Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/9/2018
This was a busy week in Washington with a number of Minnesotans visiting my office to talk about a number of issues including agriculture, law enforcement, transportation, and the environment. The Association of Minnesota Counties hosted their annual breakfast on Wednesday, where I shared my insights on the Administration’s infrastructure proposal and on the current state of the farm bill. I spoke to the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association on Thursday about the need for more resources to combat the opioid epidemic. On Thursday, H.R. 453, the Relief from New Source Performance Standards Act, was passed as part of a package in the House of Representatives. I wrote this bill to bring much-needed regulatory relief to wood heater manufacturers in my district and across the nation by delaying the implementation of Step 2 of the Environmental Protection Agency’s New Source Performance Standards by three years.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Association of Minnesota Counties
I was honored to address county commissioners from across the state at this year’s Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) breakfast in Washington. AMC works closely with the Minnesota delegation to ensure that federal policy allows for effective county government. I provided the group with updates on the President’s infrastructure funding proposal and the farm bill, including CRP and SNAP.
Stearns County Commissioners Jeff Mergen and DeWayne Mareck / (Far right) Renville County Commissioner Bob Fox
Following the breakfast, I met with Stearns County Commissioners Mergen and Mareck to discuss broadband development and highway improvement projects in central Minnesota. We also discussed the need for immediate action to combat the opioid epidemic and expand mental health services. I also meet with Renville Commissioner Bob Fox to talk about programs that are helping to expand broadband access in rural areas and the need to maintain rural development programs.
Wood Heater Legislation
On Wednesday, the House passed my bill as part of a package with a bipartisan vote of 234-180 to delay strict air emission regulations which overburden wood heater manufacturers in the 7th District. Businesses in northwest Minnesota produce some of the most efficient wood heaters in the nation, but the EPA has gone too far in regulating the industry. I look forward to my bill moving through the Senate and ultimately being signed by the President so we can save crucial jobs in rural Minnesota.
Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA)
Speaking to Members of MPPOA / Dave Metsualem, Executive Director of the MPPOA and Jeff Stilwell, President of the MPPOA / Chris Vinton, a Conservation Officer from Perham, presenting me a challenge coin from his department
On Thursday, I met with members of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association to discuss issues facing law enforcement officers and first responders. We had a discussion about the state of policing in Minnesota, national gun control policy, and the problems our farmers and ranchers are facing with wolves throughout the state. I will work to provide law enforcement officers with the tools they need to keep Minnesotans safe, and I commend them for the work they do every day to protect our communities.
Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars
Members of Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) visited Washington this week to advocate on behalf of veterans who have served in conflicts overseas. The group thanked me for my co-sponsorship of the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act, which would help states establish and run veterans treatment courts. These special courts are proven to help veterans who are charged with non-violent crimes get the help they are entitled to. We also discussed the need to fill crucial positions in Minnesota’s VA facilities to ensure that veterans have access to the specialized care they deserve. Minnesota’s VA facilities are some of the best in the nation, and I am working to improve them further by expanding eligibility for the family caregiver program and requiring gender-specific services in every VA medical center.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, St. Louis County Commissioner Frank Jewell
Commissioner Tom Landwehr and County Commissioner Frank Jewell visited my office to talk about the Superior National Forest’s Minnesota School Trust Lands project. This proposal brings in additional revenue for Minnesota’s School Trust and is supported by a variety of stakeholders including St. Louis County, MN DNR, schools districts, timber companies, and conservation groups. In late February, I wrote a letter to the U.S. Forest Service in support of the hybrid land exchange project and highlighted the wide range of local and state support.
Highway 23 Coalition Annual Meeting
On Friday, I was honored to be the guest speaker at the 2018 Highway 23 Coalition Annual Meeting in Cold Spring. I am so impressed at the way both government and private businesses have come together to advocate the need for closing the gaps along Highway 23. To support their efforts I have asked the Minnesota Department of Transportation to classify stretches of Highway 23 as Critical Rural Freight Corridors. If classified this way these stretches will be included in the National Highway Freight Network which was established by the FAST Act and would provide additional federal support for roadway improvement projects. I commend the group for their efforts and will continue to support these important infrastructure projects.
