate means receive consumer loans. That idea has morphed into an Iowa credit union that is the largest and most profitable financial institution in the state making multimillion dollar commercial loans.
The Iowa Legislature considered this issue in 2018 and the Iowa Senate passed a bill that would have taxed the three largest credit unions. These three credit unions make up over half of the industry’s assets and account for more than 70 percent of the industry’s profits. It would not have impacted the other 81 credit unions in Iowa — many of which actually do try to fulfill their statutory mission of helping low- and moderate-income people make consumer purchases.
The bill was a reasonable solution to help provide a small degree of equity in Iowa’s tax code for those Iowans who shoulder the expense of funding state priorities like education, Medicaid and water quality. These large and profitable credit unions enjoy and take advantage of these quality-of-life priorities, but they don’t pay their fair share to help support them.
When the Iowa Legislature looks at tax policy next session, it should make sure the tax code is fair and equitable for all taxpayers. If everyone pays a little, than none have to pay too much and the tax code will work as intended. If the marketplace is allowed to work — consumers will decide who the winners and losers are rather than the government.

Consumer Counselor – July 10, 2019

Why you need a hammock or hanging chair
Sunny days and warm weather beckon us to the great outdoors. A day spent in the pool or lounging around the patio is a great way to embrace the relaxing spirit of summer. But those who want to go the extra relaxing miles should consider adding a hammock or swinging chair to their backyard oasis.
Hammocks and swinging chairs make great investments. Outdoor enthusiasts can take them on camping trips, and they’re equally at home right in the backyard. People on the fence about these symbols of relaxation can consider these benefits of hammocks or swinging chairs.
Nap comfortably outdoors. Who needs an excuse to catch up on missing sleep? If the time presents itself, the sun and the fresh air can induce a deep sense of relaxation. Lying on a hammock or floating in a hanging chair provides that additional soothing rocking motion that can make a cat nap even more enticing.
Use it indoors or outdoors. Create a retreat in any corner of your yard or home. A hanging chair can be hung in the corner of a bedroom to provide a spot to curl up with a good book or rock a baby to sleep. The same chair can be brought to a covered deck or patio so people can swing with the breeze when the weather allows.
Super stargazing retreat. Hammocks and swinging chairs can make it easier and more comfortable to stargaze at night. With a double hammock or chair, bring a romantic partner along to snuggle and watch the cosmos. Or teach children about the constellations in the night sky.
Be inconspicuous among nature. Lying on the ground disturbs the lawn and other outdoor components. Being suspended several inches above the ground in a chair or a hammock can help a person blend in with the natural environment. Birds, small animals and insects may not even know you’re there, and that can make them easier to observe. Everyone can appreciate the opportunity to sit back and relax.
Hammocks and swinging chairs can help a person feel lighter than air and recharge in the warm summer air.

Letter to the Editor – Louis Beck

To the Editor:
Thank you to all who support the Agricultural Education program and La Porte-Dysart FFA chapter by volunteering time, energy, and expertise; by supporting our educational and fund-raising activities, and by helping guide a program that continues to evolve just as agriculture does. I have witnessed your generosity toward our students for 21 years and look forward to supporting the chapter in my retirement.
An Agriculture Education/FFA program is an important option for high school students because it presents a unique learning experience that allows students to learn and practice skills that are valued by our society: leadership, building positive interpersonal and community relationships, and career development.
I have had the privilege to work with outstanding students, caring and interested parents, progressive communities, and supportive school administrative, teaching, and support staff. I will miss those connections and I hope that my service made a positive difference.
I know the Union Agriculture Education department and La Porte-Dysart FFA Chapter will continue to thrive and evolve under the leadership of Adam Sacquitne, the new agriculture education instructor and FFA advisor.
With my sincere thanks,
Louis Beck

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