Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/12/2019
This week, I brought together the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, leading business and government executives from Minnesota, and a Member of Canadian Parliament to discuss CBP’s decision to reduce operating hours at the Roseau and Lancaster ports of entry and the policy’s effect on local communities. At the conclusion of the meeting, CBP agreed to reevaluate their decision and share that review with my office within a few weeks. I performed with my band, the Second Amendments, during the Annual North American Agricultural Journals Meeting on Monday. Senator Tina Smith hosted the 9th Annual Minnesota Delegation Hot Dish Competition in Washington on Tuesday. While my entry, “the (Jimmy) Dean of the Delegation’s Hotdish,” did not take first place this year, the crowd emptied the dish by the time the judges announced their favorites.
Serving the 7th
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
I continue hear from local businesses and elected officials about their concerns that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been dismissive about the economic impacts of their decision to reduce hours of service at the Lancaster and Roseau Ports of Entry. A mid-March meeting with CBP in Roseau was not productive, so with the help of my friend and Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee Bennie Thompson, another meeting was organized in Washington DC. At the meeting, local stakeholders shared with CBP officials what access to the border means to them. They included representatives from Polaris and PoDCo, as well as local government leaders: Roseau Mayor Jeff Pelowski; Todd Peterson, Community Development Coordinator; and Lancaster Councilman Luke Nordin. I was also appreciative that Ted Falk, a Member of Parliament for Manitoba, was also able to join and talked about Canada’s efforts to expand service on the border.
At the meeting, CBP committed to me and Chairman Thompson that they will be reevaluate their decision to reduce service hours at the ports of entry and share their review our offices in a few weeks. I will not give up on this.
Minnesota Delegation Hot Dish Competition
On Tuesday, I attended the Minnesota Congressional Delegation’s 9th Annual Hotdish Competition. Each Minnesota Member of Congress brought a hotdish to share and be judged by a three-member panel. This year, St. Paul’s Rep. Betty McCollum finished first, taking home the glass baking dish trophy. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis placed second, and the West Metro’s Rep. Dean Phillips showed in third.
Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN-01) Make’n Bacon Great Again Hotdish
Rep. Angie Craig (MN-02) World Championship Sausage Lynx Hotdish
Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) From Monrovia with Love: Liberian Inspired Hotdish
Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04) Hotdish A-Hmong Friends
Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05) Little Moga-hot-dishu
Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-06) From Cheese to Shining Cheese Hotdish
Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-07) The (Jimmy) Dean of the Delegation’s Hotdish
Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-08) Top of the Tater Hotdish
Sen. Amy Klobuchar The Final Four Layer Hotdish
Sen. Tina Smith Herd on the Hill Hotdish
I met with members of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Leadership Institute on Tuesday to share my experience and answer questions about the development of agricultural conservation policy in the House of Representatives. Conservation and agriculture are closely related, both in the field and in federal law. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized and improved many conservation programs that farmers and ranchers use to improve the quality of the land and water on their property. The group asked me about the process of negotiating the 2018 Farm Bill and what changes they can expect from the new law.
The American Association of Avian Pathologists were in Washington to talk about antibiotics use in the poultry industry and what can be done to prevent the spread of Newcastle Disease across American poultry farms. Board Members of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association met with my office to discuss opportunities to expand U.S. pork exports through trade negotiations with China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and the European Union. The group shared their concerns about the spread of African Swine Fever across Asia and stressed the importance of keeping the virus out of the U.S. I also met with a group of 4-Hers from the district who were in Washington to participate in the National 4-H Conference.
On Monday, I performed at the North American Agricultural Journalists Annual Meeting with my band, the Second Amendments. I was happy to perform alongside Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Chris Giancarlo, the Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives Father Pat Conroy and former Member of Congress Kenny Hulshof.
White Earth Nation
I sat down with White Earth on Tuesday to review issues important to the tribe including self-governance financing, infrastructure improvement proposals, and tribal law enforcement funding. The late-White Earth Nation Chairman Terrence Tibbetts recently passed away and my office flew a flag over the U.S. Capitol on the day of his funeral in honor of his memory.
Red Lake Nation
My staff aide Zach Martin heard from members of Red Lake Nation and Chairman Darrell Seki about the adverse financial effects of the government shutdown earlier this year. They also discussed the TIWAHE Initiative, a pilot program that aims to reduce poverty, substance abuse, and domestic violence in tribal areas. The results of the TIWAHE Initiative are promising and Red Lake is working to make the program accessible to youth members of the community.
