Category: Opinion

Letter to the Editor – John Clayton

To the Editor:
A week ago, the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement group was in Washington, D.C. talking about the farm crisis. The transformation of hog production from family farms to corporate controlled factory farms was driven by manipulation of markets by big corporations. That same thing is now happening to cattle farmers.
Right now, family farmers are paid below cost of production. And, cattle farmers are losing money.
One way to help cattle farmers is by creating country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) for beef production. Right now, USDA allows foreign-grown beef to be imported and repackaged in USA and be labeled a product of USA.
Consumers and cattle farmers alike are in favor of COOL. So why aren’t Iowa’s representatives introducing or signing onto COOL legislation? They have numerous excuses.
The truth is all of Iowa’s Congressional Delegation equally refuse to introduce or sign onto COOL legislation. Instead they are choosing to listen to the corporate interests like JBS and Smithfield.
COOL is a common-sense policy for consumers and cattle producers. And, COOL can be passed by Congress, if they can find the political will.
John Clayton

Consumer Counselor – November 6, 2019

Deductions and donations: What donors should know
Giving to charity is a selfless act that’s worthy of recognition. That recognition can come in many forms, and donors should know that even the “tax man” likes to reward men and women who donate to charity. Both the United States and Canada reward donors with tax credits.
The financial services firm H&R Block notes that, in the United States, taxpayers can deduct donations made to qualified charities. Such deductions must be itemized, but they can greatly reduce a person’s taxable income. Laws regarding donations and tax deductions can be difficult to understand, so donors should always discuss their donations with their financial planners or tax preparers before filing their returns. The following is some general information regarding donations and deductions that can be useful to prospective donors.
Are all donations deductible? H&R Block notes that, in the United States, donations must go to one of three types of groups in order to qualify for deductions. Donations made to nonprofit religious groups, nonprofit educational groups and nonprofit charitable groups, which are often referred to as 501(c)(3) organizations, may qualify for deductions.
Does a donation have to be money in order for it to be deducted? Non-cash donations are eligible for deductions in both Canada and the United States.
Do I need to get anything from the organization I donate to? In most instances in the United States, H&R Block notes that charitable organizations must provide donors with certain information in order for donations to be deducted. A receipt that indicates the organization’s name and address and the date and location of the donation must be submitted. In addition, the amount of the donation when donating cash or, in the case of non-cash donations, a reasonably detailed description of the items donated.
Donating to charity is a selfless endeavor that may lead to rewards when donors file their tax returns.

ViewPoint: Cost of wind projects continues steady decline

By Cody Smith, Center for Rural Affairs
The U.S. wind industry is booming—expanding from 1.5 gigawatts of cumulative installed capacity in 1998 to 96.4 gigawatts of installed capacity in 2018.
At the same time, the cost of these projects continues to go down. According to the newly-released 2018 Wind Market Technologies Report from the U.S. Department of Energy, the average cost of constructing a wind energy project in 1983 was $4,478 per kilowatt hour. In 2018, the cost dropped to just $1,468 per kilowatt hour.
This stunning $3,010 decrease per kilowatt hour is indicative of the growth of the industry as the U.S. transitions to a clean energy economy.
Looking ahead, the country is poised to add more than 68 additional gigawatts of wind power capacity. This growth is necessary as the U.S. looks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the U.S. ranks 16th for installed wind power capacity, with 6.5 percent of U.S. power coming from renewable wind energy.
As this growth continues to compound and prices of production keep falling, our communities have an opportunity to continue realizing the benefits of wind energy. Tax revenue generation and job creation bring new opportunities to rural America. Last year, wind projects generated approximately $761 million in total tax payments to state and local governments. Meanwhile, the industry supports 140 turbine and component manufacturing facilities nationwide.
As market forces continue to favor renewable energy over fossil fuels, rural America has an opportunity to stake its claim in a clean energy economy.

Consumer Counselor – October 23, 2019

How to organize shopping receipts
The season of giving has arrived and with it comes frequent trips to stores and more time spent shopping online in the name of finding those perfect gifts for friends and family. With purchases come receipts, and it can be easy to lose track of receipts as the holiday season hits full swing. While keeping track of receipts is important for small business owners and entrepreneurs, it’s equally essential for anyone trying to maintain and keep a budget.
Receipts are also key around the holidays because they help facilitate the return or exchange of gifts that may not be the right fit. There are various ways to organize receipts, says the financial resource Tough Nickel, and some methods depend on the person doing the shopping. Here are some ways to conquer receipt clutter.
Say “Yes” when asked “Receipt in the bag?” When making purchases, have the receipt placed in the bag. This makes it easier to match purchases and receipts and decreases the chances that the receipt will vanish at the bottom of purses or pockets.
Attach the receipt to the item. Consider taping or using a paper clip to attach a receipt to the price tag when buying personal items. This way if you choose to return the item, the receipt is right there.
Opt for gift receipts. Gift receipts are handy to have for gifted items. While everyone likes to believe they’ve found the perfect gift, presents may need to be returned. Ensure the recipient can get the full purchase price with the gift receipt. You can keep the original copy as backup if needed.
Use a coupon organizer. Coupon organizer pouches and envelopes can be divided by gift recipients, retailers or however you see fit.
Scan and save. Various apps and software enable you to transition hard copy receipts to digital files. Some may further categorize purchases so shoppers can keep track of their spending habits more easily.
Discard old receipts. There is no point in keeping receipts after the return or exchange period has ended. One notable exception is purchases that will count for tax deductions, such as charitable donations.
Hold onto proof of purchase. In many instances, warranties or product registrations require a copy of the receipt and the UPC on the product. Store receipts for big-ticket items with the user manuals or other essential packaging for this purpose.
Getting a handle on receipts can make for a smooth season of giving.

ViewPoint: BHC Health Dept. observes National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Oct. 23-26

The Black Hawk County Health Department is pleased to recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 20-26, 2019. The Health Department will host and participate in outreach and educational activities designed to raise local awareness about the danger of lead exposure and poisoning and educate parents on how to reduce exposure to lead in their environment, prevent its serious health effects, and learn about the importance of testing children for lead.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to encourage organized, local community events, and to empower families and other stakeholders to take action. Black Hawk County Health Department Healthy Homes Coordinator, Andrea Magee says, “Lead prevention and abatement are so important to our county because of the number of homes built prior to 1978. We intend to increase awareness this week which we hope will carry through the rest of the year so residents know the importance of testing for and repairing the hazards of lead based paint.”
About 3.6 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. According to the CDC, about 500,000 American children between ages of 1 and 5 years have blood lead levels greater than or equal to the level of blood reference value, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions.
Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. However, the most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or eating paint chips or soil that contain lead.
Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies, and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint. Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. These disparities unduly burden minority families and low-income families and their communities.
The problem is largely preventable with increased testing and education. Follow the Black Hawk County Health Department’s Facebook and Twitter pages for informational links, videos and printable posters you can use to help spread the word and encourage more testing and education.
For more information on National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2019, please visit http://www.co.black-hawk.ia.us/264/Childhood-Lead-Poisoning-Prevention-Prog

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