Rep. Peterson's Newsletter and Questionnaire 10/19/2020

October 19, 2020
Newsletter

Wheat field in the Seventh District
 

Dear Friends,

Two years ago, I made a promise that I would serve on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs so Minnesota Veterans would have a voice. Since that time, I have made veterans issues a top priority through the appropriations process and have fought for projects in the district and throughout the state that will benefit veterans and their families. As part of this work, I am very proud to announce that I was able to secure federal funding for the Veterans Cemetery in Redwood County which will serve over 22,000 veterans. Veterans from the area asked for my assistance to get this project done at a town hall meeting on veterans’ issues I hosted in March 2019, and I will continue to work on it until it is built. 

Local communities continue to tell me about how excessive Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) land acquisitions are straining the local tax base. When the FWS takes productive land off the tax rolls it takes money away from schools, police, and other critical services leading to higher taxes for everyone else. I introduced a bill with Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) which would force the FWS to pay full property taxes on any new land they acquire, and stop them from buying any new land if they fall behind on their payments to local governments. FWS has been defunding our rural communities, and this bill would stop it. 

At a time when seniors have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus, the Social Security Administration announced the second-lowest Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries. Social Security is a lifeline to millions of seniors and I am supporting emergency legislation that would grant a 3% COLA increase. 


Sincerely,

 

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Congressman Collin C. Peterson

Minnesota 7th District

Redwood County Cemetery

Speaking with Veterans

For over a decade, advocates have been fighting for the Redwood County Veterans Cemetery, and this month, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notified the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) of their plans to award a $5.9 million grant to establish a State Veterans Cemetery in Redwood County.

I joined the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs so I could better assist veterans on projects like this. I’m honored that I could help in the effort to get federal funding for this important project.

It is very important to me that those who have served our nation are honored throughout their lives and are laid to rest with the respect and appreciation they deserve.

Read what veterans have to say about the project and a timeline of steps to secure this federal award NCA grant here

Chairman's Corner

Trade Discussions with United Kingdom Officials  

Videoconference with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and United Kingdom officials

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) invited agriculture leaders from across the state to a meeting with trade officials from the United Kingdom last week. The UK officials shared their perspective on the negotiations for a new trade agreement with the United States and I stated my support for a strong trade deal that improves market access for America’s farmers and ranchers. There are difficult issues on both sides that will need to be addressed before a deal is reached, and I will do what I can to make sure the end product is good for our producers. I appreciate Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen and his team at MDA for putting this meeting together. Trade is about relationships and meetings like this one help move negotiations in the right direction. 

Fish and Wildlife Service Compensation to Local Governments

When the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) acquires new land, that land is taken off of the local tax rolls, reducing property tax revenues local governments use to fund schools, police and other essential services. I introduced the Local Government Taxpayer Fairness Act with Reps. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) to require the Fish and Wildlife Service to pay full property taxes on new land they acquire, and stop them from buying land if they fall behind on their payments. Current programs compensating local government for FWS lands have fallen short in recent years and this legislation will ensure worthy conservation projects do not come at the expense of local taxpayers. 

Multi-County Farmers Union Meeting

Wheat field in the Seventh District

I was happy to address the Minnesota Farmers Union Multi-County meeting on Sunday, October 11th on Zoom. The Farmers Union members from Red Lake, Pennington, Marshall, Roseau, and Kittson counties held their first multi-county meeting. I was able to bring them up to date on some of the negotiations taking place in Washington, D.C. Farmers need to regain the agreed volume of ethanol that is used in gasoline by not allowing the EPA to issue so many waivers to large oil companies.   

Stepping up in the Seventh

Photo courtesy of the Pipestone County Star

On October 8th, a field in Northeast Jasper caught fire when an employee, operating a stalk chopper, hit a rock causing a spark to turn into flames. Local fire departments in Jasper, Pipestone, and Edgerton as well as near-by farmers, rushed to create a fire break to stop the spread. Jasper Fire Chief, Jeff Leslie, said the department had responded to various other fires before responding to this field. Luckily, no one was injured, however, ten acres of corn stalks were burned. The field owner described the experience as humbling to see local farmers and firefighters respond so quickly.

In times of distress, farmers and emergency responders are quick to think on their feet in order to prevent damage in the Seventh District. Read the full article here in the Pipestone County Star
 

 Legislative Update

Emergency Legislation for Social Security COLA Increase

The Social Security Administration recently announced a 1.3% Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries. This is the second-lowest COLA ever granted. Between the years of 1999-2009, the average COLA increase was 3%. Seniors have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic as they’ve spent more money on food, deliveries, pharmaceuticals, personal protection equipment, and utilities. A 1.3% increase is not enough for our seniors, which is why I cosponsored emergency legislation to grant a 3% COLA increase for 2021. Now more than ever, it’s important to make sure Social Security remains strong for the current and future generations of beneficiaries.

