Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 10/2/2015
This week, I joined my Minnesota colleagues in support of the Voyagers National Park Clean Water Project. The plan aims to increase water quality and long-term wastewater treatment solutions in the park while creating jobs and boosting economic growth. I am also happy to announce that Northwest Technical College in Bemidji was awarded funds to provide affordable and accessible educational opportunities for area students. Additionally, the Agriculture Committee held a hearing on global food aid and a Subcommittee hearing on agriculture research.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Army Corps of Engineers
I met with Colonel Dan Koprowski, Brett Coleman, and Judy DesHarnais from the St. Paul District office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an update on Army Corps projects in the Seventh district. There are many opportunities for flood protection, water retention and ecosystem restoration throughout the district, and it was good to hear about the Corps’ ongoing work.
Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association
On Wednesday, members of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) came to town to discuss legislation pertaining to vehicle recalls and proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulation on auto loans. One of MADA's core missions is to advocate for the interests of Minnesota's retail vehicle industry. Insight from local business is instrumental in gauging the implications of Congressional action on businesses.
National Air Traffic Controllers
I was glad to meet with Steve Weidner to talk about issues facing air traffic controllers and aviation trends in Minnesota. One of the top issues is to secure a long-term reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration. Whether it is upgrading a radar tower or air traffic control station, the lack of stable policy is making it difficult to make the investments needed to keep our aviation system safe and efficient. I remain concerned that misguided rules from Washington are harming the general aviation industry and are also potentially impacting our country’s future supply of commercial pilots.
Minnesota Rural Electric Association
On Thursday, I sat down with members of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) to talk about the Environmental Protection Agency’s overreaching regulations like the Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rules. These policies make no sense for farmers, ranchers, and Minnesotans alike who depend on affordable and reliable energy to power their farms, homes, and businesses. I applaud MREA and its membership’s work on providing critical energy that is needed for our rural communities to continue to grow.
National Association of Federally Impacted Schools
This week I met with members from the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools to discuss impact aid funding for tribal schools. Many schools on America’s reservations are unduly impacted by the effects of sequestration and we must do everything in our power to ensure these institutions have the funding they need to provide students with a quality education.
Minnesota Credit Unions
This week I met with Mara Humphrey, Chuck Albrect and Kelly McDonough to discuss National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) proposals and the state of credit unions in rural Minnesota. Credit unions often fill the void in areas underserved by banks and I appreciate the work these individuals do to provide credit and liquidity to rural America.
Midwest Food Processors
Nick George of Midwest Food Processors and Alan Poff of Schwan’s were in my office to thank me for passage of the bill H. R. 1599 that takes a commonsense approach to labeling GMOs, and to appraise me of their work on developing nutritious school meals.
Kelliher Elementary School
On Thursday, my staff aides Rebekah Solem and Lisa Shelton met with Billy Lampart, Chef at Kelliher Elementary School, and Justine Nistler, School Nutrition Consultant at Kelliher Secondary School to talk about school nutrition. Billy and Justine were in Washington to receive National Healthy School Awards on behalf of their respective schools. Both schools received bronze awards from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for their work in implementing changes to create healthier school environments. I congratulate them on their hard work and creative efforts in making a number of healthy changes work for their schools.
American Cancer Society
Seventh District residents Dorothy Mae Roof (FERTILE) and Robianne Kay Schultz (PERHAM) visited my office this week to talk about ways Congress can help in the fight against cancer. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3119, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education & Training Act as well as another bill H.R. 1220 which supports cancer screenings. The American Cancer Society also supports increases in research funding for the National Institute of Health. Earlier this year I supported a bill that would do just that, and I am hopeful research to cure cancer and other diseases is an area where we can find bipartisan agreement yet this year.
This week, members of my staff met with a team from Zoetis, a leading veterinary drug and vaccine manufacturer in the United States. They discussed the organization’s antibiotic stewardship efforts to comply with the FDA’s goal to phase out certain classes of antibiotics in farm animals. The team also discussed progress in developing a vaccine for High Path Avian Influenza and will be submitting a proposal to USDA for consideration.
