Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 6/7/2019
This week, the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry held a roundtable, where we discussed conservation issues related to agriculture easements. I met with representatives from Land O’Lakes and attended Dairy Days in Hutchinson in honor of June being national dairy month. On Wednesday, I flew a flag over the Capitol in Honor of Peter Thompson, a Vietnam veteran from White Earth, who was buried in Arlington National Cemetery this week. This week is also the 75th Anniversary of D-Day; there were a number of events to honor World War II veterans in the district in recognition of their bravery and service.
Minnesota 7th District
Serving the 7th
Bernstrom Oil Company
Just before I held a town hall in Lancaster, I stopped by the Bernstrom Oil Company Convenience Store for lunch. Bernstrom Oil is a local business that’s been adversely affected by the reduction in operating hours at the Lancaster and Roseau Land Ports of Entry. This reduction limits traffic coming to and from Canada. Businesses like Bernstrom Oil is a major reason why I’ve sent letters to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and met with their officials in Minnesota and Washington, DC. I will continue to hold the agency accountable for decisions that are hurt local Minnesota commerce.
On August 9, 2018, USDA issued a press release outlining their plan to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside of Washington, D.C. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research held a hearing on Wednesday to hear from producers and researchers about the effect the move would have on their work. USDA argues that relocating the agencies would place them closer to the agriculture community and allow them to attract more quality staff - proposing locations in Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, and North Carolina. During the hearing, witnesses told the Subcommittee that moving the agencies away from the National Capital Region would limit the agencies’ ability to interact with lawmakers and other government agencies, weakening their role in federal policymaking. Witnesses also stated that moving the agencies away from the Capital will make them less accessible to the public by requiring trips to multiple locations, and that relocating them could bias the agencies’ work to benefit the region they are located.
Veterans Town Hall Meeting
Last week, I hosted a veterans’ town hall in Lancaster. As a veteran myself, I was glad to hear stories from veterans about their service and needs. I joined the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee this Congress to ensure our veterans are treated with the dignity they deserve.
This week, I visited PODCO, a powder coating industry in Lancaster. The Nordin Family started the powder coating business to address the demand in the area. Their business has grown and is the largest employer in the town. PODCO makes flooring and ceiling tile for Armstrong Tile Division. Their products are used in many places, including the Fargo Airport.
Today I attended the Dairy Days Celebration in Hutchinson. This annual event celebrates the importance of the dairy industry to the Hutchinson community by bringing folks together for activities that included a cow milking contest, a fro-yo eating contest, and live music. I had the chance to chat with 2018-2019 Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Rebekka Paskewitz, and some of the finalists to take over the role for 2019-2020. Each year, a Princess Kay of the Milky Way is selected to represent the dairy industry and educate the public about the needs and lifestyle of the dairy farmers.
This week I stopped by the Minnesota AFL-CIO offices to visit with labor leader from a number of different unions. Some of the topics we discussed included current legislation related to collective bargaining, nursing home closures, veterans’ affairs issues and immigration.
To tackle veteran homelessness, I led a letter with the Minnesota delegation to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, highlighting the success of the Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry and how it could be useful on the national level. This registry has been a lifeline to Minnesota’s veterans by offering housing and other services to about 1700 servicemen and women throughout the state. As a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, putting an end to veteran homelessness is a bipartisan issue that I am passionate about and will continue to fight for.
Peter Thompson Funeral
On June 5th, Peter Thompson of White Earth was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Mr. Thompson was a six-time purple heart recipient from the Vietnam War. I requested that a flag was flown over the Capitol building in his honor, as he and his family made their way to his final resting place. About 30 people from White Earth came out to DC to witness the event.
National Grain and Feed Association
My staff met with representatives of the National Grain and Feed Association this week to discuss the proposed United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA), the state of American water and rail infrastructure, and the upcoming expiration of the U.S. Grain Standards Act. Strong trade agreements benefit American agriculture by creating certainty in international markets and efficient transportation systems ensure our products are competitive. I will continue to advocate for the enactment of USMCA and for legislation to upgrade and maintain our nation’s critical infrastructure.
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
This week the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce visited with my office to discuss their priorities to improve business in Minnesota. One of the issues I have heard time and time again is the need for regulatory certainty and predictability. This matters when we are competing with neighboring states such as South Dakota for new industries like shrimp production. With the House recently voting on an immigration measure, they group talked about the significant number of job openings in places like Willmar, Marshall, and the resorts up north that are struggling to find labor. They also talked about ongoing concerns with lawyers who are abusing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to target small businesses. It is disheartening to hear how this important law is being undermined by bad actors.
EPA Eliminates Animal Waste Emission Reporting Requirements
On Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a final rule exempting air emissions from animal waste from the reporting requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). This rule eliminates time-consuming and imprecise reporting requirements placed on livestock operations. I am glad to see the EPA move to eliminate this burden for our farmers and ranchers and shift agency resources toward issues that more strongly impact our environment.
Health Care Pulse
American Society of Acupuncturists
On Monday, Doctor of Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Korina St. John of East Grand Forks visited my Washington office on behalf of the American Society of Acupuncturists’ national conference. Dr. St. John discussed issues impacting her patients and practice, including the need to make it easier for our veterans to access acupuncture.
Minnesota Board of Medical Practice
Representatives of the Federation of State Medical Boards, including Joseph Willett, a former member of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, met with my office this week as part of the group’s annual fly in. The group highlighted work being done by state medical boards to improve patient safety, specifically talking about the Docinfo.org website. This tool will allow people to verify information about a doctor’s medical license and professional practice.
