Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 5/10/2019
This week, I met with students from Waubun High School who were in Washington as part of a Close Up Foundation trip. I enjoyed talking with them about the issues affecting their community and seeing them run a mock committee hearing. On Wednesday, I voted to support a Cost of Living increase for veterans during a Veterans’ Affairs Committee Markup. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management heard testimony from agriculture producers during a hearing on the state of the farm economy. During the hearing, agriculture leaders shared the challenges caused by depressed commodity prices and retaliatory tariffs. On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence visited Glyndon to thank me for my leadership on agriculture issues and for my ongoing support of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Serving the 7th
As a Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am committed to helping veterans in Washington. My office can also help Minnesotan’s in the 7th district on issues related to federal agencies. My staff aide Meg Louwagie is an expert on helping service members and veterans get the benefits they deserve from the federal government. If you or a family member have issues with Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, VA hospitals, or missing service records, she may be able to help. During her tenure with my team, Meg has resolved hundreds of cases involving GI Bill benefits, lost service medals, and issues with VA medical care, to name a few.
Meg also helps students interested in our U.S. Service Academies by providing informational sessions and answering questions. Each year, I nominate students to the military service academies, with finalists interviewed by a panel of service academy graduates in the district. This year, three of the nominations that I made were appointed to a service academy.
To find out more about how my office can help veterans in your community, please contact Meg at Meg.firstname.lastname@example.org and she will discuss your situation with you. My office is available to assist you in any matters that fall under my jurisdiction as your federal representative.
The Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held a hearing on Thursday to review the state of the farm economy. Subcommittee members heard testimony from farmers representing a diverse group of commodity and vegetable operations that stressed the importance of maintaining a strong farm safety net and the need for disaster relief in areas affected by hurricanes and other extreme weather events. Mike Peterson, a corn, soybean and hog farmer from Northfield told the Subcommittee that long-term trends of market consolidation and rising input costs have narrowed farmers’ profit margins. He suggests that producers work to increase their operational efficiency to better cope with tightening margins, and that Congress maintain crop insurance and other federal programs that help farmers manage the risk that comes with farming.
I met with Perry Aasness and Rod Hebrink from Compeer Financial this week. Compeer is a member-owned provider of loans, leases, risk management, and financial services. Compeer serves thousands of individuals and businesses in rural Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. I also sat down with David Kragnes with CoBank to talk about the credit situation for agriculture. We talked about the importance of getting USMCA done to move the ball forward on trade and the need to get high speed broadband to small rural communities. David shared information about a pilot program where tele-medicine was used to save rural resident’s thousands per year in healthcare costs with tele-health services. I reiterated my support for reforming the Universal Service Fund to ensure that rural communities have the dedicated funding stream they need to build out broadband to the places it is needed.
On Sunday, I was a guest on Agri-Pulse Open Mic where I discussed my recent bipartisan delegation trip to Central and South America, disaster aid funding, the USMCA, and the effect of trade negotiations on American agriculture. Today, I spoke with Joel Heitkamp on News and Views about the USMCA and Vice President Pence’s visit to the 7th district.
House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held its first markup in the 116th Congress and considered 18 pieces of legislation aimed at solidifying coverage for our Blue Water Navy veterans, reducing veteran suicide rates, providing a Cost of Living Adjustment increase for veteran compensation, and much more. I was proud to support all of these bills and look forward to seeing them reach the House floor.
Waubun-Ogema-White Earth Schools in D.C.
This week I met with students from Waubun-Ogema-White Earth Schools. They were a hoot! We talked about everything from the need for better roads in their area to the excitement of winning the state championship in football. One student talked to me about how he is starting to work in the sugar industry and what the sugar program means to him and his neighbors. After taking picture on the Agriculture Committee balcony, the students sat around the dais and held a mock committee hearing. They voted unanimously in support of fixing the potholes on the highway. It looks like we have some young leaders ready to take on issues.
Willmar Friends Appointed to Service Academies
I visited Willmar Senior High School this week to congratulate Harley Anez and Mateo Marin-Mera on their appoints to U.S. Service Academies. Harley will be attending the U.S. Air Force Academy and Mateo will be going to the U.S. Naval Academy. This is the first time I can recall two friends being appointed from the same high school. Harley and Mateo supported each other throughout the application process. In fact, when Harley didn’t have a jacket to wear to his interview, Mateo let Harley borrow his once he finished his interview.
