Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/19/2019
This week, I spent time in the 7th District listening to constituents. On Monday, I was a guest at a town hall meeting in Detroit Lakes hosted by the Detroit Lakes Area League of Women Voters. I answered questions with state legislators Kent Eken and Paul Marquart, and we discussed the need for bipartisan solutions in Washington, D.C. and St. Paul. I have also been keeping an eye on flooding across the district and how it is affecting utility companies and communities. Local leaders and I are discussing solutions to help communities repair damages. Earlier this week, I called on Congress to approve a one-time payment to help flooded farmers recover. Happy Easter and Passover!
Serving the 7th
E2 Visa Reform
I cosponsored legislation this week to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow certain E2 nonimmigrant visa holders to adjust their status to lawful permanent residents after 10 years of residing within the United States. This legislation would directly impact families like that of Kor Mulder’s whose sons are required to move back to the Netherlands due to age restrictions. After learning of the Mulder family’s situation, I began to look for ways to help solve this issue for Kor Mulder and his sons.
Town Hall in Detroit Lakes
Monday, I joined state legislators Kent Eken and Paul Marquart for a town hall meeting hosted by the Detroit Lakes Area League of Women Voters. I advised that people turn off heavily biased news stations. It is important that people recognize that many outlets say what people want to hear, instead of offering an objective point of view. State Senator Eken and Representative Marquart pushed the audience to write letters to their local legislators and news editors regarding the need for bipartisanship. Senator Eken and Representative Marquart also talked about plans to address broadband and other community development projects.
April Snowstorm Impacts the 7th
Last week, a spring snowstorm covered parts of the 7th District with several inches of fresh snow – as much as 10 inches in certain areas. In addition to travel disruptions caused by poor driving conditions, heavy winds gusted up to 50 miles an hour and took down power lines, which led to widespread power outages. This storm adds to Minnesota’s flood concerns and further complicates an already delayed planting season.
Flood Management Projects in Action
My staff attended the April meeting of the Red River Water Management Board and heard discussion about flood control projects. The watersheds listed their projects and the amount of water they store. When adding up the total acre feet of water kept in their pools, it shows that these flood impoundments diminish flood damages in our communities. The photos above show examples of ring dikes (left) and water impoundments (right).
News and Views with Joel Heitkamp
On Wednesday, I spoke with Joel Heitkamp on his show “News and Views.” Our conversation focused on the House Committee on Agriculture, agriculture policy, and immigration. I talked about my focus on helping new members on the committee learn about agriculture policy to build a strong bench of members on my committee. Joel and I also discussed the implementation of policies to help dairy farmers and other issues in agriculture.
Several of the show’s listeners called in with questions about immigration. I expressed my frustration with partisanship on this issue and the need to find common ground. I have heard from my constituents about the need for agriculture labor and I support a system that allows legal immigrants to work in the U.S. legally without being granted citizenship. I also believe it is time to look at new ways to address asylum seekers at the southern border. We also need to strengthen the E-Verify system to hold employers more accountable for hiring people who aren’t authorized to work in the U.S.
Point of View with Chris Berg
On Wednesday, I also met with Chris Berg on his show “Point of View.” We talked about the Mueller report and the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). I talked about the need to wait until the full Mueller report was made public and everyone had had time to read it before reaching conclusions about it. I also expressed my support for the USMCA. While I am not sure the agreement will be able to pass the House in its current form, I hope my leadership in the agriculture community will help speed it through the process.
Minnesota Telecomm Alliance
This week the Minnesota Telecomm Alliance (MNTA) visited my office to discuss the issues facing our small and rural broadband providers. Issues like inaccurate Federal Communications Commission maps, insufficient Universal Service Fund dollars, and the high cost of serving rural areas makes it hard to bridge the digital divide. I remain a strong supporter of our rural broadband networks and will keep working until every home and business has accessible and affordable internet.
Minnesota Dental Association
The Minnesota Dental Association stopped by my Washington office this week to talk about issues important to dentists, students, and patients in the district. Dental students stressed the high cost of dental school and the need for assistance when it comes to student loans and lowering debt. The group also thanked me for my leadership on H.R. 1379, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act, and noted it is important that children born with congenital anomalies can get the medically necessary dental work they need.
University of Minnesota Extension
Nathan Winter and Karen Johnson met with my staff on behalf of University of Minnesota Extension this week to provide an update on Extension activities in the 7th District. University of Minnesota Extension has an office in every county of Minnesota, allowing them to serve communities across the state. They offer educational programming that covers related to animals and livestock, community development, stress management, home and financial management, and many other topics.
