Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 1/16/2015


U.S. Botanic Garden

Dear Friends,

Strength in the manufacturing sector has always played an important role in the economic growth of the district, state, and our country. This week, manufacturing representatives from the 7th gathered to celebrate and develop a plan to maintain continued excellence in the industry. Several legislative measures passed the House this week, including a bill I introduced to limit excessive federal regulations. I was also happy to see the passage of bills that will fund homeland security and provide resources to prevent veteran suicide. Finally, I am cosponsoring a bill that will support critical access hospitals in our rural communities. Also included in this newsletter is information regarding water storage and retention funding through the Farm Bill, and a Department of Agriculture Program to train the next generation of farmers.

Sincerely,

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Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Regional Conservation Partnership Program

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On Wednesday, I joined USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce that the Red River Valley of the North will receive $12 million through the USDA's Regional Conservation Partnership Program for water storage and retention in the Valley. In the 2014 Farm Bill, I worked hard to develop this program and secure funding to make sure we could get critical water retention projects underway as we try to mitigate the impact of flooding events.

Voyager Industries


Bob Kill (President and CEO, Enterprise MN) / Jon Boutain (CFO, Voyager Industries), Bob Kill, and Gark Suckow (CEO, Voyager Industries)

Voyager Industries, located in Brandon, is a manufacturer of brands such as Voyager Aluminum, Voyager Dock, Titan Deck and Yetti Fish Houses. With 80 employees and 70,000 square feet of warehousing and manufacturing space, Voyager Industries handles jobs from prototype to full aluminum and steel product production. A celebratory event was held at their plant this week on the completion of their ISO 9001: 2008 certification. According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to become certified the organization must demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products that meet customer specifications and comply with regulatory requirements. My staff attended the event on my behalf to congratulate the company and to tour the facilities. 

Enterprise Minnesota


Pat Voyles (Business Growth Consultant, Enterprise MN)

Also on Wednesday, Enterprise Minnesota sponsored a training session for more than 100 manufacturers in the Alexandria area entitled “Creating a Mindset for Strategic Growth.” Attendees heard from local manufacturing representatives about what strategies they were implementing to attract and retain a good workforce and how they could develop leadership competencies to create a culture of continuous improvement within their organizations. Enterprise Minnesota is one of 60 federal Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) organizations nationwide chartered to help medium size and smaller manufacturers compete and grow. 

Captains of America's Road Team


Gary Schmidt (Trucker, Viessman Inc. / FERGUS FALLS)
                 

On Tuesday, my staff aide Natalie Winters met with Gary Schmidt (FERGUS FALLS), nominee for the Captain of America's Road Team award from the American Trucking Association. America’s Road Team was created in 1986 as a national public outreach program to educate motorists and the general public about safety and security on the highway. Gary was one of thirty-one drivers who were named as finalists for their superior driving skills, remarkable safety records, and a strong desire to spread the word about safety on the highway.

Sugar Beet Growers Association

On Monday, my staff aide Allison Myhre met with American Crystal Sugar Board Chairman Robert Green and sugar beet growers from the Drayton factory district at a growers association meeting in Fargo. Allison provided an update from me on the happenings in Congress, and the growers were able to share their comments and concerns with her.

Military Matters

Suicide Prevention for American Veterans

With my support, the House passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act this week. Introduced by Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., this legislation will help stem the epidemic of veteran suicide. This bipartisan bill is nearly identical to H.R. 5059 which passed the House unanimously last December, but failed to see action in the Senate. We must provide our heroes with the care and support they have earned to overcome mental health challenges, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. I was proud to support this legislation to ensure our nation stands behind our brave veterans with compassion and dedication every day.

Legislative Update

Regulatory Accountability Act

I spoke on the House Floor this week in support of H.R. 185, the Regulatory Accountability Act. The bill, which I introduced with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, passed the House by a vote of 250-175. This strong, bipartisan legislation will mitigate excessive and costly federal regulation facing farmers, ranchers, and businesses in the 7th.

