Rep. Peterson's Newsletter and Questionnaire 9/14/2020
Speaking with Kevin Richard Shores in DETROIT LAKES
The House of Representatives is in session this week and I am in Washington, D.C. pushing the priorities of the residents, farmers, and small business owners of Minnesota’s 7th District. I was honored to receive the Minnesota Milk Producers Association’s Legislator of the Year Award for my work to help dairy farmers and the industry.
As a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I collaborated with members of the committee on reauthorizing the Women Veterans Task Force and reviewed 31 bills, 25 related to suicide prevention among Veterans. I met with Kevin Richard Shores, a Gulf War Veteran who is traveling 270 miles by wheelchair to raise awareness for Gulf War Illness/Syndrome.
I met with plant managers from the Green Plains ethanol plant in Fergus Falls to discuss the issues their industry is facing and joined a virtual roundtable with members from the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute on renewable energy and innovation in biofuels.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Legislator of the Year Award
Accepting the Legislator of the Year award from the Minnesota Milk Producers Association
I was honored to receive the “Legislator of the Year” Award from the Minnesota Milk Producers Association. Association Executive Director Lucas Sjostrom said that they usually select a state legislator for this award but noted that “no one has worked harder for the dairy industry over the past year than Rep. Collin Peterson.” The presentation was held at the Sand Hill Dairy of Perham. Minnesota Milk Producers Association Board Members who participated include Bob Dombeck, the owner of Sandhill Dairy, Marin Bozic, Tom Beringer, and Steve Schlangen.
Read more about the dairy award.
HVAC Business Meeting and Legislative Hearing
Videoconference with the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee
On Thursday, I participated in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Business Meeting where we reauthorized the Women Veterans Task Force for the remainder of the 116th Congress. We also held a Full Committee Legislative Hearing to review 31 bills within our jurisdiction. The vast majority of these bills dealt with veteran mental health care and preventing and reducing veteran suicide. Each day, 17 veterans, reservists, and National Guard members die by suicide. This issue has been the top priority of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee this Congress. While we all share the goal of suicide prevention, there are a number of different ideas out there on how to accomplish it. This hearing was a chance to hear from Members and witnesses – including Veteran Service Organization representatives and mental health experts – on these ideas for how we can work to increase access to veteran mental health care and prevent veteran suicide.
20th Anniversary Wheelchair Ride Across Minnesota
Discussing issues facing Gulf War Veterans with Kevin Richard Shores in DETROIT LAKES
I spoke with Kevin Richard Shores “NeSe” on Friday as part of his 20th wheelchair ride across Minnesota to raise awareness for Gulf War Illness/Syndrome. Shores is traveling from Moorhead to the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul for a total of 270 miles to bring attention to the cause. We met in Veterans Memorial Park in Detroit Lakes, where we discussed issues facing Golf War veterans over a cup of coffee. His first ride in 2000 took 11 days but he believes this trip will be much faster thanks to his new wheelchair.
For more information on his journey, visit Roll4US.com.
Green Plains Ethanol in Fergus Falls
Meeting with plant managers at the Green Plains ethanol plant in FERGUS FALLS
I visited the Green Plains ethanol plant in Fergus Falls to see the plant and discuss the industry with plant managers last week. The plant is an important employer within the community and adds value to the corn grown by area farmers. Unfortunately, disruptions from the pandemic have created many challenges for biofuels producers and others in agriculture. I am fighting to secure federal resources to help folks weather these difficult conditions, and I will ensure our agriculture community is included in any new relief legislation.
AURI Renewable Energy Roundtable
Videoconference with the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute (AURI)
During my visit to the Green Plains plant, I joined the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute (AURI) and their Renewable Energy Roundtable partners for a virtual event focusing on Resiliency and Innovation in Biofuels. I updated attendees on the status of coronavirus relief legislation and other issues affecting biofuel producers. We discussed the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the ongoing trade negotiations with Brazil, and the prospects of securing greater access for ethanol. I encourage the Administration to fight for our ethanol producers and restore the tariff-free ethanol trade that existed between the two countries from 2012 to 2017.
