Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/8/2019

March 11, 2019

Talking with veterans in Willmar

Dear Friends,

This week, the House considered legislation which included numerous provisions that protect your right to vote. I believe there is too much money in politics and I would like to limit the role of national political parties that put gamesmanship over good governance. That is one reason I continue to hold town hall meetings so I can hear directly from you. Last weekend, I heard from constituents in Detroit Lakes, Montevideo, Hutchinson and Willmar about veterans issues. Your calls and letters are important. After a call from a constituent in Montevideo, I recently led a successful effort to get the IRS to delay the tax filing deadline for farmers and ranchers. I also heard from Minnesota advocates resulting in the reintroduction of a bipartisan bill to ensure patients with congenital anomalies and birth defects are covered by their insurance. This bipartisan legislation will help these individuals afford costly reconstructive treatments for a range of conditions including cleft lip or palate, skeletal deformities, and dental defects. We added another six Members of Congress as cosponsors this week.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Serving the 7th

Letter to EPA on Wood Heaters

I have been advocating on behalf of several wood heater manufacturers in my district from places like Greenbush, Warroad, and Red Lake Falls to find relief from overly burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. I am currently leading a Congressional letter to the EPA asking the agency to provide flexibility so our manufacturers can continue to develop models that fit the needs of their customers across the Midwest.

Letter to Education Secretary DeVos on Argosy University Closures

After hearing about students who were impacted by the unexpected closure of the Argosy University in Eagan, I joined Senator Klobuchar and other members of the Minnesota delegation on a letter that calls on the Department of Education to proactively inform all impacted students of the resources available to them. Over 1,000 Minnesota students attend the Eagan campus, and many will be left with incomplete degrees and withheld federal financial aid. If you, or a student you know, is affected by this sudden closure please reach out to my staff at (202) 225-2165 or

Detroit Lakes Veterans Town Hall

(Top Right) Ed Gehrke
(Bottom) Joe Vene - Beltrami County Veterans Liaison, Lauri Brooke - Becker County Veterans Service Officer, Scotty Allison - Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer

On Saturday, I hosted a town hall meeting focused on veterans’ issues at the Detroit Lakes City Hall. Veterans from many counties in the area came to update me with their ideas and concerns related to the VA, prescription drugs, and honor guards at funerals.

Click here to read a news story about the town hall.

Meeting with Veterans in Willmar and Hutchinson

This week, I met with groups of veterans in Hutchinson, Montevideo, and Willmar to discuss modernization of the VA’s claims and appeals processes, VA health care eligibility requirements and the Montevideo veterans home project. As a returning member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I will be looking to address these issues as legislation is written in the committee.

Chairman’s Corner

Renville County Commissioner Bob Fox // Dan Perkins (LOWRY), Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-US Virgin Islands), Dean Meichsner (MORRIS)

Midwest Dairy with Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

This week, Renville County Commissioner Bob Fox, representatives of the Barnes-Aastad Soil and Water Conservation Research Association, and a group of dairy industry leaders with Midwest Dairy visited my office in Washington, D.C. Commissioner Fox stressed the need for federal transportation funding to repair and upgrade roads and bridges across the state. We also discussed efforts to ensure the success of rural hospitals so our rural communities are within reach of critical health care services. Barnes-Aastad shared the progress of their research on soil health and shared what resources they need to continue their great work. Midwest Dairy met with Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa and me to talk about the needs of the dairy industry. Topics included the timeline for implementing the dairy provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill, labor shortages in agriculture, and the status of trade negotiations with Canada and Mexico.

National Association of Towns and Townships Board Member Jim Fisher // University of Minnesota (UMN) Extension Director of Agricultural Stakeholder Outreach Tom Rothman, Extension Citizens’ Advisory Committee Member David Benson, staff aides Kellie Adesina and Cody Hollerich, UMN Extension Dean Beverly Durgan and UMN Extension Chief of Staff Sarah Greening

National Sunflower Association (NSA) President Kevin Capistran (CROOKSTON), Clark Coleman (Bismarck, ND), NSA Vice President Lance Hourigan (Lemmon, SD), NSA Executive Director John Sandbakken (Bismark, ND), Dale Thorenson

The Tri-Societies (The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America)

My office met with agriculture groups this week to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill, appropriations for fiscal year 2020, and issues facing the sunflower industry. National Association of Towns and Townships Board Member Jim Fisher spoke about initiatives to map variations in internet speeds across Minnesota and the general need for infrastructure funding to maintain township roads. The 2018 Farm Bill authorized $350 million for rural broadband deployment, and accurate mapping plays a vital role in determining the areas that are most in need. Dr. Trevor Ames and Dr. Cathy Carlson with the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine provided an update on their goal to develop a more efficient test for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and to offer their support to programs that make veterinary education more affordable, especially for those who plan to serve in rural areas. University of Minnesota Extension and the Tri-Societies visited to share an update on their research and to advocate for strong funding of USDA research programs and land-grant universities in fiscal year 2020. Leaders of the National Sunflower Association were proud to talk about last year’s record yields and the research USDA is doing to make this year’s crop even better.