For most individuals receiving Social Security, you may view your Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) notice online through your personal Social Security account. Log-in or create an account here. To read more about COLA and how it is calculated, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.  

Questionnaire Results

Back in August, 62% of newsletter respondents said they didn’t think the economy would recover without a Coronavirus vaccine. In last week’s questionnaire, I asked how you felt about the process to guarantee a vaccine is safe once it is approved, this is what you said: 

 

In June, I asked how you felt about the Coronavirus in the United States. In the questionnaire last week, I asked for your thoughts again on the Coronavirus and which statement you felt was most accurate, here is what you said: 
 

 

Earlier this Spring, I asked for your thoughts on the guidance from the federal government for how Americans should best deal with the Coronavirus. In last week’s questionnaire, I asked again if you think the guidance from the federal government for how Americans should best deal with the coronavirus has been clear and effective, here is what you said: 
 

COVID-19 Updates & Resources

Courtesy of Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)

For the most up to date information on COVID-19, visit the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This pandemic challenges our best efforts to stay healthy and safe. If my office can be helpful, please contact my office at 202-225-2165. 

Free COVID-19 Community Saliva Testing in Moorhead
Former Thomas Edison Elementary School
1110 S. 14th Street
Moorhead, MN 56560

Monday, Tuesday, Friday: 12:00 -- 7:00 PM
Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 AM -- 4:00 PM

Testing begins Saturday, October 17. Click here to schedule an appointment

Free three-day COVID-19 Community Testing in Crookston & Montevideo:
Crookston Sports Center
801 Fisher Avenue
Crookston, MN 56716

October 20 – 22, 12:00 – 6:00 PM

Montevideo Community Center
550 1st Street South
Montevideo, MN 56265

October 20 – 22, 12:00 – 6:00 PM

Visit COVID-19 Community Testing to sign up for an appointment or learn more.

Contact Tracing:
If you’ve dined in at a restaurant lately, you’ve probably filled out your contact information. This information is used to contact patrons if a positive COVID-19 case was present at the same time. If a positive COVID-19 case were to arise in your community, make sure to answer telephone calls from public health contact tracers. See Tracing COVID-19 for more information.   

  Newsstand

Halloween Safety in the Seventh

Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Halloween is right around the corner, protect your kids and grandkids by following the recommended tips from the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for a safe Halloween and holiday season. There are still ways to enjoy fall festivities without putting yourself and others in harm’s way. Carve or decorate pumpkins, have a candy scavenger hunt with your kids around the house, visit an apple orchard or find your way through a corn maze. Click here for safe Halloween activities.

If you plan to trick-or-treat, avoid direct contact, and give treats to kids outdoors if possible. Try this: set up a station outside with individually bagged treats for children to take. Make sure to wash your hands before handling goodies and wear a mask. If you are going door to door, make sure to sanitize often.

For more information, see Safe Holiday Celebrations during COVID-19

SBA PPP Forgiveness 

Since its implementation, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has provided critical economic relief for American small businesses. The PPP has supported more than 51 million jobs, provided 5.2 million loans, totaling $525 billion in relief. The Small Business Association (SBA) released a simpler loan forgiveness application for PPP loans at or under $50,000. To ease the burden on PPP lenders, the SBA and Treasury are allowing lenders to process applications faster.

Visit the SBA Paycheck Protection Program Relief for more information.    

Department of Commerce SPRINT Challenge

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Economic Development Administration

The Department of Commerce recently announced a new grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Scaling Pandemic Resilience Through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) Challenge. Through the CARES Act, there is $25 million in available funds, with a $750,000 cap per award. The SPRINT Challenge funding will support organizations with the creation, development, and implementation of technology-based economic development.

For more information about this opportunity or how to apply, reach out to your local regional development commission who works with the EDA regularly. To find the regional development commission serving your community go to www.mado.org 

Grant application deadline: Thursday, December 3.    

This Week in History

Photo courtesy of MinnPost, The New York Times, and Trek Earth

This week in history, the Treaty of 1818 was signed on October 20, 1818, setting the Northern boundary of the United States from the Lake of the Woods in Minnesota along the Rocky Mountains at the forty-ninth parallel. The boundary was previously set during the Treaty of Paris in 1783, extending from Lake of the Woods to the Mississippi River. However, at the time, officials did not realize the Mississippi River was further South and could not reach the boundary line. The Treaty of 1818 created a pene-enclave, which would include the Northwest Angle as territory of the United States. Apart from Alaska, the Northwest Angle is the only part of the United States that lies north of the forty-ninth parallel.

I have heard from many constituents with land in the Northwest Angle who are unable to travel through Canada due to COVID-19. I joined Representative DelBene (D-WA), in writing a letter to the Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, asking to provide flexibility to Americans traveling to the Northwest Angle to visit family or tend to property. Read the full letter here.