Miller-Meeks: Democrats’ Tax-free Gasoline May Explain Their Refusal to Take Action to Help Working Families, Businesses

July 24, 2008

             CEDAR RAPIDS – Reports that the Democratic National Convention’s host committee and staff have avoided paying state and federal fuel taxes “could go a long way toward explaining why that party’s leadership has failed to approve an energy policy that lowers prices for hard-working families and hard-pressed businesses, GOP congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks said during a tour of the Clipper Windpower, a wind turbine manufacturer.


The practice of filling up at Denver city government pumps and avoiding the fuel taxes had been going on four months but the practice was ended hours after it was disclosed Tuesday. Democratic Mayor John Hickenlooper’s office said the Democrats would pay market prices for fuel going forward. Colorado’s attorney general said the practice appeared to be illegal and the matter was immediately referred to the state’s Department of Revenue.


“I agree with the Denver city councilwoman who said there’s something not right about that situation and that it means the officials who pass the laws are not willing to live by them,” Miller-Meeks said today.  “They clearly think the rules do not apply to them. That’s important to Iowans in the Second District because the incumbent, Dave Loebsack, has fallen right in with that crowd. ”


In Colorado, working families and businesses pay 40.4 cents per gallon in state and federal fuel taxes.  The tax-free gas the Democrats have pumped for themselves would save about $5.65 per 14-gallon tank.


“The rest of us would appreciate that kind of savings every time we have to go to the gas pump.  We could get there if we had a Congress that would encourage domestic oil exploration and really support alternative fuel sources,” Miller-Meeks said.  “Instead, we have a congressman whose solution to the energy crisis is to sponsor a tax break for people who ride their bicycles to work. Try doing that in rural Iowa in December. We need someone in Congress representing Iowa who is in touch with the realities of everyday life here.”


She added, “It’s time Dave Loebsack stood up for the things he told voters he believes in.  He said he was for ethical government.  He could start by rejecting his own party’s tax dodge. “


In addition to advocating for more oil drilling in the United States, including oil-rich northern Alaska, Miller-Meeks also supports the T. Boone Pickens’ strategy to significantly reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by creating more wind energy sources and then shifting U.S. natural gas supplies to fuel cars, trucks and other vehicles. The plan would reduce U.S. oil imports by nearly 40 percent within 10 years and save American consumers $300 billion a year at current fuel prices.


Noting the critical role that Clipper Windpower can play in a comprehensive energy strategy and America’s economic security, Miller-Meeks said, “We can either keep the current Congress that continues to feed voters empty election year rhetoric or we elect new people who offer real, lasting solutions.  We need to have more domestic drilling but that’s also a temporary solution with environmental consequences.  Pursuing clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, is essential to developing a lasting energy policy, which lowers prices, protects the environment, and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.”


Miller-Meeks said she would work in Congress for policies and laws that encourage a full range of alternative energy production in the Second District to create good-paying jobs for Iowans and reduce the amount paid for out-of-state and foreign energy.


“I have a plan and a focus,” Miller-Meeks said.  “I’ve been talking a comprehensive energy policy throughout this campaign. Mr. Loebsack doesn’t even have his stances on the issues on his website.  The residents of the Second District who are paying nearly four dollars for a gallon of gas and more than that for diesel deserve to know, ‘What is your plan, Mr. Loebsack?’”


Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa ophthalmologist and former University of Iowa faculty member, has more than 24 years of service in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve.  The Second Congressional District includes 15 counties: Appanoose, Cedar, Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Johnson, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Muscatine, Van Buren, Wapello, Washington and Wayne.


Smith: Four-Day Week for State Workers ‘Worth Closer Look’ if it Helps Families, Businesses in House District 95

July 23, 2008

OSCEOLA – Republican legislative candidate Doug Smith said today that Democratic Gov. Chet Culver’s consideration of a four-day work week in order to reduce state government’s energy costs is “worth a closer look.”


“I’m a Republican because we believe in effective, common-sense approaches to issues and challenges but I know my party doesn’t have a corner on the good ideas market.  A four-day work week may or may not be a solution yet it’s definitely worth a closer look,” Smith said. “Voters understood that the two parties have fundamental differences on many issues.  At the same time, they expect us to work together whenever possible to get things done.  When it comes to energy efficiency and other ideas that would save taxpayer dollars I’ll work with Democrats and Republicans to produce results.”

Following the lead of some private companies, Utah state officials have announced that starting next month most employees will work 10-hour shifts Mondays through Thursday.  Culver said Friday that he believes that current economic conditions, including high energy prices, will prompt all state governments to consider a four-day work week.  While the goal is to reduce fuel expenses for employees, the approach also would reduce heating and cooling costs at state buildings. 


