Rep. Peterson's Newsletter and Questionnaire 6/29/2020

June 29, 2020
Newsletter

Visiting Brouwer Berries in RAYMOND

Dear Friends,

I voted for H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill sets out to ban chokeholds and no knock warrants, and would support community-based public safety programs. This bill is a first step in the process to find common ground on legislation to address some of the legitimate issues that have to be dealt with, and there’s no question that people of color have been treated differently. This bill helps respond to some of these issues, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to end these disparities and cycles of injustice. While the policy debate is ongoing, I have been clear that I oppose defunding law enforcement and I do not support lawlessness, violence, or destruction.

I recently joined a bipartisan letter to the Department of Health and Human Services urging the Administration to quickly issue guidance to rural hospitals regarding funds they received in the CARES Act. Without guidance, health care providers can experience Medicare reimbursement reductions and their ability to open. Rural hospitals impact the health of residents and the local economy, and I’m working to make sure they can keep serving these communities.

I also met with the National Association of Homebuilders and joined the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association in their annual meeting. Both groups discussed how their industries have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I discussed the work that I’ve done and am continuing to do in Congress to support them.

Sincerely,

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Congressman Collin C. Peterson

Minnesota 7th District

2020 Congressional Art Competition Winner Visit

Visiting Heidi Brouwer and her family (RAYMOND)

I visited Heidi Brouwer and her family on their family farm, Brouwer Berries, to congratulate Heidi on being named the 2020 Congressional Art Competition Winner for Minnesota’s Seventh District. My office received over 80 submissions for this year’s competition. I encourage you to vote for the “People’s Choice Award” winner for the art competition here.

Hope by Heidi Brouwer

Chairman’s Corner

Livestock & Foreign Agriculture Roundtable

On Thursday, I participated in a hybrid live/virtual roundtable with the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee hosting USDA's Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Mindy Brashears and Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Paul Kiecker to discuss the agency's ongoing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnesota Turkey Growers Association Annual Meeting

I joined the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and the Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council for at their virtual annual meeting. The last few months have been difficult for turkey growers as processing capacity and markets for livestock have fluctuated due to the pandemic. I updated folks on the status of relief legislation being considered by Congress and the path to getting something done. The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act on May 15th that would provide direct assistance to farmers who have struggled during the COVID-19 crisis. The Senate must act to provide this much-needed support for agriculture, and I am ready to work with them to find an agreeable solution.

National Biodiesel Board

Representatives of the National Biodiesel Board shared with my office the important issues affecting soybean and biodiesel producers. During the call, they discussed the need to reign in the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of Small Refinery Exemptions that has undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard, and provisions to support biofuels producers that are included in the HEROES Act. They also discussed the need for innovative ways to increase demand for renewable fuels. Increasing access to appropriate fuel infrastructure, and the development of engines optimized for use with higher blends were two of the possibilities discussed.

Supporting Rural Hospitals

I joined several of my House colleagues on a bipartisan letter asking the Administration to quickly issue guidance on how rural hospitals are to account for funds they received in the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, in order to prevent these providers from experiencing Medicare reimbursements reductions. It was not our intent to have any of these funds offset against the reimbursable operating cost of the providers or to impact their future rates. Rural hospitals have an impact on the health of both the residents and the economy of their communities, and I’m working to make sure they can keep serving these communities.

Read the letter about rural hospitals to Secretary Azar.

National Association of Homebuilders

I spoke with members of the National Association of Home Builders to discuss issues facing the construction industry and housing markets in the wake of COVID-19 and increased regulation. We spoke about Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) flexibility, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, and career and technical education (CTE) funding. I will continue to work with homebuilders to address these matters, which are important to rural American and small business.

Amnesty International

Paul Bloom, staff aide Richard Lee, and Lora Randa

My staff aide Richard Lee met virtually with Paul Bloom and Lora Randa, Minnesota Representatives of Amnesty International about safe communities and policing. I appreciate the work they do to support to Amnesty International’s mission to advance human rights across the globe, particularly as we have conversations about human rights issues here at home.

Legislative Update

H.R. 6723, the Universal Broadband Act

Click play to watch this video on the Universal Service Fund

Reliable broadband is a necessity to every American. That’s why I introduced H.R. 6723, the Universal Broadband Act. This bipartisan legislation secures the needed funding for those working hard to provide broadband services to rural America. Access to affordable and reliable broadband is no longer a privilege, it is a right that all Americans deserve.

Watch this video created by CoBank to understand the need for USF contribution reform.

Learn more about the Universal Broadband Act.

 

Questionnaire Results

Last week, I asked you about the U.S. response to COVID-19. Here’s what you said:

Overall, how well do you think the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic compares to that of other countries?

Thief River Falls Flood Project

Photo from Red River Watershed Management Board

In Thief River Falls, construction on a long-awaited Flood Damage Reduction (FDR) Project recently began. Several partner organizations have come together to fund a lasting solution to the frequent flooding in the area. It is always great to see examples of our communities rising to meet problems and find solutions.