Advocating for Red Lake Nation Fisheries
I joined Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith in urging congressional appropriators to clarify the eligibility of Red Lake Nation Fisheries for future pandemic assistance. The CARES Act included $300 million to assist Tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fisheries that were economically impacted by the pandemic. In delivering the program, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chose to limit eligibility to fisheries in coastal states. Congress intended to provide assistance to fisheries across the nation, and the agency should not have left out freshwater fisheries. The fishery is an important part of the Red Lake community and Appropriators should clarify their eligibility in future legislation.
Read our letter here.
TOP: Beth Coleman-Jensen (Executive Director, Minnesota Optometric Association), Rebekah Solem (staff aide) BOTTOM: Dr. Lauren Haverly, O.D. ST. PAUL, Dr. Randy Kempfer, O.D. FERGUS FALLS
Minnesota optometrists with the American Optometric Association participated in a virtual Optometry Day on Thursday, meeting with my staff over Zoom to discuss a number of issues impacting eye doctors. The group thanked me for my support of their legislative priorities, including H.R. 3975, the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act. This bipartisan bill would update the law related to the sale of contact lenses to ensure patients can upload their prescriptions online to make purchases. It also eliminates the use of robocalls in the prescription verification process. The Minnesota delegation also discussed the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and expressed appreciation for my support of programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program which are helping folks get by during the pandemic.
Last week I asked, do you think that International Commissions should dictate new standards that would require Minnesota communities to make expensive upgrades? Here is what you said:
Rural Finance Authority Low-Interest Rate Loans
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Rural Finance Authority (RFA) offers a variety of low-interest loans for farmers and recently cut 1.75% off five of their loan categories. The picture above shows the current interest rates available to Minnesota farmers to aid the impacts of COVID-19. The RFA has invested over $270 million in 2,959 participants to date, visit the Department of Agriculture RFA to find more information on types of loans, if you qualify, and deadlines to apply.
IRS Non-filers EIP
Beginning September 24th, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will send letters to American’s who do not file federal income tax but may be eligible for an Economic Impact Payment (EIP). If you receive this letter or if do not file federal income tax and have not received an EIP, use the non-filers tool on IRS.gov. The registration deadline for non-filers is October 15th.
For more details, see IRS news release IR-2020-203, or in Spanish, IR-2020-203SP.
Track the status of your payment using the Get My Payment tool.
VA Influenza Immunization Clinic
Throughout September and October, the Fargo Veteran Affairs’ Health Care System will host several free drive-through flu vaccine clinics for Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare. To receive your free influenza immunization, wear a mask, bring your Veteran ID card, and wear a short sleeve shirt for easy administration.
If you’ve experienced COVID-19 symptoms, call the Fargo VA at 701-239-3700 before visiting.
Fargo, ND VA Medical Center (2101 Elm St. N):
Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Oct. 7, 15, & 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bemidji, MN VA Clinic (1217 Anne St.):
Oct. 2, 15, and 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Oct. 3 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Fergus Falls, MN VA Clinic (1839 Park St. N):
Oct. 5, 9, and 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Grafton, ND VA Clinic (1319 11th St. W):
Oct. 9, 16, and 30 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Grand Forks, ND VA Clinic (3221 32nd Ave. S, Suite 700):
Oct. 2, 7, and 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, call the Fargo VA HCS Public Affairs office at 701-239-3724.
For questions on eligibility, call 1-800-410-9723, ext 3429
This Week in History
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota North Stars
Twenty-five years ago, on September 16, 1995, Henry Charles Boucha of Warroad was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. Not only did he play for the 1972 U.S. Olympic team, but he also played professional hockey for the Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings. Following his hockey career, he returned to Warroad and served as the coordinator of the Indian Education Department in Warroad Public Schools. Boucha now lives in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and continues to work in American Indian education.