Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 10/26/2018
Detroit Lakes High School Social Studies teacher Tom Johnson
At a time when divisions between Americans appear so great, lawmakers must lead by example to bring folks together. We must promote civility through our actions and remember that it is in the nation’s best interest for us to work together to address the nation’s challenges. This week, I visited a high school American Government class in my hometown of Detroit Lakes where I enjoyed taking students’ questions and sharing my experience with them. Senator Klobuchar and I gave an update on the Farm Bill to folks at the American Crystal Sugar Company. We also toured Lakeshirts in Detroit Lakes and the Textron/Arctic Cat Facility in Thief River Falls. Local and county officials met with me at the Thief River Falls Airport to talk about future maintenance and expansion projects. The airport is increasingly being used to transport manufactured goods, making it a vital part of the community’s infrastructure.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Detroit Lakes High School Visit
I was excited to meet with Detroit Lakes High School Social Studies Teacher Tom Johnson and his students on Thursday morning to have a wide-ranged discussion. Students from Mr. Johnson’s American Government class wrote letters to me asking all sorts of questions and conveying important issues. After reading through their letters and speaking with Mr. Johnson, I decided to answer their questions in person. I spoke about how I became a Congressman and the duties that it entails. I am very thankful to Mr. Johnson and his class for making time for me and wish the best of luck to the students with their studies.
You can read an article about my visit in the Detroit Lakes Tribune.
Farm Bill Update at American Crystal Sugar Company
American Crystal Sugar Company CEO Tom Astrup, Senator Amy Klobuchar (Photo courtesy of Emily Driscoll and Forum Communications)
Senator Amy Klobuchar and I visited American Crystal Sugar on Sunday to check in on the sugarbeet harvest and to give an update on the Farm Bill. We remain focused on enacting a five-year farm bill before the end of the year. Negotiations in the Conference Committee have been promising, but the fact is that the final bill will have to draw bipartisan support if we want to get it to the President’s desk. I will continue to work across the aisle to reach the agreements necessary to make that happen.
You can read more about this visit in this article from the Bemidji Pioneer.
Textron / Arctic Cat Tour
I was glad to have Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Congressman Roger Marshall of Kansas’s First Congressional District join me at the Arctic Cat Facility in Thief River Falls on Monday. I enjoyed the presentation on the history of Textron and seeing the manufacturing of their Arctic Cat Snowmobiles, ATV’s, and Side by Sides in operation. Arctic Cat employs about 1,600 people in Minnesota, many of them in this facility in Thief River Falls.
Lakeshirts Tour in Detroit Lakes
On Wednesday, Senator Klobuchar and I toured Lakeshirts in Detroit Lakes as part of the Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce’s Tour of Manufacturing. Lakeshirts is a local company that manufactures and designs custom clothing. We were able to see the local company’s facility and learn about its history in Detroit Lakes. Lakeshirts was started in the basement of founder Mark Fritz’s childhood home in Detroit Lakes and has grown to employ over 500 people. All their products are produced in the U.S. and you can find them in stores across the nation.
Thief River Falls Airport Meeting
(Left to right) Joe Hedrik, Rick Trontvet, Darryl Tveitbakk, Don Jensen
I met with local and county officials at the Thief River Falls Airport to discuss the airport’s role in the local economy this week. Recently, this airport has seen increased traffic as more freight is being flown out from local manufacturers, making funding for expansion and repairs a vital issue in this community.
Headwaters School of Music & Arts
I visited Headwaters School of Music & Arts in Bemidji to learn about their mission to share the arts with the community. Students shared their talents with me as Pastor Preston Hoiseth, the School Board President, showed me around. The Headwaters school is a private non-profit school that gives students the chance to take lessons in music, sculpting, painting and other fine arts. As a musician myself, I appreciate Headwaters School work teaching young people about the arts.
Delta Waterfowl Big Stone Lake Area Chapter Dinner
Last week, I joined the Big Stone Lake Area Chapter of Delta Waterfowl in Ortonville to visit with area sportsmen. I always enjoy the opportunity to get together with like-minded sportsmen and women who enjoy spending time in the field as much as I do. I appreciate the work these local conservationists do to create habitat for our migratory bird populations so we, and future generations, can have great hunts for years to come.
Border to Border Broadband
My staff attended the Minnesota Border to Border Conference this week. I continue to hear the need for more access across the district and am working on several initiatives at the federal level to expand broadband to all rural areas including the Office of Rural Telecommunications Act (H.R. 5497) and leading letters to the FCC to increase funding for the Universal Service Fund (USF).
Association of Minnesota Counties District 3 Meeting
The Association of Minnesota Counties, District 3 meeting was held in Viking this week. District 3 includes Kittson, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau Counties. Discussions brought up the Enbridge Pipeline court case, state tax conformity, the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), the opioid crisis, school security, broadband funding, and ongoing issues like transportation funding and state buffer implementation on ditches. Folks also celebrated the retirement of Dr. Joe Bouvette, the District Director, who was a Kittson County Commissioner for 32 years.