Karlstad and Red Lake Students
On Wednesday I met with students from Karlstad and Red Lake. We chatted for a while on the Agriculture Committee’s balcony overlooking the Capitol before taking a picture. The students had a number of questions about what was going on in Congress, how Congressional offices work and what is being done to address the opioid epidemic.
North American Building Trades Union
I spoke to trade union members during a breakfast at the North American Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference this week. I enjoyed catching up with Willmar native Adam Duininck, who works with North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters. I will continue working for sensible regulation impacting our tradesmen and women, as well as working to protect their pensions, so they can continue to provide a robust housing supply in western Minnesota.
This week, the Explore Minnesota team visited with my staff to discuss tourism in the state and what we can do to promote Minnesota as a welcoming place for tourists from around the world. Tourism is an economic driver for many communities across the state, and we must insure Minnesota continues to thrive as a destination for travelers.
Minnesota Addiction Professionals
This week, my staff met with a representative of the Minnesota Addiction Professionals, where they discussed the importance of long-term care and ending stigma for people with substance use disorders. Stigma and gaps in privacy protections often discourage people from seeking treatments. Mr. Lundgren also stressed the importance of adequately funding the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program to help patients access the care they need.
Charps in Clearbrook
Joe Van Vynckt visited my office to talk about his support for energy infrastructure projects. His company, which is located in Clearbrook, employs approximately 150 workers. Charps is a pipeline construction company and they strongly support the the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project because of the jobs it would create in the region and the boost it will provide to the local tax base for rural counties. In some counties, property taxes from pipelines are the largest source of revenue. Pipelines are a safer alternative for shipping fuel and they provide much needed resources for rural counties who would otherwise have to cut back on the services they provide.
Minnesota Hospital Association
Senior hospital executives from Minnesota visited my Washington office to update my staff on a number of issues relevant to Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems, including opioids, mental health, and telehealth services. Especially for a rural district like the 7th, the group stressed the importance of the 340B drug pricing program and critical access hospitals. Minnesota’s hospitals are also major employers in the communities in which they are located, directly employing approximately 127,000 people and having a large impact on local economies.
Minnesota Optometric Association
This week, my staff met with the Minnesota chapter of the American Optometric Association. They discussed the importance of making sure doctors and patients maintain control over their eye health care, including access to prescription information and options for places to buy contact lenses and frames without impractical and burdensome requirements from vision plans. One important aspect they discussed was the importance of improving the quality of care for veterans. Veterans often lack access to quality eye care, so the association discussed upcoming legislation that improves eye care for veterans.
Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists
The Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists stopped by my Washington office this week to talk about issues important to the more than 53,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) in the United States. CRNAs help patients manage acute and chronic pain, and the group noted how they are able to help patients manage pain without opioids. The delegation noted their support for legislation that reduces barriers to chronic pain management services by allowing CRNAs to practice to the full extent that they have been educated and trained.
University of Minnesota LEND and The Arc
A delegation of Minnesota advocates who were in town for the annual Disability Policy Seminar visited with my staff to talk about issues including the reauthorization of the Autism CARES Act. The group included students and faculty associated with the University of Minnesota’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) as well as representatives of The Arc Minnesota, a nonprofit that provides advocacy services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The delegation thanked me for my support of the Autism CARES bill, which extends authorization of funding for autism treatment and research programs for five years. The group also talked about the need to support funding for home and community-based services as well as long term services and supports for disabled individuals.
Minnesota Beer Wholesalers Association
This week members of the Minnesota Beer Wholesalers Association visited my office to discuss a wide range of issues facing their businesses, from changes to the tax code to developments in CBD legality in the Farm Bill. I will continue to support their efforts so small businesses can continue to thrive in an increasingly complex regulatory landscape.
Minnesota Ophthalmologists, including constituent Michelle Atchison (MOORHEAD), sat down with my staff aide Rebekah Solem to talk about issues impacting ophthalmologists in the United States. The groups were in Washington as part of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Congressional Advocacy Day. The group talked about their support for funding of the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health as well as the Peer Reviewed Vision Research Program at the Department of Defense. They also talked about their opposition to requirements that are overly burdensome and do not benefit the patient, such as prior authorization and step therapy.
Minnesota Society for Respiratory Care
Jeff Anderson, a respiratory therapist, visited my office on behalf of the Minnesota Society for Respiratory Care. He talked about issues important to respiratory therapists, such as the need to use caution in what is included in the competitive bidding program so that it does not negatively impact patients. For example, the Society opposes inclusion of ventilators in this program for patient safety reasons. He also voiced support for a pilot program to include respiratory therapists as telehealth practitioners under Medicare.
Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation
Tun Swenson and Julia Nelmark of Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation and Frank Altman of CRF USA paid my office a visit to discuss the importance of New Markets Tax Credits. I have worked with MMCDC for years and applaud the work these folks do in community development. I will continue to support the New Markets Tax Credit among others that enable them to support their communities and small businesses across western Minnesota.
Americans for Homeopathy Choice
This week, my staff met with Sue Meyer and discussed the benefits of homeopathic treatments. Homeopathy is an alternative medicine that is non-toxic and made from natural substances. It is used by more than 1.7 million Minnesotans. Homeopathy is federally recognized as a form of medicine and regulated by the FDA. Homeopathy and pharmaceutical drugs have been regulated using different guidance for decades, but given the growth of the homeopathic industry, the FDA is proposing to change its approach to these products. Homeopathic practitioners like Sue want to make sure homeopathy remain an accessible option for Americans.
National Association of Housing Redevelopment Officials
Several 7th District housing specialists visited my Washington office this week as part of National Association of Housing Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). Adequate and affordable housing is a key part of any growing community. I will continue to support federal programs that help Minnesotans build their communities.
American Waterways Operators
The American Waterways Operators (AWO) represents America’s tugboat, towboat, and barge industry. Our agriculture economy relies on waterways to bring Minnesota’s products to market throughout the US and the world. We must invest in our waterways infrastructure and in maritime safety to ensure Minnesota exports stay strong.
E2 Visa Holders
This week a group representing E2 Visa holders paid my office a visit. They met with my staff aide Richard Lee to discuss E2 non-immigrant visas and issues related to the program ranging from renewals to children losing their legal status at 21. My office is looking for ways to improve the program to provide greater certainty for E2 Visa holders and their families.
Red Lake Electric Annual Meeting
My staff attended the Red Lake Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting this week. It is the Cooperative’s eighty-first year serving Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, and Polk Counties. Cooperative President Randy Versdahl addressed the crowd stating, “while times may have changed, our mission and outlook has not. We view our role as a catalyst for good. Working together, we can accomplish great things for our community now and in the future.” Minnesota has a long history of Rural cooperatives, with the first one being formed by farmers in 1914 in Yellow Medicine County. Before these cooperative efforts, there were only pockets of electrification in rural areas.
Service Academy Night in Bemidji
My staff braved the winter weather to hold a Service Academy Night in Bemidji this week. One determined student, Kaija Weishalla, and her mother Karla drove 2 hours in the blizzard to attend. Our office will be hosting two more Service Academy Nights throughout the district: April 29, 2019 in Windom MN and May 6, 2019 in St. Cloud MN.
Minnesota National Guard Quarterly Meeting
Meg Louwagie of my staff attended the Minnesota National Guard quarterly meeting and was briefed on the 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade Operational update, the 2019 Annual Report, and the State and Federal Legislative Priorities for 2019. They discussed the importance of increasing benefits for mobilized National Guard members and increasing the amount of full time staff. As a veteran of the National Guard, I am committed to supporting legislation that puts our service members first, which is why I am happy to cosign on the TRICARE Reserve Select Improvement Act.
Save the Internet Act
This week, I supported H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act, to restore bipartisan net neutrality protections. Accessible internet is increasingly a necessity for small businesses, rural broadband providers, students, and communities to succeed. This legislation codifies the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order and protects consumers against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. I am hopeful that the Senate will take up these vital protections to ensure a fair and open internet for everyone.
2017 Census of Agriculture
On Thursday, USDA announced the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The Census of Agriculture is conducted every 5 years by USDA to collect comprehensive information regarding the number, size, and function of farms across the country. It gathers economic and demographic information about American agriculture that is used to guide public and private decision making.
Last Week’s Questionnaire Results
This Week in American History
On April 9th, 1789, geographer David Thompson left the trading post of Jean-Baptiste Cadotte on Red Lake River, which began the last part of his 4,000-mile survey of the northern wilderness, the first scientific study of the state. He started in Grand Portage in August 1788, traveled to the upper Missouri River and then through Minnesota, where he wintered with Cadotte. He ended his trip by returning to Grand Portage in June.
What’s the Story?
New Flyer is the largest transit bus and motor coach manufacturer in North America. The company employs more than 1,200 Minnesotans, with about 400 working in their Crookston plant. The heavy-duty, electric vehicle manufacturer makes a major contribution to our district’s economy. New Flyer buses can actually be found around our nation’s capital as part of D.C.’s public transit system. You can see one of their buses in D.C. above.