Funding partners include the City of Thief River FallsRed Lake Watershed District (RLWD)Red River Watershed Management Board (RRWMB)Minnesota Department of TransportationPennington CountyDigi-KeyArtic Cat, the state’s Flood Hazard Mitigation Program, and private businesses, landowners, and homeowners.

Read more from the Red River Watershed Management Board.

76th Anniversary of the GI Bill

The GI Bill celebrated its 76th Anniversary this week. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Education Service Team has accomplished much over the past year, including completing the first year of the VET-TEC pilot program, awarding nearly 2,000 STEM scholarship, and implementing new legislation to alleviate the financial burden for students impacted by COVID-19.  Here are some resources for GI Bill students from the VA Education Service:

Building your Future with the GI Bill

Postcard Series

  • STEM Postcard: Provides helpful scholarship information including eligibility requirements, how to apply and program benefits to GI Bill students in an engaging style.
  • VET TEC Postcard: Highlights program details, and eligibility requirements.
  • Yellow Ribbon Postcard: Details program information such as application steps, and program benefits for GI Bill students looking to attend an Institution of Higher Learning.

COVID-19 Updates

The State of Minnesota has launched a new website staysafe.mn.gov for all guidance created by state agencies to help businesses, organizations, and individuals stay safe while Minnesota continues to open.

Other updates can be found at the State of Minnesota’s COVID-19 dashboard at mn.gov/covid19. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is providing additional updates and Material and Resources for COVID-19 response. To get tested, talk to a doctor, local clinic, or Find Testing Locations near you.

Additional information can be found on my website at collinpeterson.house.gov/covid-19-resources.

Online Tool for Sick, Family, & Medical Leave

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched an interactive online tool to assist workers in determining paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave eligibility pursuant to the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Online resources can also be found on the DOL website.

Use the paid and extended leave eligibility tool.

Unemployment Insurance

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has released an update on the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) program. If you have questions or need assistance, visit uimn.org. If you are having troubles with unemployment benefits, it is recommended that you reach out to your state representative and state senator. Find their contact information here.

DEED has made a formal request to transition to federal funding for unemployment benefits and expects that the state’s UI Trust Fund will go negative in July. Minnesota is not the first state to request federal assistance, and DEED expects that all 50 states will do so. DEED does not expect any delays or changes in benefits due to this transition.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that gives those receiving unemployment an additional $600 payment each week will end in the last week of July. After July 25, unemployment recipients will continue to receive their normal payment but no longer receive the additional $600.

Slam the Scam!

AARP is working with the Social Security Administration to warn about scammers using Social Security in COVID-19 scams. Help “slam the scam” by reporting a Social Security scams to the Office of the Inspector General.

Social Security and other government agencies will never:

  • Call you to request information or payment due to coronavirus or office closures.
  • Threaten to arrest you because of an identity theft problem.
  • Require you to put money into a protected account.
  • Ask you for payment by gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or by mailing cash.
  • Tell you to make up a story to tell your family or bank employees about why you need gift cards or cash.

Watch this free webinar on Social Security scammers from AARP.

Economic Impact Payments

The Economic Impact Payments (EIP), also referred to as stimulus checks or individual rebates, are a major piece of the CARES Act.

Call the IRS EIP phone number at 1-800-919-9835 to find information to frequently asked questions and have the option to speak with a representative. Additional information and answers to common questions can be found on the IRS’s Economic Impact Payment Information Center page, which has recently been updated.

UPDATE: If you haven’t received your EIP, you can initiate an EIP payment trace. Find out more from the IRS.

  • Filers: Check on the status of your EIP by visiting the IRS’s Filers: Get My Payment web-portal. Accessing Get My Payment more than one time per day may lead to getting locked out of the portal with no way to get it unlocked.
  • Non-Filers: For Americans that are not required to file taxes, make sure you still receive your payment by using Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here by October 15. 
  • Social Security & SSI Guide – View the guide for Social Security and SSI Recipients.
  • EIP Prepaid Debit Cards – Some people will be receiving their EIP by prepaid debit card. Learn more at www.eipcard.com.
  • Scams – The IRS urges you to beware of schemes offering you a faster path to your Economic Impact Payment and other phishing schemes. Don’t engage potential scammers online or on the phone. Learn more about EIP related scams.

This Week in History

Engine Shakopee of Minnesota Valley Railroad Company, 1868. Photo from Minnesota History Center.

On this day in 1854, Congress established the principle of offering land grants to railroads. Federal land grants eventually totaled 10 million acres in Minnesota, or about 18% of the state’s land. After Montana, North Dakota, and California, Minnesota has the fourth largest amount land federally granted to railroads.

Views from the 7th

Marion Lake, OTTERTAIL COUNTY

PENNINGTON COUNTY