Discussing Workforce Issues with Senator Amy Klobuchar
(Left) Andy Martin, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Dr. Dennis Bona, President of Northland Community and Technical College
Senator Amy Klobuchar and LeRoy Stumpf of my staff visited employers and community leaders in East Grand Forks on Monday. The discussion focused on the housing shortage in western Minnesota, the shortage of workers, and the lack of available training opportunities.
Central Minnesota Manufacturers Association (CMMA) Bayer Built Tour
My staff aide Jacki Anderson attended CMMA’s tour of Bayer Built in Belgrade. The tour provided a better understanding of the precise work that goes into the products that Bayer Built produces for contractors and consumers. These opportunities always provide great insights into the needs of employers and their employees as they continue to build successful businesses and create jobs in the 7th District.
Highway 23 Coalition
On Friday, the Highway 23 Coalition held their general membership meeting in Spicer. This growing coalition is raising awareness about the needs and benefits of filling in the gaps along Highway 23, including the four lane expansion. I look forward to working with the Coalition to find federal funding for this project and for other infrastructure projects that are needed around the 7th District.
Northwest Private Industry Council Meeting
The Northwest Private Industry Council, represents seven counties in northwest Minnesota and has a regional plan to “maximize resources to lift up the prosperity of the local community and region.” At a time when so many employers are looking for workers, this meeting addressed the prospects of hiring someone with a past criminal record. Emily Baxter showed the audience a graph (photo on the right) of the federal and state prison population for 1925 to 2015. Policies like mandatory sentencing, three-strikes-and-you're-out, and increased alcohol and drug convictions caused much of this increase. Currently, there are about 1.5 million people in prison in the U. S. While the United States has only 5% of the world’s population it houses 25% of the world’s prisoners at a total cost of $80 billion a year.
Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Kristen Williamson, Laura Perdue, Donna Gjesvold, Andrew Doherty, and staff aide Rebekah Solem
A delegation representing the Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stopped by my Washington office this week to visit with my staff. The group was in town for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference. The meeting focused on malnutrition, which can be difficult to diagnose in part because there is no universally accepted definition. The nutrition professionals in the meeting talked about how malnutrition can contribute to illness and lead to more expensive hospital stays. They also discussed the importance of collaboration in the medical community between doctors, nurses, and professional nutritionists in helping to identify and treat individuals who are malnourished.
National Forest Products Week
National Forest Products Week begins on the third Sunday in October. October 21-27 is a week to celebrate our forests and the many things they contribute to our society. Forest products are sustainable and readily available, making them an important economic resource in rural communities across the country. These products have long been used in manufacturing and construction, but advances in technology continue to find new uses for them. As co-chair of the Working Forests Caucus, I continuously support finding new uses for forest products.
Click here to learn about innovative uses for these natural resources from the U.S. Forest Service.
Farm Bill Update
My staff continues to meet on the farm bill, working to finish the bill as quickly as possible. We are coming to agreement on multiple titles and will have language available for the other farm bill conferees to review when Congress reconvenes in November. In my discussions with farmers throughout the district, many have conveyed to me the importance of finishing the bill before the 2019 crop year. They should know that Chairman Conaway, Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow and I all share the common goal of passing this bill before the end of the year. Nobody benefits from partisan positioning or from delaying until the 116th Congress, so we’re pressing ahead to finish our work.
Combatting the Opioid Crisis
This week, President Trump signed a comprehensive, bipartisan piece of legislation into law to combat the opioid epidemic. Included in the legislation are provisions to expand opioid treatment for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, accelerate the development of non-addictive medications, and increase the use of telehealth services for rural communities. I supported the legislation (H.R. 6) when it passed the House, and hope that Congress will continue to take meaningful and consequential action related to opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Open Enrollment for 2019 Health Care Coverage
The 2019 open enrollment period begins on November 1, 2018 and ends on January 13, 2019. Enrollees can explore their options and learn about available tax credits on MNsure.org. This year, individuals earning up to $48,560 per year and families of four earning up to $100,400 per year may be eligible to save on their premiums. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, premium rates in 2019 are 20% lower than they would be without Minnesota’s reinsurance program, which I organized federal support for in 2017.
2018 Eating Disorders Champion
This week, the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) recognized me as a “2018 Eating Disorders Champion.” The distinction is based on my support for research, treatments, and funding related to eating disorders in the 114th and 115th Congresses.
This Week in American History
On October 26, 1960, Calvin Griffith decided to move his Washington Senators to Minnesota, renaming the team the Twins. The Minnesota Twins are one of two current Major League Baseball teams who once played in Washington, D.C. under the Senators name. The other being the Rangers, whose owners relocated the team to Texas in 1971.
What’s the Story?
When Minnesotans visit my office in Washington, they often ask about the quilt that hangs prominently on the wall as they enter. In 2017, I was honored to accept this Quilt of Valor from members of the Douglas County 4-H Chapter. Quilts of Valor are made to show appreciation for those who served our country in the armed forces and comfort them when they return home. A Quilt of Valor must be constructed of high quality materials and sewn by machine or hand. Quilts of Valor are not given to recipients, rather, they must be awarded. I humbly accepted this quilt on behalf of all of Minnesota’s veterans, and I proudly display it in the front of my Washington, D.C. office.
The Pinsonneault family from Bemidji toured the U.S. Capitol Building with our office this week