Rep. Peterson's Newsletter and Questionnaire 6/8/2020

June 8, 2020
Newsletter

Hope by Heidi Brouwer (RAYMOND)

2020 Congressional Art Competition Winner for Minnesota’s 7th District

Dear Friends,

Protests have continued in the Twin Cities over the death of George Floyd and the disparities faced by people of color, with many throughout the state and country joining in the exercise of their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble. I am encouraged by the peaceful dialogue happening between community members and city and state officials in addressing these underlying issues and have pledged to work with my colleagues to help heal our Minnesota community.

Governor Walz announced that Minnesota will move into the third phase of reopening. Indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment venues will be allowed to open while abiding by certain public health guidelines, like reduced capacity. This is a positive step and I continue to advocate that the State adjusts restrictions regionally, so areas with low rates of infection, like much of Western Minnesota, can safely reopen sooner and start their recovery.

President Trump signed the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act on Friday. I’m glad the Senate and President Trump worked quickly to pass and sign the bill, which I voted for in the House. This new law will remove obstacles for small business owners in Western Minnesota who are seeking loan programs during the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Friday, I sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, urging the Agency to help allow farmers to use previously purchased dicamba products, following a decision by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that would require that farmers immediately cease the use of this herbicide. This ruling couldn’t come at a worse time for soybean farmers because the coming 10 days are the best window for spraying weeds.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced it will grant a contested case hearing on the agency’s draft 401 water quality certification for Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement program. I’m frustrated to see progress on the Line 3 Pipeline held up. These delays impact not just our rural economies and the potential for good jobs, but further stress the condition of the current pipeline that is deteriorating and needs to be upgraded. I am encouraging MPCA to move the project forward as quickly as possible. The project is shovel-ready and it would provide an immediate boost to Minnesota’s rural economy.

I congratulate Heidi Brouwer of Raymond for 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 visit my Facebook page to vote for the “People’s Choice Award” winner for the art competition.

Sincerely,

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Congressman Collin C. Peterson

Minnesota 7th District

2020 Congressional Art Competition Winners

Hope by Heidi Brouwer (RAYMOND)

I am pleased to announce Heidi Brouwer of RAYMOND as this year’s 2020 Congressional Art Competition winner for Minnesota’s Seventh District. For her painting Hope, Heidi will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to see it displayed alongside winners from across the country. This competition fosters the creativity of high school students across the Seventh district, and I always look forward to seeing the art competition entries.

I congratulate Heidi on this accomplishment and thank every student who participated in this year’s competition. The second and third place winners are Lauren Ammerman (RENVILLE) and Keyanna Neisen (CLARA CITY), respectively.

Vote for the People’s Choice Award winner on my Facebook page.

Yak by Lauren Ammerman (RENVILLE); Memories of Grandpa by Keyanna Neisen (CLARA CITY)

Chairman’s Corner

Weekly Ag Stakeholder Meeting

At a weekly meeting with ag stakeholders, Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen announced that Taiwan has sent 100,000 protective masks to Minnesota this week. He said it was a result of the good agriculture trading relationship Minnesota has with Taiwan. This is on top of the 10,000 masks Taiwan has already sent to Minnesota.

Commissioner Petersen also mentioned that 26 grants were made to small meat processors in Minnesota. These grants were mainly made for expansion of facilities and equipment. I encourage rural meat processors to take advantage of these grants to help these businesses. The Ag Department still has more funding available.

There is also some grant funding available for grocery stores. Please check with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. For more information see www.mda.state.mn.us.

Universal Broadband Act 

Reliable broadband is a utility, every bit as necessary as electricity. It’s unacceptable that rural communities have limited, unreliable, or worse yet, no broadband access. In response to these inequities, I recently introduced the Universal Broadband Act with my friend Rep. Don Young (R-AK), along with a bipartisan group of colleagues. The bill secures adequate funding to support the construction of broadband infrastructure in rural and underserved areas without having to increase the national debt.

To learn more about the bill, you can read the press release on my website.