My Staff aides met with representatives of United Fresh, one of the nation’s largest fresh produce supply chain associations this week to discuss child nutrition, federal water policy, and immigration issues. Those in attendance were James Lemke, Robinson Fresh (Eden Prairie, MN), Craig Mack, Robinson Fresh (Eden Prairie,), Nicole Brandt, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN), Deborah Boie, Robinson Fresh (Eden Prairie, MN), Gary York, Robinson Fresh (Eden Prairie, MN), and Danielle Beck with the Russell Group.
Twin Cities & Western Railroad Company
On Tuesday my staff met with Mark Wegner, President of the Twin Cities & Western Railroad Company. Since then I have signed a letter and co-sponsored H.R. 3651, the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act which would provide regulatory relief from a rule requiring certain technology to be installed by the end of this year. Without action, freight and passenger rail customers would see dramatically slower service, impacting the economy of the Seventh District. Efficient and safe rail service is important for farmers and manufacturers and I will continue work to ensure that rules meant to improve safety are implemented in a smart way.
Staff aide Allison Myhre met with Tim Rave and Nicole Venable from Sanford Heath to discuss the 340B program that provides relief from high prescription drug costs. This is an issue that is important to the many critical access hospitals in my district and in rural areas across the country.
Engaging in Early Care and Education
Rob Grunewald (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis)
My staff aide Toni Merdan attended a meeting sponsored by First Children’s Finance and the West Central Initiative in Morris this week to help engage the private sector in early care and education. Many rural communities are facing large shortages of child day care providers, which has added to the difficulties experienced by businesses recruiting employees.
Ag Committee Hearing on Food Aid
The House Agriculture Committee held its third hearing on U.S. International Food Aid Programs Wednesday. The hearing focused on stakeholder perspectives and the work they do around the globe. Partnerships with private organizations, millers and shippers have allowed the United States to deliver more than $80 billion in international food aid since World War II.
Subcommittee Hearing on Research Innovations
The Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research held a hearing Tuesday to highlight research innovations achieved by our nation’s agricultural colleges and universities. Land grant universities play an important role in agricultural research, extension and educational programs. This includes research on ways to help increase productivity, prevent plant and animal disease, improve human nutrition and health, and discover and utilize new technologies.
Voyageurs National Park
I joined Minnesota Congressional Delegation members urging the Army Corps of Engineers to protect water quality in Voyageurs National Park. This project is critical for residents in the rural areas of Koochiching and St. Louis Counties. In addition to the jobs and regional economic impact accompanying this project, it would bring the environmental benefits of increased water quality and long-term wastewater treatment solutions.
Northwest Technical College Grant
Northwest Technical College in Bemidji this week was awarded a $300,000 grant through the Economic Development Administration to support the construction of a technical training center on campus. The center, which will feature a new welding and fabrication lab, will help increase training opportunities for middle- and high-skilled manufacturing trades.
Business owners throughout the District have told me that they have jobs that can’t be filled because of a lack of skilled workers. This grant will allow NTC to provide the advanced skills needed in today’s job environment and continue their work to provide affordable and accessible educational opportunities in a variety of career fields. This will help to keep Minnesota business competitive and support our economy.
The Economic Development Administration, a bureau within the Department of Commerce, awards grants through a competitive process based upon the application’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility, and the availability of funds. I was proud to send a letter in support of NTC’s grant application.
Discovering the 7th
The Bemidji State University Talley Art Gallery, dedicated to former BSU professor Ila Mae Tulley, offers the region access to public art exhibits, collections, and programs. The gallery also supplements the education of BSU students with visiting artist lectures and opportunities to share work with the community.
This Week in American History
Charles M. Schulz / Peanuts Cast (1950)
The Peanuts comic strip, written and illustrated by Saint Paul native Charles Schulz, began national syndication in seven newspapers on October 2nd, 1950. The strip is widely considered the most popular in the history of comics, and with 17,897 published strips, is also arguably the longest story ever told by one human being. At its peak, Peanuts was published weekly in more than 2,600 newspapers with a readership of nearly 355 million in 75 countries and 21 languages.
Victoria Clawson (PAYNESVILLE)
2015 Congressional Art Competition