            “I know my responsibility as a state representative would be to look out for the best interests of families and businesses in Clarke, Union and Decatur counties.  Before we shift government to a four-day week, I want to ensure that taxpayers will receive efficient, effective services from state government,” Smith said.  “One way to help them is for me to be an active voice in a state government that takes real responsibility for energy efficiency so we can hold down fuel costs and taxes.”


            Smith, an Osecola restaurant owner, is making his first bid for public office in House District 95.

Miller-Meeks: With Flooded Iowans Awaiting Help, Congressional Recess is an ‘Outrage’

July 23, 2008

OTTUMWA – Senate Democratic leaders’ decision to go on recess and delay action on flood relief legislation for Iowa and other Midwest states until at least September reflects “an outrageous lack of leadership and caring,” congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks said today.


Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa Republican, said incumbent David Loebsack’s willingness to quietly accept such inaction while thousands of Iowans struggle to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of devastating floods is “further proof that his ‘follow-the-leader’ mindset is hurting Iowa’s Second Congressional District.”


“Dave Loebsack’s appearances in Iowa’s hard-hit communities will amount to nothing but grandstanding if the leadership he follows so diligently decides to wait until September to help the families and businesses that have lost so much or, in many cases, everything,” Miller-Meeks said.  “Where is his outrage? Where is his leadership?”


She continued, “Congressional Democrats fell all over themselves to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina – and they should have.  Next to providing a strong national defense, the federal government’s most important role is to help people who have lost everything in natural disasters,” Miller-Meeks said. “For Congress to even consider coming home to campaign after 25,000 residents of Cedar Rapids, the people of Iowa City, Columbus Junction and so many other communities have been displaced from their homes and businesses after the biggest natural disaster in this state’s history is down right shameful.  Are Iowans no less deserving of prompt and effective natural disaster assistance?


Robert Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee said Tuesday that his committee and the full Senate would not have enough time to consider an emergency spending bill before starting its next recess in early August. While Congress has initially approved $2.65 billion in flood relief for Iowa, Governor Chet Culver has argued more than $1 billion in additional relief is needed.


“This is the time when we need someone in Congress who will go toe-to-toe with the leadership to get things done for Iowans who need their government to work for them more than ever before,” Miller-Meeks said.  “The last thing we need is ‘Follow-the-Leader Loebsack’ who is missing in action when we need him most.”


Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa ophthalmologist and former University of Iowa faculty member, has more than 24 years of service in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve.  The Second Congressional District includes 15 counties: Appanoose, Cedar, Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Johnson, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Muscatine, Van Buren, Wapello, Washington and Wayne.


Amanda Jane’s “Me Anonymous” and “Sold for Free” debut this Friday and Sunday on KUNI Radio!

July 15, 2008


Two songs from Amanda Jane’s forthcoming CD, “Me Anonymous” will debut this weekend on the KUNI Radio program, “Down on the Corner.”


The title track, “Me, Anonymous”, will air for the first time during the 9:00 p.m., Friday, July 18 broadcast .  The show, hosted by Bob Dorr, will air again at 2:00 a.m., Saturday, July 19, and midnight, Wednesday, July 23.


A second single, “Sold for Free” will air on KUNI’s “Sunday Night Music” at approximately 9:50 p.m., July 20.


More airplay is likely on “Down on the Corner” in the weeks ahead. Playlists are available at  Just click on Programs, enter Down on the Corner and searchable playlists will appear.


KUNI is at 101.7 on the FM dial in central Iowa and 90.9 in the FM dial in northeast Iowa.  The station also broadcasts on the Internet. Just go to and click on the “On Air” button on the left side of the home page and click on the KUNI Live link.


Tune in to “Me Anonymous” and “Sold for Free” and help Amanda Jane celebrate her radio debut!

Miller-Meeks: Loebsack Tax Break for Bike Riders Proves He’s Out of Touch with Iowans’ Real Needs

July 15, 2008

               OTTUMWA – Legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Dave Loebsack to give a tax break to people who ride bicycles to work while blocking oil exploration in Alaska proves again that he is not tackling the big issues facing Iowa families and small business, Second Congressional District candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks said today.


“It’s nice that he wants to encourage people to ride their bikes and use less gasoline.  At least, that appears to be the incumbent’s motivation, but good intentions aren’t enough,” Miller-Meeks said.  “The fact is, most people in this district can’t ride bicycles to work or the price of gasoline is motivation enough.  They don’t need their congressman tying up all his time to create a bicycle reimbursement tax.  The market is working; we need someone in Congress working to develop a comprehensive, practical energy policy.”


She added, “Dave Loebsack thinks the answer is to tinker around at the margins of our tax code and offer little symbolic gestures.  I believe, as most Iowans do, that we need Congress to fix our broken tax system and finally get serious about energy production.    Dave Loebsack has done exactly what Nancy Pelosi tells him to do, including standing in the way of more drilling so we can get at the oil America has available.  I stand with the people who say, ‘Drill here. Drill now.”