I look forward to hearing about Harley and Mateo’s successes and am thankful for their commitment to serve in our armed forces.
On the heels of Harley and Mateo’s appointments, my staff is working to prepare for the next service academy nomination cycle. This past week, my staff aide Meg Louwagie organized the last of our Spring Service Academy Nights. The informational event was held in St. Cloud and co-hosted by Congressman Emmer’s office. Students came to hear about opportunities in our armed services and academy nominations processes from Service Academy and Coast Guard representatives.
Congressional Art Competition Winner
I am pleased to announce Aumbra Manley of Fergus Falls as this year’s 2019 Congressional Art Competition winner for Minnesota’s Seventh District. For her artwork Hidden Struggles, Aumbra will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to see it displayed alongside winners from across the country. I always look forward to seeing the art competition entries and I am proud of how talented these young artists in the district are. I appreciate all the participants for their submissions and I look forward to showcasing this artwork in the United States Capitol.
Stearns County Attorney
Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall and Special Assistant to the County Attorney Justin Lysen visited my office to highlight their ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking across Minnesota. I appreciate all their efforts to put an end to this often invisible crime, and I will do everything in my power to provide teams like Janelle's the funding and resources they need to keep up their good work.
Transportation and Infrastructure Meetings
Several groups visited my Washington D.C. office to talk about the critical need to invest in America’s transportation and infrastructure system. The American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota discussed the important role engineers play in ensuring infrastructure projects are sustainable and effective. TheAssociation of American Railroads andtheInternational Foodservice Distributors Association spoke about the vital role safe and well-maintained infrastructure plays in our economy and trade. TheAmerican Public Transportation Association andthe National Air Carrier Association highlighted the number of Minnesotans who depend upon reliable transportation systems to travel in their everyday lives. We must find a way to responsibly and sustainably fund improvements to our national infrastructure, especially in rural areas that are too often left behind.
Eliott Jaffee, Executive Vice President of Commercial Banking, and Mark Januschka, Community Banking Division President of St. Cloud, met with my staff to discuss issues facing banking in Minnesota. From easing burdensome and inefficient regulations to protecting individuals’ privacy and data. The financial service industry works to protect and grow individual wealth and expand markets in western Minnesota.
Institute for Portfolio Alternatives
This week, Jennifer Simon of Prior Lake, Paul Mumma of St. Louis Park, and James Goedtke of Slayton visited my office to discuss portfolio diversifying investment strategies, updates to the accredited investor definition and Regulation A offering limits, as well as proposed SEC regulations and oversight. I appreciate their efforts to advise and assist individuals of the public about investment opportunities, so their portfolios can continue to grow and have a diverse set of holdings to weather tumultuous markets.
National Association of Addiction Treatment
Marti Paulson and Carrie Hargrave of Project Turnabout in Granite Falls visited my Washington office in conjunction with the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers’ annual meeting. They talked about a number of issues including the importance of ethics and eliminating corruption, mental health parity, and making sure individuals can access their insurance benefits. While many people talk about an opioid epidemic, the advocates clarified that it is really an addiction epidemic, noting that opioid abuse is just one type of substance abuse. For example, according to statistics put out by the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, some estimates put opioid related deaths at 70,000 per year and alcohol-related deaths at 80,000 per year. It is important that we address opioids but also the larger issue of addiction.
Minnesota Lymphedema Advocacy Group
The Minnesota Lymphedema Advocacy Group visited with my staff aide Rebekah Solem on Monday to discuss legislation that would impact Minnesotans with lymphedema. Lymphedema is chronic swelling that often occurs due to traumatic injury or as a result of cancer treatments, but in about 10 percent of cases, it is congenital. The advocates discussed different therapies, highlighting the importance of compression therapy.
Federal Disaster Assistance
My staff was out attending Preliminary Disaster Assistance Meetings this week as Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gathered estimated cost for the spring flooding. As of Friday morning, Minnesota HSEM indicates that the cost of damage is already are three times the FEMA indicators. They have one more week of meetings to finish the assessments.
