Rep. Peterson's Newsletter and Questionnaire 10/26/2020
Legislator of the Year Leather Vest
I met with Gary Goracke, the Legislative Director for the American Bikers for Awareness, Training, & Education (ABATE) of Minnesota to discuss important issues with bikers. Through my work on the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus, I have advocated for the motorcycle community and I am honored to be named Legislator of the Year by ABATE Minnesota.
Small businesses across the country are hurting which is why I co-sponsored H.R. 7777, the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act which would provide automatic forgiveness to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under $150,000.
When grass seed producers in the Seventh District reached out to me for assistance with Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments, I took their concerns to Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, highlighting the need to provide assistance to these specific producers who have been affected by the pandemic.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
American Bikers for Awareness, Training, & Education Legislator of the Year
Meeting with Gary Goracke Legislative Director for ABATE of Minnesota
As a Member of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus, I have been proud to champion issues important to bikers, including advocating for H.Res. 255, a resolution encouraging collaboration and communication with the motorcycle community and law enforcement. I’m honored to have been named Legislator of the Year by the Minnesota American Bikers for Awareness, Training, & Education of Minnesota (ABATE). Gary Goracke, of Villard, MN, Legislative Director for ABATE of Minnesota, Inc., recently presented me with this leather vest.
COVID Assistance for Farmers and Ranchers
I continue to hear from producers who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. While the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) has helped many producers, farmers of certain products are still waiting for help. I sent a letter encouraging Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide assistance to grass seed producers who have been affected by the pandemic. As negotiations for additional relief continue, I am fighting to secure relief for our ethanol industry and for folks that had to depopulate livestock when processing plants shut down. It is important that we learn from this experience to prevent similar disruptions from happening again in the future.
Working with Local Governments to Address Issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
My office briefed county officials from across the district to discuss my bills to address local issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). I introduced H.R. 8521, the Landowner Easement Rights Act that would give landowners the ability to renegotiate or buy out of FWS easements and set a 50-year limit on new conservation easements. I also introduced H.R. 8618, the Local Government Taxpayer Fairness Act to allow local governments to collect property taxes on any new land acquired by FWS. Lost property tax revenues and FWS’s slow response to maintenance requests has made conservation projects weigh on our local governments. I appreciate the feedback of local leaders, and I will continue fighting to ensure FWS projects do not come at the expense of schools, police and other essential services.
Looking Forward with AURI
Leaders from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) briefed my office on their future plans last week. They discussed AURI’s areas of focus and their efforts to help farmers and food processors get more out of the commodities they produce. They provided an overview of their 2020 COVID Resiliency Survey that gathered input on the effect the pandemic has had on the agricultural supply chains. AURI is a great source of agricultural innovation and I look forward to hearing more about their work.
H.R. 7777 Paycheck Protection
H.R. 7777, the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act will provide an automatic forgiveness to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under $150,000. Applicants must submit a one-page form with specified expenditure and demographic information. Small business owners and constituents around the Seventh District have asked for my support which is why I am proud to co-sponsor H.R. 7777, the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act.
Read the full bill text here.
Redwood County Board of Commissioners
Videoconference with the Redwood County Board of Commissioners and Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs representatives
Members of my staff joined a virtual meeting with the Redwood County Board of Commissioners and representatives of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss the timeline for construction of the new Veterans Cemetery near Redwood Falls. The goal is to have the cemetery open by Veterans Day 2023 to serve over 22,000 veterans and their families. Veterans from the area asked for my assistance during a town hall in March 2019, and I will continue to work on this issue until the cemetery construction is complete. Click here to read the full press release.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, I asked you how important you think instituting a national testing and tracing program should be relative to other priorities facing the country? This is what you said.
In last week’s questionnaire, I asked if you think the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) should be required to pay full local property taxes on the land they acquire? This is what you said.
I have heard from many constituents who need another round of economic relief. In last week’s questionnaire, I also asked you what size package do you support? This is what you said.
Valley Senior Services: Not-for-Profit of the Year
Since 1971, Valley Senior Services (VSS) has assisted local seniors in a variety of ways. From fostering friendships, reducing malnutrition and isolation, providing transportation, and managing the local Meals on Wheels program, Valley Senior Services has had a tremendous impact on the community. They also help their clients by connecting them to the resources they need, VSS assisted nearly 400 seniors enroll in Medicare Part D and served more than 250,000 meals across six North Dakota counties in 2019.
The Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce has awarded Valley Senior Services with the Not-For-Profit of the Year. I am grateful to their staff, volunteers, and supporters for providing care for our seniors and treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Read the full article in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Blog.
