Ticker: June 26, 2009
President Barack Obama prodded lawmakers to approve a “historic” bill to limit greenhouse-gas emissions as part of intensifying lobbying efforts for a vote in the U.S. House that could come today, Bloomberg reported. Obama yesterday promoted the bill in a brief public statement outside the Oval Office and, in a private session at the White House, pressed undecided Democratic House members to back it. He also made calls to lawmakers. Republicans and some business groups worked to drum up opposition to the 1,200-page legislation, which they labeled a “national energy tax.” Critics of the measure, including billionaire investor Warren Buffett of Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which owns MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., say the plan would increase the price of energy.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined seven other states’ attorneys general yesterday in sending a joint letter to the general counsel of FedEx Corp., expressing concerns regarding the employment classification of FedEx Ground drivers. Misclassifying employees as contract employees can short states of funding derived from unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation premiums as well as deny those workers their rights under those programs. According to a press release from the Teamsters union, 30 states are investigating FedEx Ground to determine if the company is misclassifying workers as independent contractors through its owner-operator model. Also, more than 45 class-action lawsuits have been filed against the company in state and federal courts regarding alleged misclassification, the Teamsters said.
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The Funding Collaborative of Central Iowa Works has awarded a total of $228,500 to six Greater Des Moines organizations, the Greater Des Moines Partnership announced this morning. The collaborative’s strategic priorities are focused on improving the job skills for disadvantaged workers in five key sectors: health care, advanced manufacturing, construction, financial services and information technology. Grants approved were Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa, $75,000; Des Moines Area Community College, $75,000; Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, $3,500; First Unitarian Church, $25,000; Drake University $25,000; ISED/AMOS $25,000. Two additional proposals are still under consideration. The Central Iowa Works Funding Collaborative intends to issue the next request for proposals in the fall.
U.S. personal incomes jumped 1.4 percent in May due to one-time stimulus checks, sending the savings rate to a 15-year high, Commerce Department officials said Friday. Incomes were boosted by one-time $250 checks sent to about 50 million Social Security beneficiaries as part of the Obama stimulus program, MarketWatch reported. Excluding the one-time payments, disposable incomes rose 0.2 percent, the government said. Real disposable incomes (after taxes and inflation-adjusted) rose 1.6 percent. With the boost to incomes, the savings rate rose to 6.9 percent, the highest in 15 years. The savings rate got as low as 0 percent in April 2008.
This weekend’s Des Moines Arts Festival will for the first time offer free bicycle valet parking, provided by Friends of Central Iowa Trails. A bike corral will be located on the festival site at the corner of 15th Street and Grand Avenue next to Blues on Grand. Also new this year is a car valet service. Bypass finding a parking spot by valet parking your car at 13th and Walnut streets for $10 per car. Free parking will be available at two Nationwide/Allied Insurance ramps at 12th and Mulberry streets and and 12th and Cherry streets. Additional free parking will be available in the city lot located at Southwest 11th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway during festival hours. A shuttle service will run every 10 to 15 minutes from the Seventh and Center Street Park & Ride ramp. The cost of the shuttle is 50 cents each way, and children 5 and younger ride free. Complete driving directions and maps are available for download at at www.desmoinesartsfestival.org/gettingthere