Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/13/2015

Mar 13, 2015 Issues: Congressional Issues, Health, Transportation


Dear Friends,

District work periods provide me with an opportunity to travel the district and visit with constituents about my work in Washington. My meetings with the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes Rotary clubs, and regional hospice providers were an opportunity to address questions and concerns, as well as exchange ideas regarding federal policy that impacts the District. In Washington, my staff discussed agricultural research efforts in the barley and sunflower industries, as well as innovations in transportation systems with members of the National League of Cities and National Bike Summit. Finally, we welcomed the Glencoe-Silver Lake High School during their educational visit to Washington.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Fergus Falls/Detroit Lakes Rotary

Wednesday and Thursday this week, I met with both the Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes Rotary clubs to give an update on the latest happenings in Washington, D.C. I expressed my concern with the lack of bipartisanship in Congress today and my hope for more cooperation among Members of Congress moving forward. At both clubs, the attendees had questions about tax reform, the Affordable Care Act and many other issues. The Fergus Falls Journal wrote about my visit.

SunOpta, Inc.

Bob Teclaw (DirecTor of Facility Maintenance, SunOpta), Steve Bromley (CEO, SunOpta)

I met with officials of SunOpta, Inc. on Tuesday and toured the company’s soy milk facility in Alexandria. SunOpta is a global leader in natural and organic food products with five locations and about 300 employees in the 7th District. Reflecting the growing popularity and consumer demand for healthy foods, the company currently buys products from about 1,000 Minnesota farmers. I was interested in visiting with company officials about pending federal legislation dealing with labeling of organic and non-GMO products. While farmers face a long and costly process to become certified as organic, the demand for organic foods is growing and the potential for increased farm income is promising.

Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association

Last Saturday I met with the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association in Perham and answered questions from more than 50 attendees. The issue on peoples’ minds is wolves. U.S. District Court decision placed gray wolves under federal protection, leaving ranchers without a legal avenue to deal with wolves threatening their livestock. Last Friday I led a bipartisan letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting the Department locate the resources necessary to run depredation programs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. I am also a cosponsor of a bill that would fix this problem by returning control of wolf management to the state. Unchecked wolf attacks need to be addressed immediately.

Southwest and West Central Hospice Providers

Back Row: Joyce Arends, Elise Williams, Kay Peters, Nate Schunke,  Angela Johnson, Mary Beth Potter, Michele Prekker, Maureen Styles, Nicole Jacobson. Front Row: Pat Mellenthin, Becca Baumann, Amy Boettger.

I met with representatives from regional hospice providers who shared information related to the unique challenges of providing hospice services in rural communities. Recruiting and maintaining trained health care workers is of the utmost importance to hospice facilities as they continue to work for better patient care. The hospice providers also emphasized the need for improved care of local veterans. I will work closely with my colleagues in the Minnesota delegation to help address these concerns and improve hospice services for both providers and families.    

Glencoe Close-Up

This week, Richard Lee from my staff met with the Close-Up group from Glencoe-Silver Lake High School. The Close-Up Foundation allows high school students from across the country to visit Washington each year to learn about Congress and the political process, and tour the nation’s Capital. I have been fortunate enough to have met with students from GSL the past few years, but this year was in Minnesota during their visit. They came prepared with a wide range of policy-related questions, and clearly have been paying attention to the current events facing our country. I look forward to meeting with Glencoe Silver Lake students next year, and others as part of Close-Up’s work.

National League of Cities

Steve Nasby (City Administrator, WINDOM)

My staff met with Windom city administrator Steve Nasby this week. Nasby was taking part in the National league of Cities advocacy day. During the meeting, discussion focused on issues impacting local governments and cities like Windom, such as the importance of a 5 year reauthorization of the surface transportation bill for local economies. Tax reform particularly keeping municipal bonds tax free, was also discussed. Municipal bonds are primary means of funding new roads, schools, hospitals and fire and police stations. Steve also gave my staff a status update on the new industrial park and possible expansion plans.

Minnesota Postal Supervisors

Staff aide Richard Lee met with the National Association of Postal Supervisors, or NAPS, to discuss the state of the United State Postal Service. Congresses inaction on this issue has compounded the problems the Postal Service is facing, and we need to act soon to give them the flexibility they need to survive, while maintaining the service standards Americans rely on. I have long advocated for the needs of the Postal Service, and I will continue to do so, while continuing to protect rural communities as negotiations move forward.

