Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 1/23/2015

Jan 23, 2015 Issues: Congressional Issues

Fisher, MN

Dear Friends,

Members of the Minnesota Delegation joined me in my office for lunch this week, where we discussed how to best represent Minnesotans in the 114th Congress. The Agriculture Committee also convened to set committee rules. USDA announced this week that it is accepting applications for energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants. Created by the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, these grants help agricultural producers and rural small businesses plan and invest in renewable rural energy systems. Also included in this week’s newsletter are details of the National Agricultural Statistics Service report, EITC tax credit resources, and information about competitive workforce grants.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

MN Delegation Lunch

Representatives Emmer, Kline, McCollum, Nolan, and Walz, Senators Franken and Klobuchar

To kick off the 114th Congress, I invited all of the Members of the Minnesota Delegation to my office for lunch to discuss issues we are hearing about from Minnesotans and how to address them together in the new Congress. The Minnesota Delegation has a history of working in a bipartisan way, and I look forward to continuing this work in the upcoming year.

State of the Union

Representatives Nolan and McCollum

On Tuesday, President Obama delivered his 2015 State of the Union Address to a joint-session in Congress, laying out his legislative agenda and assessment of the nation’s condition. In attendance were members from all branches of government, as well as distinguished guests and members of the military. The President outlined his Administration’s national priorities, emphasizing those with potential for bipartisan compromise. I have long been an advocate for transportation infrastructure investment and the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba. It is my hope that Congress can work together to address these issues with room for bipartisan agreement for the betterment of the 7th.  

Marshall Avera Cancer Institute

Tom Meium, Gordon Crow (Executive Director, Avera Marshall Foundation), Cal Brink (Executive Director, Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce) / Mary Maertens (Regional President and CEO, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center)

After 10 years of planning and fundraising, Marshall’s Avera Cancer Institute opened on November 10, 2014. On Wednesday, my staff aide Tom Meium attended the donor appreciation event and ribbon-cutting ceremony.  The Institute brings state of the art extended radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and complementary care services to patients close to home.  The Marshall Avera Cancer Institute was a long- time dream of the late Don Louwagie, who served many years on the planning committee and the Marshall Avera Foundation board of directors. I am grateful to the many people, community organizations, and businesses who helped bring this much needed resource to the 7th.

Marshall Chamber of Commerce

Jerrid Sebesta (Meteorologist, KARE 11)

On Tuesday, the Marshall Chamber of Commerce held its first speaker series event of the year. Over 150 people, including my staff aide Toni Merdan, attended to hear KARE 11 meteorologist Jerrid Sebesta’s story about chasing his dream. Jerrid gave an inspiring presentation about getting out of debt and how it opened doors to make life altering decisions. 

West Central Workforce Grants

Wendy Merrick (Program Director, West Central Initiative)

On Thursday, staff aide Toni Merdan joined the West Central Initiative in Fergus Falls for an informational meeting on their 2015 Competitive Workforce Grants. These grants are available to 501(c)3 non-profit organizations and units of government in the nine-county region of West Central Minnesota. The grant program provides partial financial backing to entities that are eager to try out fresh, novel ways for supporting people who want to work in West Central Minnesota and provide new workforce development practices.


Agriculture Committee: 114th Congress

I announced the 19 Democrats appointed to serve on the House Agriculture Committee in the 114th Congress this week, including Representatives Walz and Nolan of Minnesota. I look forward to working with both new and returning members on both sides of the aisle to represent the country’s agricultural interests. On Thursday, the Agriculture Committee met to set its rules this Congress.

National Agricultural Statistics Service

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) published its Ranking of Congressional Districts Report, detailing selected agricultural information and statistics by Congressional district. Based on the 2012 Census of Agriculture by Congressional District, the report ranks the 7th District 2nd in the nation in agricultural production figures and farm and operator characteristics.

Energy Audit and Development Assistance

USDA is now accepting applications for energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants. These grants, part of USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, assist rural producers and businesses by conducting energy audits and providing renewable energy development assistance. Comprehensive lists of eligibility and technology requirements are available online, as well as financing information.  

Earned Income Tax Credit Day

As the IRS begins to process returns, it joins local officials and community organizations to promote Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Day on Friday, January 30th. EITC is a refundable benefit that reduces owed taxes for working individuals and couples with low to moderate income. An estimated four out of five eligible workers receive the tax credit, however millions miss it because they fail to claim it when filing. Last year, more than 27 million EITC-eligible workers and families received a combined $63 billion in tax credit. The EITC varies depending on income, family size, and filing status. For eligibility information and an EITC refund estimate, click here.

National Potato Promotion Board

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced 33 appointments to the National Potato Promotion Board this week, each serving a three-year term beginning in March. Newly appointed members, including three from Minnesota, will help the board in its efforts to develop the potato industry and its markets, and conduct important research and promotional initiatives.

Youth Preparedness Council

This week, FEMA announced that its Youth Preparedness Council is seeking applicants for the new year. The Council, which formed in 2012 to promote emergency readiness, involves preparedness-related activities and encourages youth to share perspectives and feedback on how to make the nation more resilient. As national preparedness advocates, councilmembers will complete self-selected projects and partner with FEMA leadership and national organizations in emergency response initiatives. In order to be considered, applicants must submit a completed application form and two letters of recommendation no later than March 2, 2015. The Youth Preparedness Council will announce its new membership in May, 2015.

County Courthouse Tour

Douglas County Courthouse 1876 / Present

After its establishment in 1866, Douglas County court proceedings took place in a small frame building on Main Street also occupied by the Alexandria Post. The widow of William E. Hicks, an Alexandria developer, decided to donate a plot of land for courthouse construction in 1875, provided that the structure cost less than $3,500 and was complete before 1878. County commissioners accepted these conditions, finishing the courthouse in 1877 for $3,447. County auditors soon decided, however, that the low cost of material and labor during the industrial depression warranted the completion of a new, “handsome” courthouse in 1895. The towered brick courthouse, which still serves Douglas County, features oak woodwork and tiled floors.  

This Week in American History

KSJR-FM, known at the time as Saint John’s Radio, began broadcasting from Saint John’s University in Collegeville on January 22, 1967. Devoted to classical music and the fine arts, Saint John’s Radio attracted an audience in Saint Cloud and surrounding Stearns, Todd, Douglass, and Pope Counties. In 1969, KSJR assets were transferred to a community nonprofit corporation which would later change its name to Minnesota Educational Radio, and finally Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). After relocating to St. Paul, MPR expanded its services to include news and helped lay the foundation of National Public Radio as a charter member in 1971. In addition to a 44-station regional radio network that serves more than 9 million people in the upper Midwest, MPR is now the nation’s second largest distributer of national public radio programs. MPR has won more than 875 journalism awards, including the Peabody and Edward R. Murrow Awards.
State of the Union 2015