Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 1/9/2015

Prairie Lake

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! It is an honor to be your Representative in Washington, D.C. during the 114th Congress, which is off to a fast start. This year, I thought it would be interesting for the weekly newsletter to highlight the work done by my staff so that you can learn more about what they do in Minnesota and Washington, D.C. on behalf of the people of the Seventh District. Thanks for keeping in touch and have a great year!


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Welcoming Congressman Emmer
Congressman Emmer

The Minnesota Congressional Delegation welcomed its newest member this week. Representing the 6th Congressional District, Congressman Tom Emmer was previously a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011, and a candidate for governor in 2010. I look forward to collaborating with Congressman Emmer to improve transportation and the dairy industry in Minnesota.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission

CFTC Chairman Timothy Massad

I welcomed Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Timothy Massad to my office this week to discuss the Commission’s oversight of U.S. commodities markets and market trends. We also discussed issues that need to be addressed through the Agriculture Committee’s work to reauthorize the Commodity Exchange Act this Congress.

Association of Minnesota Counties

Julie Ring (Executive Director, Association of Minnesota Counties)

On Wednesday, my staff aide Adam Durand met with Julie Ring, the Executive Director of the Association of Minnesota Counties. They discussed the Association’s 2015 Federal Legislative Platform which covers everything from broadband development in rural areas to the need for a long-term transportation funding bill. The Seventh District is home to 38 of the state’s 87 counties, and they play an important role in delivering critical services that Minnesotans depend on every day. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the association on these and other priorities in the 114th Congress.

Military Matters

Hire More Heroes Act

The House acted quickly on Tuesday to pass the Hire More Heroes Act. Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with 50 or more full-time workers are required to provide health coverage to their employees. The Hire More Heroes Act would make a much-needed change and allow employers to exempt veterans who already receive health coverage through the Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs from full-time employee status. Businesses will no longer be required to provide health insurance to those already receiving it, resulting in greater employment opportunity for our veterans. I was proud to vote for this bipartisan fix to current law which will help our businesses and our veterans.

Legislative Update

Regulatory Accountability Act

In this opening week of Congress, I joined House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in introducing H.R. 185, the Regulatory Accountability Act. This legislation, which was passed in the last Congress as part of a jobs and economic growth package, will increase transparency and accountability while streamlining the regulatory process for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses.

Terrorism Risk Insurance

This week the House reauthorized the Terrorism Risk Insurance program, providing a federal backstop to businesses and individuals across the country in the event of a catastrophic act of terrorism. The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act was originally passed in 2002, in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. The legislation allows the federal government to repay business costs in the event that an attack causes more than $100 million in damage. The House passed a reauthorization of TRIA back in December, but infighting in Congress over this common sense legislation led to a delay in its passage and the program lapsed on December 31. With the House action, the bill should be able to move to the President’s desk shortly. I have consistently supported TRIA, and common sense legislation like this should not be used as political leverage. I am hopeful that the swift bipartisan passage of this bill will set the tone for the new Congress.

Keystone XL Pipeline

The House voted on Friday to approve the construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline. I voted in favor of this legislation because it creates shovel-ready jobs and reduces our dependence on foreign oil. This is a good economic development opportunity that has been waiting State Department approval for six years. In fact, the State Department already concluded that the Keystone XL Pipeline will have no significant impact on the environment. The approval and completion of this jobs-creating infrastructure project is long overdue.

Save American Workers Act

I have heard from a number of my constituents who support some of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act. I also believe that real reforms to the Affordable Care Act are necessary to make this law work better for Minnesotans. That is why I voted in favor of the Save American Workers Act this week. This legislation would re-establish the standard 40-hour workweek and help those employees who lost hours under the 30-hour workweek definition within the ACA. This is one of many reforms that I have advocated after listening to my constituents’ concerns and I look forward to working further on this issue with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the new Congress.

FHA Insurance Premiums

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the government insurer of home loans, will lower its annual insurance premiums from 1.35 to 0.85 percent in order to provide creditworthy families with accessible and affordable mortgage options. This reduction is estimated to save first-time homeowners an average of $900 in annual mortgage payments. Increased opportunity for aspiring homebuyers is also projected to improve the overall financial health of the housing market.


SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative

In order to further small business growth and job creation, the U.S. Small Business Association has announced the continuation of the e200 Emerging Leaders Initiative. This executive-level training series has helped more than 2,400 small business owners develop strategies to expand employment opportunities, increase revenue, and network with peers, city leaders, and financial institutions. Courses will take place at SBA hosting locations (including Minneapolis) and are scheduled to begin in April. Additional application and eligibility information can be found online.

FEMA Flood Insurance Advocate

Recent law authorized the creation of a FEMA Flood Insurance Advocate to help assist property owners and policyholders in protecting against and mitigating flood risk. By coordinating with local officials and community leaders, the Advocate will help increase both response and aid capacity through education and outreach. The Flood Insurance Advocate can be contacted through email, and will release a public phone number within the month.

Celebrating the Arts and Parks

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced a grant initiative designed for projects that promote National Park System through the arts. The NEA “Imagine Your Parks” grant will provide $1 million to better support and protect the country’s cultural and natural treasures, as well as encourage increased cooperation between the Park Service and arts community. Places and landscapes within the National Park System are not limited to national parks, but also include national historic sites, trails, rivers, preserves, and heritage and recreational areas. Projects in all art disciplines are eligible for consideration.

Honoring Service to the 7th

Sharon Josephson (DETROIT LAKES)

Last week, two of my staff, Cherie Slayton and Sharon Josephson, retired after many years of service to me and to the people of Minnesota’s Seventh District. Cherie, who served as my Executive Assistant and my Chief of Staff, spent more than 30 years in government service, coming to work in my Washington office in 1995. She was always a calm and steady voice in what could often be a chaotic environment, and she will be missed by many of my constituents with whom she worked regularly. Sharon began working for me in my district office when I was first elected to Congress in 1990. She very ably served the people of Minnesota's Seventh District, handling nearly every issue and concern that our office faced and, in particular, worked on flooding and water issues that are so important in the Red River Valley. While I’m sad to see them go, I wish both Sharon and Cherie well in their retirement and hope they enjoy spending more time with their families.

County Courthouse Tour

Henderson Community Building / Sibley County Courthouse

Sibley County’s first courthouse, located in Henderson, burned in 1863 along with all early county records. A two-story vernacular, Italianate brick structure replaced the courthouse in 1879, and served the county for nearly 40 years. This structure, which has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places, is now the Henderson Community Building. In 1915, the county seat of Sibley County was relocated to Gaylord, where the new county courthouse was constructed two years later. The current courthouse features a stone exterior with large glass and stained-glass windows, and predominant façade columns. The floors and stairways inside of the courthouse are made of solid marble.

This Week in American History

1788-89 Presidential Election Results

Following the ratification of the Constitution in 1788, the first presidential election in the United States took place on January 7, 1789. Prior to this election, the United States had no chief executive. Under the Articles of Confederation, the national government was headed by the Confederation Congress, which featured several executive departments but lacked an independent executive branch. The immense popularity of George Washington ensured his virtually uncontested victory, earning him the only unanimous election among the Electoral College in United States history.
Winter in Washington