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Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 1/13/2017
First Blizzard of 2017,
This busy legislative week brought key issues to the floor of the House of Representatives for debate. On Tuesday, I introduced a bipartisan bill to return management of gray wolves back to the states with 14 of my colleagues and sponsored new legislation to delay emission regulations for wood heaters on Wednesday. I was the lead Democrat on a bipartisan bill to reduce the regulatory burden on our farmers, ranchers and businesses and led a successful amendment to prevent agencies like the EPA from using the public comment period to push their own regulatory agendas like they did with the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule. I will continue to support these efforts in the 115th Congress.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
USDA Chief Economist
On Wednesday, I met with the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Chief Economist, Dr. Robert Johansson, who is a native Minnesotan. We discussed the state of the farm economy, the effects of commodity programs and crop insurance on our trade obligations, and preparations for the next farm bill. I'm glad to have someone with Dr. Johansson's background and understanding of Minnesota agriculture in such an important role at USDA.
Minnesota Hospital Association
Lorry Massa (President and CEO, Minnesota Hospital Association) and Ben Peltier (Vice President, Legal Services and Federal Relations)
Representatives of the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) visited my office this week to provide their perspective on opportunities and challenges facing Minnesota’s hospitals. According to MHA data, approximately one-third of the state’s hospitals are located in the 7th District, including more than half of its critical access hospitals. I intend to work closely with these facilities in the new Congress to improve care and support rural health systems.
CentraCare Long Prairie
On Monday, CentraCare Long Prairie hosted my staff aide Jacki Anderson for a tour of their new project site. CentraCare shared information about projects currently under construction and projects in discovery phase. Mortenson Construction representatives led a tour of the new medical campus construction site. The vision, investment and commitment from the community and CentraCare to make this project happen are exceptional. The new CentraCare Health – Long Prairie medical campus will replace the existing 60-year old facility and is scheduled to open in late fall 2017.
This week Jen Jabas, Executive Director at United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties, visited my Washington office to discuss United Way initiatives. The United Way is working with local officials in Alexandria to secure and expand daycare services in the area and working with other non-profits to help find affordable housing. United Way also partners with other local agencies to coordinate Community Impact Programs. Last year the United Way provided 3500 bags of food to hungry students in Douglas and Pope Counties.
If you would like to volunteer with your local United Way please visit: www.uwdp.org/volunteer
Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 5)
On Wednesday, the House passed the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 including an amendment to the bill I authored. This amendment will prohibit federal agencies from using taxpayer dollars to advocate on behalf of a rule or generate comments to overwhelm the record with one point of view. I offered the amendment to ensure that the comment period serves as a time for agencies to hear from the public about what’s good, what’s bad or what needs to be fixed. The EPA violated this principle when they tried to fill the record with positive comments during the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rulemaking. This amendment will make sure that this doesn’t happen again. You can read my statement to the House floor in my press release.
Commodity End-User Relief Act (H.R. 238)
The House on Thursday voted on H.R. 238, the Commodity End-User Relief Act, to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The Agriculture Committee has oversight of the CFTC and I voted against the bill because it rolls back important financial regulations and interferes with the CFTC’s ability to provide oversight by capping its budget for the next five years. I support a simple reauthorization but believe H.R. 238 went too far. Additionally, I was disappointed that the Agriculture Committee did not get the opportunity to consider the legislation and the bill was rushed to the House floor without regular order. You can read more about this bill here.
Delisting Gray Wolves (H.R. 424)
On Tuesday, I introduced a bill with the support of 14 bipartisan members of Congress that would delist gray wolves from federal Endangered Species Act protections in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Wyoming. This was the original intent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). You can find the press release here and monitor the bill’s status here.
In 2011, USFWS conducted a population survey to estimate the number of gray wolves living in the Great Lakes states. Having determined that gray wolf numbers have adequately recovered, the agency decided to delist gray wolves based on sound science. This allowed states to administer population management plans and USFWS to focus recovery efforts on other endangered species. Wyoming went through a similar situation.
Unfortunately, a federal judge unilaterally reversed decisions made by USFWS, leaving our farmers and ranchers without a legal avenue to deal with problem wolves.
Wood Heaters Bill (H.R. 453)
On Wednesday, I sponsored a bill with Congressman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and six other members of Congress to delay certain emissions standards for new residential wood and pellet stoves. The press release can be found here and the bill can be tracked here.
The legislation follows a March 2015 EPA rule requiring a significant reduction of particulate matter in wood heater emissions through a two-step process. While there is broad support for the first step, the second step forces further restrictions within an unworkable timeframe. Delaying this second requirement to May 15, 2023 will provide manufacturers the time needed to make the technological advancements in new, efficient wood stoves.
Budget Resolution (S.Con.Res 3)
Today, I voted against the budget resolution because it lays out a path to completely repeal the health care law without a means to ensure those currently receiving coverage will continue to be covered. I also voted against the Democratic substitute that would keep the law in place in its current form. I believe our health care system needs to be, and can be, improved to reduce costs for Minnesotans but this approach is not the way to do that. Since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) I have repeatedly expressed my willingness to work with members of both parties to address the areas we all agree need to be fixed while remaining committed to ensuring that some of the good parts of the law like those that protect people with pre-existing conditions, are preserved. As I did when casting my vote against the ACA in 2009, I will fully review any replacement bill and vote for what is best for Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District.
$34 Million for 42 Broadband Projects across Greater Minnesota
The state of Minnesota and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced on Wednesday grants totaling $34 million for 42 broadband infrastructure projects that will provide 16,627 households, 2,240 businesses, and 71 community institutions across Minnesota access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet. The new state funding will help level the playing field for households and businesses in greater Minnesota by providing them access to the same opportunities available to urban area residents. To learn more, visit their website.
Law Enforcement Appreciation Day
Monday was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day throughout Minnesota in honor of the brave women and men who put their lives on the line to protect our state. I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to the more than 10,000 law enforcement officials in Minnesota for the life-saving work they do every day.
This Week in American History
On January 11, 1909, Canada and the United States signed the Boundary Waters Treaty, officially creating the International Joint Commission (IJC). The commission serves as a mutual legislative body aiming to prevent and settle disputes in the boundary waters region and pursues the common good of both countries as an independent and objective advisor to the two governments. Since its creation, The IJC has established more than 20 boards and task forces to help meet its responsibilities along the Canada-U.S. boundary.
Spotted in the Seventh
Can YOU guess what was Spotted in the Seventh? Each week, the newsletter will feature a landmark or site somewhere in Western Minnesota. The first person to name the location wins! The location of the photo as well as the winner will be revealed in the next newsletter.
This week’s landmark is a namesake for its home county, made entirely of scrap metal…
Congratulations to Sharon Bring of Strandquist for being the first to correctly identify our last location as the Marshall County Courthouse in Warren!
Share your guess on our website – http://collinpeterson.house.gov/contact-me/spotted-seventh
Maija Hecht (BAGLEY)