Minnesota Network of Hospice and Palliative Care
My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with Minnesotans in town for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Hospice Advocacy Network 2019 Fly-in. The advocates talked about legislation that promotes improved training for doctors, nurses, and others involved in palliative care as well as legislation that funds research to advance clinical practice and care delivery in these areas. The group also discussed special considerations for hospice care in rural areas, including the need to eliminate barriers in receiving such care.
American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
On Tuesday, Minnesota members of the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management visited with my staff in Washington. They discussed issues including price transparency. Given how confusing medical billing can be, the group noted it is important that price transparency rules serve their intended purpose and help consumers of health care get the information they want to know. For example, many consumers want to know what their out-of-pocket cost will be, which can be different than what a procedure actually costs.
Alexandria Technical & Community College
The Alexandria community on Thursday welcomed Michael Seymour as the incoming President of Alexandria Technical & Community College. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor Devinder Malhotra introduced Seymour at a reception on the campus. His appointment will be effective July 1, 2019. Seymour currently serves as Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Lake Superior College in Duluth. I look forward to working with Seymour in his new position to advance workforce opportunities in the Alexandria region.
Rural Voices Listening Session in Alexandria
Grant Herfindahl of my staff attended a Rural Voices Listening Session sponsored by the Minnesota Farmers Union in Alexandria this week. Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Thom Peterson, National Farmers Union Vice-President Patty Edelburg, and Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish moderated the listening session. The listening session was well attended by the general public as well as by local State Representative Paul Anderson and State Senator Bill Ingetbrigtsen. Topics covered ranged from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), pesticide rules, water quality issues, mental health concerns, health insurance unaffordability and co-pays.
Legislative District 4 Town Hall Meeting in Moorhead
My staff attended the Legislative Town Hall meeting in Moorhead this week. With about one month left in the Minnesota legislative session, there are still many decisions to be made at the state level. State Senator Kent Eken, Rep. Paul Marquart, and Rep. Ben Lien gave their summary of several issues such as tax changes, education funding, healthcare, and transportation investments. Rep. Paul Marquart mentioned that the Minnesota Legislature is the only state with a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. He said, “Everyone is trying hard to get their work done on time so we can be a good example to other states that we can work together.”
2018 Congressional Art Competition Winner Jenika Moen
Jenika Moen is the winner of last year’s Congressional Art Competition and she was able to see her painting displayed in the Capitol Complex this week in Washington. I chose her painting, Prince, to represent the 7th district over the last year. I am glad she made it out before her painting is taken down to make room for the 2019 winner. Jenika let my staff know that she intends to participate in the Competition again this year and I look forward to seeing more of her work.
My office is accepting submissions for the 2019 Congressional Art Competition through April 24th. Click here for submission instructions and contest rules.
So far this year, the federal government has spent over $115 billion just on paying off interest for our national debt.
Experts think we need to spend at least $45 billion more on roads and bridges each year for 20 years to fix our crumbling infrastructure. Getting our debt under control means we could have used that $115 billion in debt payments to make more than 2 years’ worth of needed repairs to our Interstate Highway System, creating jobs and making our roads and bridges safer.
As a fiscally conservative Blue Dog democrat, I have continually supported a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would require Congress to get our fiscal house in order. I have also fought for Pay-As-You-Go legislation to ensure legislation doesn’t add to our debt and recently voted against the Democratic budget which would have worsened our fiscal situation.
Tickets for Troops
The Veterans Tickets Foundation provides discounted and free tickets for sporting events, concerts, performing arts, and educational and family activities to all Veterans, active-duty military, their families, and immediate family survivors. This program is aimed at helping veterans and their families in reducing stress and making lasting memories. As a veteran, I understand how important it is to reduce stress by spending time with family and friends.
Last Week’s Questionnaire Results
Last week we asked about how residents of Minnesota’s 7th district feel about the current tax system. On average people said that they spent 8 hours filing their taxes. A number of others told us that they had to pay to use a profession tax filing service and felt that completing their taxes was overly complicated.
This Week in American History
On April 19th, 1945, "Hail! Minnesota" became the state song. It was written by two University of Minnesota students in 1904 and 1905. It is also the university's official song.
What’s the Story?
My staff aide Richard Lee and his wife Julia brought the newest addition to their family, Charlotte, to visit my Washington D.C. office this week. Charlotte seems right at home at my desk but, thankfully, she will not be eligible to run for office until 2044. I am happy to have a growing 7th District family serving the people of western Minnesota!