Students United

I visited with leaders from Students United, an advocacy organization comprised of future, current, and former Minnesota students. Representing schools in Bemidji, Moorhead, and Marshall, I was proud to see 7th districts students taking an active role in shaping their education. Our students face many barriers when pursuing an affordable college education, and I look forward to receiving an update on their progress soon.

Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars

The Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) visited Washington in conjunction with the national veterans service organization’s legislative presentation in front of the Senate and House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs. My Staff Aide Zach Martin and members of the Minnesota VFW talked about the veterans home project proposals in Bemidji and Montevideo, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, veterans’ health care, and other topics.

Minnesota National Guard

Colonel Tim Kemp, Major General Jon Jensen, Lt. Colonel Brian C. Winter

The dedicated soldiers and airmen of the Minnesota National Guard provide essential assistance during disasters and other state emergencies, and can be called into federal active service in times of war. A week ago, fifty soldiers who are part of the 347th Regional Support Group returned home after serving a 9-month deployment. Major General Jon Jensen, Colonel Tim Kemp, and Lt. Colonel Brian Winter visited Washington to provide updates on current deployments and an overview of the Guard’s full time staff force structure.

340B Health

Steven Miller (340B Health, Washington, D.C.), Duane Wallace (Sanford PERHAM Health), Herb Bromenshenkel (Sanford BEMIDJI Medical Center), Rebekah Solem, Mary Foy (Avera MARSHALL Regional Medical Center), Brian Lundberg (Essentia Health, Duluth)

My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with advocates from 340B Health to talk about the 340B drug pricing program. The group shared stories about how they use savings from this program to help patients across the district get the medicines they need. These representatives thanked me for my support of the 340B program. I will continue to support measures which will help improve access to affordable health care in rural Minnesota.

TSC Advocates

Kari Ihle, Alanna Spotts, Rebekah Solem, Judy Shoulak, Jake Shoulak, Joseph Shoulak

On Wednesday, my staff met with volunteers from Minnesota who were on Capitol Hill to advocate for research on tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). The advocates shared their stories of how this terrible disease has impacted their families and discussed the TSC Research Program. This program awards competitive grants to research proposals to try and better understand TSC. As a member of the Congressional Rare Disease Caucus, I have supported efforts to fund important research on this disease.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Debbie Evans, Shelley Page, Lija Greenseid, Rebekah Solem, Ann Nerland, Camille Nash

My staff met with Minnesota advocates for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) on Wednesday. The group talked about their shared goal of eradicating type 1 diabetes and talked about the Special Diabetes Program and other research and funding opportunities in Congress. In Minnesota, there are approximately 308,000 people living with diabetes with direct and indirect costs of the disease amounting to more than $5 billion. I will continue to do what I can to support the efforts of these advocates.

American Medical Association

Andrew Williams (Bloomington), Akshay Patke (Shoreview), Apoorva Iyengar (Maple Grove)

Minnesota student advocates for the American Medical Association visited my Washington office to talk about issues important to medical students. The group talked about physician shortages caused in part by a cap in the number of residency positions paid for by Medicare. The medical students also talked about the need to make generic medications available so that prescription drugs can be more affordable for patients, as well as the importance of research. I wish these students all the best in their studies and in their future careers as physicians.

SHAPE America

Members of SHAPE America, the Society of Health and Physical Educators, visited Washington this week to talk about the importance of physical and health education in schools. Too often these programs are cut when schools face budgetary issues. I look forward to helping keep our kids active and healthy by supporting health and physical education programs.

Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund of Minnesota

Members of the Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund shared important updates on the water restoration projects currently underway in Minnesota. Minnesota’s lakes and waterways are a key economic generator for tourism, industry, and commerce..

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts met with my staff on Tuesday to support funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in fiscal year 2020. I have supported robust funding for NEA during my time in Congress and I will continue to advocate for them as we prepare the national budget for the coming year.

