Rep. Peterson's Newsletter and Questionnaire 8/3/2020
House Ag Committee roundtable discussion
In a busy legislative week, I introduced the Remote Recreational Small Business Interruption Program Act to provide relief for seasonal businesses in Minnesota’s Northwest Angle. I am fighting to provide relief for these businesses and doing what I can to help get needed flexibility at the border to provide access to the Angle through Canada.
I joined my colleagues on the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture in a roundtable with U.S. Trade Representative’s Chief Agriculture Negotiator about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and trade with China. Good international trade relationships are essential to American ag producers, and I urged the negotiator to closely monitor the commitments that our trade partners have made.
I attended a full meeting of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to consider twelve bills. All of the bills passed out of committee with bipartisan support. I look forward to the legislation being brought up for a vote on the House floor soon, so we can give our Veterans much needed support.
I attended the Big Stone County Board meeting virtually, along with representatives of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. We discussed water issues that are occurring in the Big Stone area due to irresponsibility on the behalf of federal agencies, which I continue to urge them to address.
Finally, the University of Minnesota has announced the 2020 Farm Families of the Year. Our Farm Families in Western Minnesota make significant contributions to Minnesota agriculture and their local communities. I congratulate all the families honored this year for their work and recognition.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
National Guard Deployment Ceremony
Addressing members of the Minnesota National Guard (ALEXANDRIA)
I attended the deployment ceremony for members of the Minnesota National Guard Unit, Battery C, 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery, who are on their way to Texas for training in preparation for a year-long assignment in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. These soldiers are from throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. As I have traveled through the U.S. and overseas, I have heard about how outstanding the troops are from Minnesota. I'm proud of these soldiers and know that they represent the best of Minnesota.
Roundtable with USTR Chief Agriculture Negotiator Gregg Doud
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture invited U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Chief Agriculture Negotiator Gregg Doud for a roundtable discussion on the status of agricultural trade. We discussed progress on implementing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the Phase 1 agreement with China. It is important that we hold our trading partners to the commitments they made in these agreements, and I urged the Chief Ag Negotiator to monitor Canada’s commitments to the U.S. dairy sector. I also expressed my concern that American agriculture cannot count on China to support their markets. It is important that we maintain a strong trade relationship with China, but producers shouldn’t count on them to be made whole.
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee
I attended a meeting of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to consider 12 pieces of legislation. One bill would end the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ability to charge Veterans interest on debt when it is due to the VA’s own processing delays. The Committee considered a proposal to modify the VA motto to be more inclusive. The revised motto would read, ‘To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.” There was bipartisan support for the change, which would better acknowledge the increasing number of women Veterans. All the bills passed out of the committee with bipartisan agreement. Committee consideration of legislation is an important step in the legislative process, and I hope the House can keep things moving and vote on these bipartisan bills to help our Veterans.
Big Stone County Board
Virtually attending the Big Stone County Board meeting
I participated in a meeting organized by the Big Stone County Board of Commissioners to discuss issues they have been having with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Approximately 50 people attended the meeting in Beardsley, with myself and the DNR and USFWS representatives attending virtually. I understand that there are many concerns on water issues at the state and federal level, and I’m doing all I can to help. I hosted the Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in my district last November so she could hear firsthand about the damage caused when a federal agency fails to act responsibly and abuses their authority in the field. I’m disappointed to hear that little progress has been made since that meeting to address the problems for both landowners and local governments.
H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act
The House unanimously passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). This bill authorizes funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to continue their important work managing our nation’s waterways, including navigation, flood damage reduction, hurricane and storm damage reduction, shoreline protection, and ecosystem restoration. I was glad to see changes to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund cost-share formula that I advocated for included in the bill. Waterway transportation and flood mitigation are both critical to Western Minnesota, and I will continue to support WRDA 2020 as it moves forward.
H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act
The House also passed the Child Care is Essential Act, which I am proud to be a cosponsor of. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further stressed our already over-burdened child care providers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet. Our economy cannot recover without robust and accessible child care. This bill would direct emergency funding to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which would provide an estimated $682 million to Minnesota providers. As we look towards additional COVID relief efforts, we must ensure our child care providers can continue their essential work.
Remote Recreational Small Business Interruption Program Act
I introduced the Remote Recreational Small Business Interruption Program Act to provide relief for seasonal businesses in Minnesota’s Northwest Angel. This part of our district faces unique economic challenges that are a direct result of Canada not allowing U.S. Citizens to transit through Canada on their way to back into the U.S. When those travel restrictions were extended into August, resorts lost the bulk of their summer tourism season. This bill would make forgivable loans available to remote recreational businesses who have lost more than 50% of their revenue between March 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020, as compared with the same period last year. As we continue to grapple with the consequences of the pandemic, we must take all of our industries into consideration, no matter the size.