National Co-op Month
The electric co-ops say rain or shine, day or night, we’re here for you and this month we celebrate their hard work during National Co-op Month. The community of Oklee, Minnesota is getting a new substation to replace the 70-year-old one that will be retired. Minnesota and Red Lake Electric crews worked hard to complete it this fall. The existing Oklee substation had reached the end of its useful life and needed to be rebuilt. The new substation will serve Oklee and Red Lake Electric long into the future. A Co-op’s mission is to enrich the lives of their members and serve the long-term interests of their local communities and members. My thanks go out to all the Co-ops and their Members that keep our rural areas alive and the lights on.
COVID-19 Updates & Resources
Courtesy of Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to rise in Minnesota and with the holiday season approaching, now is the time to work together toward beating this pandemic. Visit Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for the most up to date information on the Coronavirus Pandemic and Protect Yourself & Others: COVID-19 for more information on what you can do to help.
The 2020 General Election is nearly one week away. If you have not already voted, the Minnesota Department of Health is encouraging voters to stay safe through voting alternatives. The MDH suggests voting by mail and dropping ballots off at a ballot drop-off location are the safest methods. If you plan to vote in person on election day, wear a mask, try your best to avoid crowds, and stay at least six feet away from other if waiting in line. For more information, see Safe Voting: COVID-19.
COVID-19 Free Saliva Community Testing:
Former Thomas Edison Elementary School
1110 S. 14th Street
Moorhead, MN 56560
Monday, Tuesday, Friday: 12 - 7 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sign up for an appointment or learn more at COVID-19 Community Saliva Testing.
The MDH has also announced that Minnesotans in two dozen counties or tribal nations are now able to order a free at-home saliva test. For more information, visit COVID-19 Test at Home.
MNsure Open Enrollment
The 2021 MNsure open enrollment period will begin November 1 and will stay open through December 22. Nearly 66,000 Minnesotans in the Seventh District benefited directly from the Affordable Care Act, make sure you and your family are covered by signing-up for MNsure.
Go to MNsure.org for more information.
Medicare Open Enrollment
The 2021 Medicare open enrollment is now open until December 7, 2020. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services urges Medicare beneficiaries to review their coverage choices during the open enrollment period. Medicare beneficiaries can compare coverage options and choose which health and prescription drug plans that best meet their health needs in 2021.
The redesigned Medicare Plan Finder makes it easier for beneficiaries to:
• Compare pricing between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies;
• Compare coverage options on their smartphones and tablets;
• Compare up to three drug plans or three Medicare Advantage plans side-by-side;
• Get plan costs and benefits, including which Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits;
• Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that best meets their needs.
Go to Medicare.gov for more information.
National EIP Registration Day
To ensure all qualified individuals receive economic relief, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) set Tuesday, November 10th as National EIP Registration Day to encourage non-filers to apply for an Economic Impact Payment (EIP). If you did not file a 2019 federal tax return, did not get an Economic Impact Payment, or did not register for an Economic Impact Payment already, you may qualify for an EIP.
Use the IRS Non-Filers Tool before the November 21 deadline.
FEMA 10 Tips for CyberSafety
Photo courtesy of the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency
This month is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released ten tips to protect yourself against potential cyber attacks.
The following are things you can do now before a cyber attack occurs:
• Use strong passwords that are 12 characters or longer. Use upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Use a password manager.
• Use a stronger authentication such as a PIN or password that only you would know. Consider using a separate device that can receive a code or uses a biometric scan (e.g. fingerprint scanner).
• Watch for suspicious activity that asks you to do something right away, offers something that sounds too good to be true or needs your personal information. Think before you click.
• Check your account statements and credit reports regularly.
• Use secure Internet communications.
• Use sites that use HTTPS if you will access or provide any personal information. Do not use sites with invalid certificates. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that creates a secure connection.
• Use antivirus solutions, malware and firewalls to block threats.
• Regularly back up your files in an encrypted file or encrypted file storage device.
• Limit the personal information you share online. Change privacy settings and do not use location features.
• Protect your home network by changing the administrative and WiFi passwords regularly. When configuring your router, choose the WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) setting, which is the strongest encryption option.
For more tips and resources to reduce risks, visit the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.
This Week in History
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
This week in history, on October 28th, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated as a gift of friendship from France to the people of the United States. To many Americans, the 151-foot tall Lady Liberty is a symbol of freedom, hope, and liberty.
Views from the 7th
Snowy day in FERGUS FALLS
It may have come earlier than expected but nothing beats the look of fresh snow in the Seventh District.