Highway 2 West Manufacturers Association Meeting
The Highway 2 West Manufacturers’ Association brings together people and resources to promote success in northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota. This meeting was held at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND to talk about how to use state and local incentives to grow your business. Ryan Barstad, one of the owners of Arc Metal Forming talked about his new business of cutting and bending metal for manufacturers.
Small Business Administration Awards Ceremony
For National Small Business Week, my staff attended Minnesota’s Small Business Administration Awards Ceremony to recognize and celebrate standout small businesses and organizations. Congratulations to the Southwest Small Business Development Center located within Southwest Minnesota State University, who was recognized with the Small Business Development Center Innovation and Excellence Award.
Minnesota Association of County Office Employees Convention
Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees met in Alexandria for their annual Minnesota Association of County Office Employees (MNASCOE) Convention. MNASCOE President Kayla Mattson shared with the convention attendees my work coordinating with local governments regarding the Farm Bill and the government shutdown at the beginning of the year. She expressed her appreciation on behalf of County Office Staff for the Farm Bill and the Agriculture Committee for keeping the concerns of FSA employees, as well as those that use of FSA programs, in mind. My staff agricultural assistant Grant Herfindahl received the Certificate of Appreciation from President Mattson and passed along my appreciation for the hard work that FSA employees do for our farmers.
Library of Congress Books Presented to Ortonville Public Library
My staff aide Grant Herfindahl dropped off books at the Ortonville Public Library this week. My office acquired the books from the Library of Congress and organized for them to be sent to Ortonville to be used in the local library.
An increased frequency of natural disasters has forced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to focus relief efforts on only the largest disasters, lacking the money to provide resources for smaller ones. Last month, Senate negotiations came to a standstill over $13 billion in disaster relief funding for communities affected by recent wildfires, flooding, and hurricanes.
Despite this rigorous debate in the Senate, the federal government has thoughtlessly spent the same amount – $13 billion – in interest on the national debt over the past two weeks alone.
The debt places an undue burden on the federal budget and only makes it more difficult to fund important programs like disaster relief.
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.
Minneapolis Passport Agency Anniversary Event
To commemorate its 10th Anniversary, the Minneapolis Passport Agency is hosting a passport acceptance event on Saturday, May 18th. The agency will be taking first time and renewal applications for routine and expedite applications. Those wishing to take advantage of the event should make an appointment and show up with proof of citizenship, a valid ID, a passport photo, and applicable fees. Information on fee, form, and photo requirements can be found at http://www.travel.state.gov under “U.S. Passports”.
You can make an appointment online or by calling 1-877-481-2778. Details are below.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Minneapolis Passport Agency
Old Federal Building
212 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Up to $2,500 Match for STEM Interns
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is promoting their SciTechsperience Internship Program. It is a free, state-funded program aimed at connecting small businesses with college STEM students for paid internships. Employers can receive up to $2,500 to match 50% of intern wages. Employers and students can find more information at SciTechMN.org.
Protect Your Move
May and June are busy months for moving. If you are planning a move, be sure you’re transporting your belongings safely. Using untrustworthy movers can make you vulnerable to moving fraud, which can take the form of simple overcharges, property damage, or even having belongings held hostage.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) is promoting their “Protect Your Move” campaign to combat moving fraud. If you want become better educated on how to plan a successful move or report a moving scam, visit their website.
Last Week’s Questionnaire Results
Last week, I asked for your thoughts on what the U.S. should do to better respond to natural disasters. Here is how you answered:
50.7% of survey participants said the government should start budgeting for disasters so communities don’t have to wait for Congress to act on supplemental disaster packages
49.3% said to increase funding for preventative measures to reduce the damage caused by natural disasters
43.3% said to encourage better building codes to better protect against extreme weather
25% said to reauthorizing existing programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
20.9% said to increase funding for nutrition and social programs in affected areas
16.4% said to put more FEMA staff in regional offices to provide faster assistance
3% said they do not know
This Week in American History
On May 11th, 1858, Minnesota was admitted to the United States. The enabling act for statehood was sponsored by Minnesota Territorial Delegate Henry Mower Rice passed on February 26, 1857. The state's constitution was written that summer and ratified in October. Once Congress approved Minnesota’s statehood, the bill was signed by President James Buchanan. Word of statehood did not reach St. Paul until May 13, 1858.