Why Rural Broadband Matters: Rural Communities

Our communities also need broadband to facilitate coming together, especially under the current social-distancing orders. Broadband allows us to connect with friends and family when we cannot be together in person.

Click play to watch video remarks by Pastor Julius Miller

National Input on the Universal Broadband Act

Minnesota Telecom Alliance, President and CEO, Brent J. Christensen 

“The Minnesota Telecom Alliance wants to once again thank Congressman Peterson for his leadership on rural Broadband.  This bill is essential if we are going to sincerely make rural broadband deployment a priority. The current Universal Service contribution methodology is not sustainable and the reforms that Congressman Peterson is proposing is the best hope at fixing this problem.”

Consolidated Telecommunications Company CEO and General Manager Kristi Westbrock  

“Representative Peterson has been committed to ensuring reliable and affordable Broadband is delivered to all rural Americans.  Introduction of the Universal Broadband Act will provide the needed updates to the Universal Services Fund by including broadband, allowing for a dependable and consistent financial funding.  CTC fully supports this bill and appreciates the Representative’s bi-partisan support to correct the digital divide through consistent funding mechanisms and agency collaborations.

American Farm Bureau Federation, President, Zippy Duvall 

“There are more than 19 million rural Americans that lack broadband access. This bill will modernize the Universal Service Fund to help our rural communities bridge the digital divide.”

AIPAC

My staff aide Richard Lee met with national and Minnesota representatives from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to discuss the ongoing state of affairs between Israel and the United States and our commitment to support Israel and peace in the Middle East. I support a continued commitment to our strong relationship with Israel. With so many issues competing for our attention in America right now, it is easy to forget the importance of our relations with nations across the globe and our work to lessen global conflict.

ALS Association

Minnesota advocates from the ALS Association met with my staff aide Rebekah Solem via conference call to hear about the group’s priorities. Kristi Waite (May Township) and Mark Buermann (Prior Lake) shared personal stories of how they came to be connected to the ALS Association. They thanked me for my strong support of ALS research and my co-sponsorship of H.R. 1407, the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act, as well as H.R.4932, the CONNECT Act, which would expand telehealth access. As a member of the ALS Congressional Caucus, I will continue to take action to support individuals with ALS and their loved ones in the fight against ALS.

Questionnaire Results

Last week, I asked you about mask use in response to COVID-19 and making a civic preservation program to ensure safe exercise of the First Amendment. Here’s what you said:

Do you believe the widespread use of masks in public will speed the reopening of our economy?

Do you think there should be a civic preservation program designed to ensure that people can safely exercise their First Amendment right to a peaceful assembly, and ensure that such assemblies keep participants and their community safe?

COVID-19 Updates

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

Stay Safe Enters Phase III

Governor Walz has announced the third phase of the state’s Stay Safe MN plan. The changes will go into effect starting Wednesday, June 10.

Here are the changes:

  • Restaurants can begin offering indoor dining while maintaining social distancing, requiring reservations, and seating no more than 50 percent occupancy.
  • Indoor social gatherings can take place with 10 people or less; outdoor social gatherings can take place with 25 people or less.
  • Gyms, personal fitness and yoga studios, and martial arts may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Indoor entertainment venues, such as theaters and concert halls, can open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Places of worship can increase occupancy rates to 50 percent.
  • Recreational indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys, arcades, and museums may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Personal services, such as salons, tattoo parlors, and barbershops, may open at 50 percent capacity while requiring reservations.
  • Outdoor entertainment venues, such as sporting events, concerts, and theaters may open at 25 percent capacity.

Get Tested

Governor Walz recommends that any Minnesotan who has attended a protest, vigil, or community clean-up get tested for COVID-19.

If you start to feel sick, get tested right away. If you do not feel sick, get tested as soon as you can, but no later than 5-7 days after the event. If the test is negative and you are worried you might have been exposed, get another test 12-14 days after the event, even if you do not feel sick.

Talk to a doctor, local clinic, or Find Testing Locations near you.