Loebsack co-sponsored House Resolution 1498, which amends the Internal Revenue Code to include a bicycle commuting allowance as a qualified transportation fringe benefit, excludable from gross income. He also co-sponsored H.R. 39 last year “to preserve the Arctic coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, as wilderness in recognition of its extraordinary natural ecosystems and for the permanent good of present and future generations of Americans.”


“The resolution is just a fancy way to say the Democrats insist on keeping more than 1.5 million acres of oil-rich frozen tundra off limits to the American people as they struggle with soaring fuel prices while we’re at the whim of unstable and hostile counties,” Miller-Meeks said. “I’ll  vote to do what’s best for the American people.  I’ll vote to encourage more domestic and off-shore oil exploration in addition to renewable sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas, oil from coal and oil from algae, soy, and animal fat.”


Miller-Meeks has also announced for Texas oil executive T. Boone Pickens’ pro-active, practical strategy to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by creating more wind energy sources and then shifting U.S. natural gas supplies to fuel cars, trucks and other vehicles. The plan would reduce U.S. oil imports by nearly 40 percent within 10 years and save American consumers $300 billion a year at current fuel prices.  Developing an energy  infrastructure for the Second District can bolster our economy, protect our environment and  enhance our national security.


Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa ophthalmologist and former University of Iowa faculty member, has more than 24 years of service in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve.  The Second Congressional District includes 15 counties: Appanoose, Cedar, Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Johnson, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Muscatine, Van Buren, Wapello, Washington and Wayne.


I Love 801 Steak & Chop, Can’t Stand Cigar, Cigarette Smoke; New Smoking Ban Makes Me Breathe Easy

July 8, 2008

You’ll have to look high and low, long and hard to find someone as happy as I am about Iowa’s new public smoking ban, which went into effect July 1.

On the other hand, I’m a very big fan of the 801 Steak and Chop House.  It’s located on the second floor in Iowa’s tallest building, 801 Grand in downtown Des Moines, and everything on the menu is exceptional.

It’s especially popular during the height of our first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses and members of the national press corps take the local political pros to 801 to wine and dine us.  I’ve just never been a big fan of cigar and cigarette smoke – there or anywhere else. In fact, I hate it!

Those sentiments were noted today in The Des Moines Register’s Business Buzz by Dave Elbert.  (I happen to be a big fan of Elbert, too.) The smoke from 801’s final night before the smoking ban went into effect was so thick it actually encroached on a neighboring business, the Bening Financial Group.

Here’s the link to today’s Business Buzz:

Today’s a perfect day to write a check to your local American Cancer Society chapter. If you’re an Iowan, it would be a wonderful thank you gift from your lungs to the people who played a huge role in making the smoking ban happen. The address, so you won’t have the excuse that you didn’t have time to look for it, is 8364 Hickman Road, Suite D, Des Moines, IA  50325.

Smith: Iowans in Military Live Up to Their Responsibility, I’ll do the Same for Them in Legislature

July 3, 2008


OSCEOLA – House District 95 Republican candidate Doug Smith today said he would support legislation in the 2009 Iowa General Assembly to ease the financial burden on Iowa military personnel who are in harm’s way to defend America’s freedom.


            “There’s an old saying that freedom isn’t free. Our fellow Iowans in the military should not be expected to bear more than their fair share of the cost,” Smith said.  “I recognize and honor our military personnel on the Fourth of July, as do almost all Americans.  But, it’s time we have a legislator who will remember our friends, neighbors and family members in the military on January 12, 2009 when the Legislature begins its next session.”


Smith said the global war against terrorism has resulted in extended military tours of duty for Iowa Guard and Reserve units and active duty personnel that were virtually unimagined in past conflicts.  “There are Iowans who have done two, three and even four tours of duty in war zones.  That’s taken a great toll on their financial security,” Smith said.


He said he would increase the amount of the veterans’ property tax exemption and vote for the necessary appropriations to fully fund it.


Smith said he also would:


  • Exclude all military income received by Iowans in the National Guard, Reserve or U.S. armed forces from state income taxes while on federal active duty;
  • Limit the higher education costs for veterans at Iowa’s three state universities and community colleges for veterans;
  • Exclude from Iowa’s income taxes any military retired pay that is received by a veteran for service-connected disabilities;
  • Fund higher education at an Iowa community college or public university for the dependent children of veterans with a 100-percent service-related disability.


“Iowans in the military have more than lived up to their responsibilities. They’ve made huge personal sacrifices to defend our freedom and, often, they’ve paid their price with their own blood and even their lives,” Smith said.  “The Iowa Legislature should live up to its responsibility.  I’ll do that if elected.”


House District 95 includes Clarke, Union and Decatur counties.