Homeland Security Appropriations

On Wednesday, the House passed an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security. I voted for this bill because we need to fund homeland security before the current funds run out at the end of February. Appropriations bills are not the place for political gamesmanship, and that's why I voted against some immigration amendments that were added at the last minute to politicize this bill. Funding security for our country is no time to play politics.

Western Great Lakes Region Gray Wolves

This Thursday, I wrote a letter to the Department of the Interior urging the Secretary to appeal a court ruling last month and return management of gray wolves to the state of Minnesota. Since 2011, the gray wolf population has thrived while remaining under Minnesota management. I have long supported state-controlled wolf population management, which provides a legal avenue to balance safety, economic, and species population issues. I have heard from farmers and ranchers in the 7th District of Minnesota who are concerned about protecting their livestock from predatory wolves.

Critical Access Hospitals

This week, I again added my name as cosponsor again to the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act. We need to do more to improve access to quality, affordable health care in rural areas. The 96-hour condition of payment for Critical Access Hospitals creates additional financial pressures on our health facilities, especially smaller hospitals in rural communities. I support this legislation because it would ease that burden by removing the 96-hour physician certification requirement for payment and recognize the importance of supporting critical access hospitals in our rural communities.

Free Trade with Cuba Act

The Free Trade with Cuba Act, legislation to end the Cuban embargo, was introduced in the House on Thursday. We have a ready-made market in Cuba, just 90 miles off our coast, yet the current embargo gives this market away to other countries, putting American producers at a disadvantage.

Newsstand

Future Farmer Training and Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced $18.54 million in available funding to assist the next generation of farmers. This funding is made available through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. I believe that supporting beginning farmers and ranchers is a win-win for rural America and the entire country. Applications for the FY2015 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grants are due March 13, 2015. Additional information including eligibility is available here.

Fee-Free Days for National Forests and Grasslands

The U.S. Forest Service will waive fees at most of its recreation sites five times this year. The first fee-free day is January 19th, 2015 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The other four fee-free days are February 16th for President’s Day, June 13th for National Get Outdoors Day, September 26th for National Public Lands Day, and November 11th for Veteran’s Day. Minnesota offers some of America’s most pristine outdoor wildernesses to explore including the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge, the Superior National Forest, and the Chippewa National Forest. For more information regarding fee-free trips to recreation sites next Monday, visit Recreation.gov.

County Courthouse Tour


Otter Tail County Courthouse 1919 / Present

After a tornado removed the top two floors of the Otter Tail County headquarters in June of 1919, voters debated whether to replace the structure with a new courthouse, replace the existing building, or wait for construction costs to lessen. The county eventually decided, according to a local newspaper, to construct a temporary roof and “let the matter rest and await developments.” Not long afterward, another windstorm destroyed the temporary roof. In 1920, Judge William Parsons ruled that Otter Tail was officially without a courthouse, enabling county commissioners to approve the construction of the new courthouse in Fergus Falls. Anchored by a curved pediment, the three-story courthouse features a Bedford stone exterior and a mural-decorated rotunda.

This Week in American History


Institute of Science and Letters (St. Paul Auditorium) 1907 / Science Museum of Minnesota

The St. Paul Institute of Science and Letters, an organization dedicated to the “intellectual scientific growth of St. Paul,” was officially incorporated on January 11, 1907. Originally consisting of a series of free lectures, the organization soon grew to a sizeable collection of scientific specimens and artifacts with the help of donations from Minnesotans across the state. Today, the institute is known worldwide as the Science Museum of Minnesota, a public science education center with renowned research, collection, and interactive exhibit facilities. The museum features nearly 2 million artifacts and specimens, an Imax Omnitheater, and numerous resources for teachers to help advance scientific literacy among its many visitors each year.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech Plaque
Lincoln Memorial