Contact Tracing Text Scams

Contact tracing is a key public health tool routinely used to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, in recent weeks there have been reports of scammers impersonating public health workers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers are sending texts that say you came in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Clicking on the link in these text scams could download unwanted software that can access data on your phone or direct you to a site that tries to trick you into revealing sensitive information like your Social Security number, bank information, passwords, or medical information.

Health officials in Minnesota would text someone only after contacting them by phone, so anyone who receives a text message without having already heard from public health officials by phone should ignore and delete the text.

For more information, see Minnesota Department of Commerce and Department of Health Warn Minnesotans of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Scam.

Services for Older Adults

The Minnesota Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the Minnesota Board on aging is providing a searchable listing of services for older adults as we address COVID-19. Find service from across the state, including sources for home-delivered meals, grocery delivery, care coordination, caregiver services and more. This tool provided by the Minnesota

Check out the list at HelpOlderAdultsMN.org.

Business, Labor, & Tax Resources

Here are some resources from Minnesota and federal government agencies.

MN Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED)

MN Department of Labor & Industry (DLI)

MN Department of Revenue

Free tax preparation assistance sites are closed due to COVID-19. Sites are being opened virtually. Find more information on the Department of Revenue website.

IRS Employer Tax Credit

The IRS has created a new flow chart to explain the two new employer tax credits explained on their website here.

View the Employer Tax Credit Flow Chart.

Small Business Development Center Webinars

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) have been hosting weekly webinars surrounding the coronavirus. Previous installments have been about SBDC and COVID-19, marketing during the pandemic, limiting business liability through COVID-19, and most recently optimizing sales.

Watch SBDC webinar on business liability during a health crisis.

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. Additional information and answers to common questions can be found on the IRS’s Economic Impact Payment Information Centerpage.

You can also 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.

UPDATE: With 159 million EIPs totaling almost $267 billion processed, the IRS wants to remind low-income Americans who don’t usually file tax returns to register for a payment by October 15 using the Non-Filers tool.

EIP Prepaid Debit Card

Nearly four million people are being sent their Economic Impact Payment by prepaid debit card, instead of paper check. These cards will arrive in a plain envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services. The Visa name will appear on the front of the card. The name of the issuing bank, MetaBank, appears on the back. Information included with the card will explain that the card is an EIP Card. Learn more at www.eipcard.com.

UPDATE: If your card is discarded or destroyed, call EIP Card Customer Service at 1-800-240-8100 (TTY:1-800-241-9100) immediately and select the “Lost/Stolen” option. Your card will be deactivated to prevent anyone from using it and a new replacement card will be ordered.

U.S. Capitol Historical Society

The Capitol Historical Society has been producing virtual content for students and life long learners to explore the history of the U.S. Capitol. For instance, you can explore free webinars and resources about U.S. History and listen to the new 10-part podcast Shaping History: Women in Capitol Art.

Newsstand

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Webinars

The Minnesota Farm Service Agency (FSA) is hosting two public webinars to discuss the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). CFAP will provide direct financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who had price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.

You can join the Minnesota FSA CFAP webinars through the following links:

Thursday, June 11, 2:00 p.m. (CDT)

Click HERE to join the June 11th 2 p.m. Minnesota Webinar

Or Call 1-636-352-2946, conference ID: 396 525 894#

Thursday, June 18, 10:00 a.m. (CDT)

Click HERE to join the June 18th 10 a.m. Minnesota Webinar

Or call 1-636-352-2946, conference ID: 634 273 319#

Learn more about CFAP.

Minnesota Small Business Profile

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy releases annual portraits of each state’s small businesses. Included in each are snapshots into each state’s small business health and economic activity.

View Minnesota’s profile from the SBA Office of Advocacy.

Time to Enjoy the Outdoors

After two and a half months of home confinement, many people want to get outdoors and enjoy the sun, wind and nature. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources anticipates opening 20 to 30 of its campgrounds at state parks, state forests and recreation areas on June 1 and phase the opening of more in the coming weeks.

Be sure to check the Department of Natural Resources website dnr.state.mn.us for more information before you head out. Be safe, stay healthy and enjoy the great outdoors.