Minnesota Humanities Center

Representatives of the Minnesota Humanities Center met with my staff to request support for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in fiscal year 2020. I have supported funding NEH during my time in the House and I will continue to support them this budget season. The Minnesota Humanities Center uses their funding to draw attention to a range of social issues affecting veterans, Native Americans, and the environment through their Minnesota initiatives - We are Water, Veterans Voices, and Native Nations of Minnesota.

Motorcycle Riders Foundation

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation came by to highlight the continuing challenges motorcycle riders face. That’s why I was proud to cosponsor H. Res 318 last Congress, which encouraged collaboration with the motorcycle community and law enforcement to engage in efforts to end motorcycle profiling. I look forward to its reintroduction in the 116th Congress.

Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership & the Minnesota Council on Foundations

The decennial census is a constitutional responsibility and directs over 25 billion dollars in federal financial assistance to rural communities. To ensure a complete and accurate count, dozens of Minnesota businesses, local and county governments, and community organizations will come together to spread awareness leading up to April 1, 2020. To learn more or get involved, visit Minnesota State Demographer’s website.

Virtual Dementia Tour

My staff participated in a Virtual Dementia Tour at the Northwest Regional Development Commission this week. The program allows those without dementia to experience the reality of having the disease. Expanding the understanding of dementia is important as more and more people with dementia live in their homes and communities longer. It is also important that caregivers, law enforcement, emergency services and businesses know how to live along those who have dementia.

Winter in Minnesota

This week in the State of Hockey, the Roseau and Brainerd 6th-8th grade girls teams faced off in their quarter final playoff in Crookston. One of my staff members was there to congratulate the team from Roseau after an impressive seventh period, 1-0 win over Brainerd.

*Legislative Update

Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act

Since our introduction last week, we have received support from national and Minnesota child care organizations. I’m pleased to see the ongoing awareness of this rural family issue, and look forward to building a child care coalition to get this legislation enacted.

"Access to child care is a crucial support for low-income families. Parents cannot work unless they have a safe and enriching place for their children to be while they are at their jobs. This legislation will help address the shortage of child care throughout Minnesota, particularly in greater Minnesota, and will help address a crucial barrier to employment. I am grateful for Senator Klobuchar and Congressman Peterson for their leadership in helping find solutions to this problem," said Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey.

"With more than half our nation's families living in a child care desert, we are facing a child care supply issue and the demand is too high and too costly to ignore. As a leading champion for young children, SCAN applauds Senators Klobuchar and Sullivan and Representatives Peterson and Herrera Beutler for their leadership on this issue. This legislation will ensure that more parents can enter or remain in the workforce while knowing their children are enrolled in the type of quality child care that lays a strong foundation for their future success,” said Mark Shriver, CEO of Save the Children Action Network (SCAN).

“The zip code where a family lives should never limit their ability to access high-quality child care. This bipartisan legislation will make a real difference in the lives of working families living in child care deserts. Additionally, it will help stimulate meaningful economic development in communities across the country through increased career opportunities for early educators. Thank you to Senators Klobuchar and Sullivan and Representatives Peterson and Herrera Beutler for your insightful leadership,” said Sarah Rittling, Executive Director of First Five Years Fund.

To read more, see the press release available on my website.

Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act

I am happy to announce that we added six cosponsors this week to H.R. 1379, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act, including fellow Minnesota Representative Pete Stauber. I also received a letter of thanks for taking the lead on this issue from the American Dental Association, which strongly supports this bipartisan legislation. The bill addresses health care coverage denials for treatments related to certain congenital anomalies or birth defects so that individuals suffering from diseases like Ectodermal Dysplasias can get the medically necessary reconstructive treatments they need.

This Week in American History

Map of Minnesota Territory

On March 5, 1853, seven counties were formed by Minnesota’s territorial legislature: Blue Earth, named for the Blue Earth River, along which blue clay was once found; Goodhue, named for newspaper editor James M. Goodhue; Le Sueur, for French explorer Pierre Charles Le Sueur; Nicollet, for French geographer Joseph N. Nicollet; Rice, for territorial delegate to Congress Henry M. Rice; Scott, for General Winfield Scott, hero of the Mexican War; and Sibley, for Henry H. Sibley, trader and politician.

What’s the Story?

White Earth Nation is located in Becker, Clearwater, and Mahnomen counties. White Earth is one of seven Chippewa Tribes in Minnesota. Members of the Nation continue to harvest wild rice by hand. It is picked from non-motorized canoes in the same way that it has been for generations. This tin of White Earth wild rice is in my Washington, D.C. office.

“Self Portrait”
Gracie Slagter