CHI St. Gabriel’s
Doctors and other clinic staff visited my office on Tuesday to talk about CHI St. Gabriel’s Family Medical Center’s ECHO project. This tele-mentoring tool allows health care information and services to be brought to people in rural and underserved areas. In Minnesota, Project ECHO is being used to educate people on better prescribing practices for opioids and controlled substances. The group talked about the positive results they have seen and noted they are the only ECHO project in Minnesota driven by family doctors rather than being university-based. They thought this model had many positives because doctors have on-the-ground knowledge of circumstances and thus can relate to other practitioners participating in ECHO sessions.
American Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Minnesotans advocating on behalf of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons visited my Washington office to discuss a number of current issues. The group talked about ways to address surprise medical billing as well as current legislation to increase competition in health insurance.
Care Providers of Minnesota
The Care Providers of Minnesota met with my staff in Washington on Tuesday to talk about issues facing Minnesota’s seniors living in long-term care settings. The association includes more than 900 members who provide a wide variety of services and support, including nursing homes, assisted living communities, and mental health providers. The biggest issues facing care providers in rural Minnesota relate to workforce shortages. The group also discussed other issues including working to address billing practices that often surprise and negatively impact Medicare beneficiaries.
National Association of Home Builders
This week the National Association of Home Builders held their 2019 Legislative Conference here in Washington. Several Minnesotan builders stopped by to discuss the increasing demand for homes throughout our state, and the need for affordable housing. Our communities can only grow with room for new families to live. I will continue to support increasing housing throughout the 7th.
Minnesota Association of Townships
Several township officers with the Minnesota Association of Townships (MAT) visited my office this week to share the important work our local townships do to support Minnesotans. With more than 1,700 townships throughout Minnesota, many of our rural communities organize their local government with the assistance and training MAT provides. From broadband deployment and mapping to transportation and infrastructure modernization, our townships deserve a voice in how federal investments are allocated.
National Postal Mailhandler’s Union
This week, Dean Abatte, Jeff Larsen, and Brock Engstrom stopped by my office to discuss the United States Postal Service (USPS). I am committed to maintaining the service standards of the USPS so Minnesota’s 7th continues to receive adequate service. I will keep fighting to repeal the prefunding mandate, so that the Postal Service can continue to ensure mail is delivered to rural communities.
Weiss Asparagus Farm
My staff, along with the Northwest Regional Development Commission toured the Weiss Asparagus Farm near Red Lake Falls. Many people do not realize the unique and complicated process that it takes to grow asparagus. The Weiss family gave my staff a tour of the facility and shared their recent work with us.
Federal Aviation Administration Briefing
On Thursday, my staff attended a congressional briefing by the Federal Aviation Administration hosted by Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth. The briefing addressed general aviation in Minnesota and covered the many important topics that our local and regional airports face each day.
United Veterans Legislative Council
This week, one of my aide’s, Meg Louwagie, attended the United Veterans Legislative Council of Minnesota meeting. Meg gives the UVLC a monthly update from my office on Veterans issues and legislation as well as gathers information for other State and Federal Veterans Agencies and Organizations.
National Guard Quarterly Briefing
This week, my staff Meg Louwagie attended the Minnesota National Guard Quarterly Briefing. This quarter’s briefing covered the Minnesota National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Stand-down, the 133rd Airlift Wing, and 2-135 Infantry Deployment Briefing.
Garden Valley Annual Meeting
It is not often that you can have a meal with a World War II and a Korean Veteran at the same table. At the recent Garden Valley Annual Meeting, my staff was able to visit with Clifford Bartz from McIntosh. Mr. Bartz, now 97 years old, fought in the Battle of the Budge. Ron Bushy from Mentor, a Veteran from the Korean War, was also at my staff’s table. My staff was glad to hear their stories.
Minnesota Timberwolves coming to 7th District
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected four local basketball courts around Minnesota to refurbish through their “Our Courts. Our Future” program. The Timberwolves will travel throughout the summer to local parks renovating their facilities and adding additional amenities. Congratulations to Bill LaFave Park in Thief River Falls and Independence Park in Marshall as two of the four sites selected from this year’s nominations. Their courts are used by all ages and potentially the home to summer intramural leagues.
This past week, the federal government spent over $7.5 billion on the national debt interest. That is equivalent to Homeland Security’s budget for Immigration and customs enforcement.
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.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Votes to Allow Phone Carriers to Block Robocalls
This week the FCC voted to allow phone carriers to block robocalls, an important new option to help reduce scams and fraudulent calls. I have heard from many constituents who have suffered from repeat calls or who have fallen victim to phone scams. I am hopeful this new FCC determination will help to curb the recent rise in robocalls.
Last Week’s Questionnaire Results
Last week, I asked you about the impact of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on your community. Here is what you had to say:
I also asked you about the specific results do you expect to see from the agreement. Here are some of the responses!
What’s the Story?
Recently, I participated in the annual Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Congressional Shootout, an event that brings together Democrats and Republicans to participate in a skeet, trap, and sporting clays shootout. Over the years, I have won Top Gun, but this year I was awarded Top Skeet. It is always a pleasure to break clays and work to support the sportsmen and women across the country.
This week, my Washington, D.C. office welcomed two new interns. Finn Eggerling is from Hallock and will be starting at Brown University this fall. Taylor Spreeman is from St. Paul and finishing up her degree in Political Science and Philosophy at North Dakota State University.
Visitors from GLYNDON, MAYNARD, MELROSE, and DETROIT LAKES