American Malting Barley Association

Mike Stranz, Rebekah Solem, Ruth Dill-Macky (St. Paul), Brian Lacey (Wendell), Scott Heisel (WI)

On Tuesday, my staff met with three representatives from the American Malting Barley Association. With a growing demand for high quality and specialized malt for craft brewing, the development of additional disease-resistant barley varieties is extremely important. Federal research efforts ought to be directed toward addressing this issue.

National Sunflower Association

Arthur Ridl (ND), John Sandbakken (ND), Lance Hourigan (SD), Karl Esping (KS), Dale Thorenson (Washington, DC), Kevin Capistran (CROOKSTON, MN)

Rebekah Solem and my Agriculture Committee staff met with the National Sunflower Association during their visit to Washington. They were in town to talk about their agricultural research priorities, including funding for scleortinia research, and crop insurance issues and farm bill implementation.  

American Urological Association

Dr. Matthew Gettman (Byron), Dr. Deborah Lightner (Rochester)

This week my staff aide Natalie Winters met with urologists from Minnesota as part of the annual fly-in for the American Urological Association. One of their biggest priorities is passing long-term Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate legislation this spring. I share their concerns about the way Congress has been kicking the can down the road on this issue with short-term patches, and I am hopeful we can get both sides together to make this work. Another issue of concern is making sure there are enough doctors and specialists in rural areas like the 7th to ensure folks have access to quality health care. That's why I have cosponsored the Training Tomorrow's Doctors Today Act, which would address this issue directly by reforming assistance for graduate medical education, in previous sessions of Congress. While this legislation hasn't been introduced yet in the current Congress, I look forward to its reintroduction.

Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association

My staff aide Zach Martin met with several members of the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) to discuss proposed regulations on existing power plants. I believe the EPA is pushing these new requirements too fast, and one of my concerns is the effect on electricity prices. Consumers rely on affordable rates to keep their lights on during winter nights and houses cool during summer days. I will closely monitor EPA’s actions on this issue as it moves forward.

National Bike Summit

Nick Mason (Deputy Director, Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota)

Minnesota representatives from the National Bike Summit visited my staff on Thursday to outline their efforts in promoting innovative traffic safety. Minnesota is ranked the second most bicycle-friendly state in the nation, with three communities in the 7th specifically recognized for their safe biking environments. Bicycles are important tools for both transportation and recreation, and as a member of the Bike Caucus I look forward to monitoring the Summit’s progress in making transportation systems safer for their use.  

Monsanto Top Producers

Jennifer Frank (FERGUS FALLS), Rich Ratka (Monsanto Top Producer Manager), Grant Christiansen (WILLMAR)

My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with Minnesota growers who were in town as part of a small group of growers from several states organized by Monsanto.  Both Grant Christiansen and Jennifer Frank farm corn and soybeans in the 7th District.  They talked about issues important to their operations, such as concerns over EPA’s Waters of the United States proposal and access to rail service. 


Congressional Art Competition

Submissions for the 2015 Congressional Art Competition are currently being accepted by my office. The winning piece, selected in early May, will help decorate the Cannon Tunnel between the House Office Buildings and the U.S. Capitol for one year. Application, eligibility, and artwork specifications are available online. The deadline for all submissions is Friday, April 24, 2015.

Discovering the 7th

The Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji offers interactive educational opportunities to visitors through its more than 40 scientific and technological exhibits. In addition to live animal, hot air balloon, and tractor displays, the science center also conducts a number of weekly outreach programs and demonstrations designed to promote scientific inquiry and supplement school curriculums.

This Week in Minnesota History

1803 Louisiana Purchase

The Upper Louisiana Territory was formally transferred from France to the United States on March 10, 1804 in accordance with the previous year’s Louisiana Purchase. Much of present-day Minnesota west of the Mississippi River was included in the 828,000,000 square miles bought from France, who had themselves recently acquired the land from Spain.

Visitors from the District

Nathan Carlson (ALVARADO) and Paige Stalboerger (DILWORTH)

Steven, Erin, and Julie Sillers (MOORHEAD), Andy Mack, Ashley Reynolds, and Margo Mack (BEMIDJI)

Carmen Johnson, Krystal, Pamela, and Gretjen Wubben (RAYMOND), Rita Krog (FERGUS FALLS), Jeff and Kathy Wettstein (MOORHEAD)

Lake Lida