Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 12/12/2014
This week marked the end of scheduled legislative business in the House during 113th Congress. Several decisions were made, including the passage of a spending bill that will fund the federal government through September 2015. It is important that the government gives thoughtful consideration to the allocation of taxpayer funds, but I was disappointed to see the inclusion of controversial policy provisions that could weaken our economy and threaten retirement security. The House also passed legislation that will help provide veterans with expanded access to medical care and suicide prevention resources. Finally, I advocated for the designation of the James L. Oberstar Memorial Highway to honor the memory of my close friend and colleague from the 8th District.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Clay Hunt SAV Act
In order to help stem the epidemic of veteran suicide, the House passed the Clay Hunt SAV Act. If it passes the Senate, this bill will expand veteran peer support and community outreach efforts. The act will also provide online mental health services for our veterans, of whom an estimated 22 commit suicide each day. Our veterans and their families have done so much for our country, and we need to do everything in our power to ensure they have the support needed when they return home.
Veterans Choice Program
The Veterans Affairs Department issued temporary medical benefits to veterans this week, as part of the recently authorized Veterans Choice Program. This program, included in the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, allows eligible veterans with service-related injuries access to non-VA health facilities if they have waited more than 30 days for an appointment at a VA medical center. Additional information about the Veteran Choice Program, including eligibility criteria and registration, is available online or at 1-866-606-8198.
House Omnibus Spending Bill
The House passed a $1.01 trillion spending bill Thursday night that would fund the federal government through September 2015. It is important for Congress to provide the funding for a substantial range of programs and activities, but Congress should not be recklessly legislating on last-minute funding bills. I opposed the bill because it weakens taxpayer protection and caters to Wall Street interests. The bill also expands the role of outside money in campaigns, and makes significant cuts to pensions - threatening the retirement security of Americans across the country.
James L. Oberstar Memorial Highway
This week the House and Senate unanimously passed legislation to recognize former Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar, who passed away earlier this year. I spoke on the House floor in support of this legislation which would honor Rep. Oberstar's memory. Oberstar was a tireless advocate and made sure that the 8th District had a strong voice in Washington. The legacy of Jim Oberstar will live on in Minnesota and across the country for decades to come, and it is fitting to have a section of I-35 in the 8th District named in his memory.
Propane Education and Research Act
Last winter, western Minnesotans faced extremely cold temperatures. A variety of factors including a large, wet harvest followed by unseasonably cold weather conditions led to unusually high propane prices across the country. Many Minnesotans suddenly saw their propane costs spike in order to keep their homes warm. To better prepare for these types of price shocks, the House on Tuesday passed H.R. 5705, the Propane Education and Research Enhancement Act of 2014. The next day, the Senate unanimously passed the bill, and it now awaits the President’s signature. The Act directs the Propane Education and Research Council to develop training programs for propane distributors and consumers on ways to better prepare for similar propane price spikes in the future. I look forward to seeing this signed by the President this year.
House Supports Lock and Dam Investment
On Wednesday, the House easily passed legislation to support lock and dam construction and rehabilitation. A majority of our locks and dams have reached a concerning level of dilapidation. This important investment will ensure that our nation's infrastructure is reinvigorated and sustainable for generations to come, while also supporting the safe and efficient transport of goods to market on great waterways like the Mississippi River.
Holiday Fire Safety
Winter holidays are a time of celebration for many families across the country, but also a time of increased risk of fire. The FEMA U.S. Fire Administration has released home fire educational materials to help families safely cook holiday meals, display decorations, and use heat sources.
County Courthouse Tour
Kittson County Courthouse 1924 / Present
Offered for official use at no charge, court proceedings in Kittson County took place in the Hotel Hallock for nearly 15 years. The county’s first case involved a yoke of stolen oxen. The term of court was completed in two days, after which the attorneys on both sides all went fishing. Other rented locations in Hallock served the same purpose until a formal courthouse was completed in 1896. The three-story brick building, which featured a Romanesque tower and battered-stone basement, was torn down after 70 years of use when the county’s current courthouse was completed in 1965. The current courthouse is a low, one-story brick building, which gradually becomes a two-story building as the plot of land slopes downward.
This Week in American History
National Guard “First Muster,” 1636
The first regiments of the United States National Guard were officially organized on December 13, 1636. As the original English settlements along the Eastern Seaboard began to expand west, citizens continued the practice of forming self-sufficient military units. This militia tradition, the foundation of the oldest military units in the United States, has proven critical to effective community, state, and national defense for nearly 400 years. Citizen-soldiers have courageously served in every major American military conflict since 1637, making the National Guard one of the oldest military service organizations in the world.
Visitors from Minnesota
Jeff Pederson (Wadena)