Last week, I asked you what your priorities were for next COVID relief package and mask wearing. Here’s what you said:
The House of Representatives passed its version of a relief package in May, but the Senate has yet to consider anything. What do you think are the biggest priorities for Congress and the President to address in relief legislation? [Choose Your Priorities]
Testing– Virus testing and tracing
Schools– Assistance for schools
Healthcare–Assitance for the healthcare system
Businesses– Relief for businesses
Unemployment– Unemployment Insurance extension
Housing– Housing/rental assistance
Childcare– Childcare assistance
Broadband– Broadband connectivity
Ag– Assistance for agriculture
Student Loan– Student loan relief
In July the Administration is now saying that it is “patriotic” to wear a mask to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Do you think that people are more or less likely to wear a mask based on their political affiliation?
2020 Farm Families Announced
University of Minnesota has announced its Farm Families of the Year. For over 30 years, the Farm Family Recognition Program has honored farm families throughout Minnesota for their significant contributions to Minnesota agriculture and their communities. I congratulate these folks from Minnesota’s 7th District for being named Farm Families of the Year:
Steve & Kelli Reiner, Hutchinson
Randy & Bev Swenson, Lancaster
Julian & Linda Stusynski, Standquist
Jerry & Ruth Hasnedl, Thief River Falls
Dean & Carla Carlson, Roseau
Tim & Kay Rolf, McIntosh
Ron & Sharon Weiss, Red Lake Falls
David & Sandy Knutson, Clearbrook
Roger & Rita Krause, Baudette
Jim & Linda Koester, Glyndon
Blair & Deb Hoseth, Mahnomen
Bob & Lucy Roberts, Battle Lake
Mark & Kim Buntjer, Long Prairie
Kerby & Stephanie Lund, Brandon
Brian & DeAnn Wehking, Morris
Curtis & Peggy Braun, Wheaton
Nate & Angie Walter, Villard
Noah & Sara Van Beck, Freeport
Wayne Enger, Madison
Robert & Paula Gee, Cottonwood
Paul & Terri Frank, Wood Lake
Paul & Brenda Zeug, Morgan
Curt & Lisa Nachreiner, Fairfax
Greg & Kathy Tweten, Benson
Nick & Christy Bjornberg, Willmar
Terry & Michelle Morrison, Belle Plaine
Jerry & Shelly Delaney, Lake Benton
Jeff & Eunice Boerboom, Hadley
Terry & Sylvia Wolters, Pipetone
Ray & Diane Potter, Jeffers
Jeff & Rachel Koch, Puposky
Marvin & Tammy Frazee, Frazee
Alan & Jackie Webster, Ortonville
Paul & Patee Spray, Milan
Corey & Kris Cervin, Darwin
High Water and Wind at Upper Red Lake
High water around Upper Red Lake
A high water level at Red Lake and strong northwesterly and westerly winds have caused damdage to property around Upper Red Lake. My staff aide LeRoy Stumpf has visited many of these property owners. I will continue to work to make sure folks in these situations get the proper aid and relief to recover.
Aftermath of high winds
Paycheck Protection Program Deadline
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses.
The deadline to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program loan is August 8, 2002.
Small Cities Development Program Applications
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Small Cities Development Program Unit is accepting preliminary proposals, the first stage in the grant application process for eligible activities addressing community needs for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation, rental and/or commercial building rehabilitation or public facility improvements through the Small Cities Development Program (SCDP).
The deadline for proposals is November 17, 2020 at 4:30 PM.
Retirement Distribution Waiver
The Internal Revenue Service reminds seniors and retirees that they are not required to take money out of their IRAs and workplace retirement plans this year.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, waives required minimum distributions during 2020 for IRAs and retirement plans, including beneficiaries with inherited accounts. This waiver includes RMDs for individuals who turned age 70 ½ in 2019 and took their first RMD in 2020.
Individuals in Minnesota and across the country have reported receiving strange packages containing seeds in recent days. Some of the packages are labeled as jewelry and/or have Chinese writing on the packaging. If you happen to receive one of these packages, do not plant the seeds as they could be invasive or otherwise environmentally harmful species. Instead, you should notify the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your name, contact information, and the date the package was received.
Many Minnesotans still need face coverings and may be unable to buy one. If you have spare cloth or materials, consider sharing your time and supplies to donate sewn, homemade masks to those in need in your community. Contact nearby long-term care facilities, your local public health department, or local community organizations like churches, shelters, or non-profits to see if they can accept donations.
This Week in History
Albert Woolson in his army uniform. Enlarged and painted photograph.
Photo from Woolson family archives and Minnesota Historical Society.
On July 31st, 1956, Albert Woolson, the last surviving Union veteran of the Civil War, died in Duluth at age 106. Woolson had enlisted in the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery when he was sixteen, serving as a drummer boy. He was the model for a bronze figure on the Memorial to the Grand Army of the Republic at Gettysburg, although he did not fight there. Woolson moved to Duluth in 1905 and remained active in the GAR for decades.
Photo from Whitman College and Northwest Archives