Minnesota School Nutrition Association
On Tuesday, I met with the Minnesota School Nutrition Association. We talked about school foodservice industry, such as Child Nutrition Reauthorization and H.R. 3738, the Healthy Breakfasts Help Kids Learn Act. While neither piece of legislation is under the Agriculture Committee jurisdiction, I reiterated my opposition to block granting child nutrition programs, and agreed to support H.R. 3738 which will remove certain restrictions on using commodities for the school breakfast program. I will continue to support flexibility in school meals and other efforts that will help school food service professionals do their jobs. I thank the Minnesota SNA for their hard work and dedication to feeding our students.
Minnesota Farm Bureau
The Farm Bureau group included: David Beyerl of Kerkhoven, John Chute of Aitkin, Nathan Collins of Murdock, Elizabeth Golombiecki of Morris, Emma Hoversten of Lynd, Tiffany Hulinsky of Burtrum, Leah Johnson of Elbow Lake, Martha Koehl of Morris, Kerri and Matthew Mattson of Kensington, Lisa Roker of Wabasso, Daniel and Wyatt Glessing of Waverly, Carolyn Olson of Cottonwood, and Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap.
I met with a delegation from the Minnesota Farm Bureau on Tuesday to talk about farm bill updates, and other issues affecting Minnesota farmers. We discussed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), dairy, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), immigration and agriculture labor, wolves, and farm safety net programs. As always, it was good to meet with this group, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to support Minnesota agriculture.
Independent Petroleum Association of America
Representatives from IPAA visited to talk pipeline infrastructure and provide an update on crude oil exports. Pipelines remain the safest and most efficient way to transport crude oil and natural gas to the market. I will continue to support an all-the-above energy strategy and boost domestic jobs in the energy sector.
Independent Community Bankers
Rebeca Romero Rainey (Independent Community Bankers, Chief Executive Officer)
I welcomed Rebeca Romero Rainey, the newly elected CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). Rebeca spent her early career with Centinal Bank in Taos, NM, and has developed professionally in the community banking industry. We had a discussion about the priorities facing community banks in the upcoming months. I look forward to working together to refine regulations so community banks can continue their work and serve our rural communities.
Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers
Steve Schreier (Tracy), John and Bernie Dvorak (Webster)
Representatives of the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers visited my Washington office while in town for the annual American Sheep Industry spring fly-in. We talked about the upcoming farm bill and agricultural labor issues, and they shared their support for Wildlife Services funding in the FY19 Appropriations bill. We also discussed risk management tools for the sheep industry, including such as marketing loans. It was good to visit with the group, and I look forward to working together on issues impacting the sheep industry in Minnesota.
Dean Meichsner (Morris), Jeff Swenson (Hoffman), and Dan Perkins (Lowry)
I met with representatives of the Barnes-Aastad Soil and Water Conservation Research Association who voiced their strong support for the research being done at the North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris, MN. The "Soils Lab" is part of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, conducting important research on oilseed crops important for pollinator health, among other accomplishments. I will continue to support the good work being done in Morris, and I commend Barnes-Aastad for their tireless advocacy.
Adams on Agriculture
I was a guest on Thursday morning’s “Adams on Agriculture” to provide an update on farm bill reauthorization in the House. I shared some of my concerns with the current state of negotiations and my support for increasing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres.
Listen to our conversation here.
Minnesota Rural Water Association
This week, the Minnesota Rural Water Association (MRWA) hosted their 34th Annual Water and Wastewater Technical Conference in St. Cloud. With the House in session I was unable to attend, but shared an update from Washington by video. I conveyed my appreciation for all that MRWA and its members do to protect our water sources. MRWA leads the way in providing best practices to our rural communities, collaborating with dozens of organizations to test innovative new methods that make our water safer and our systems more efficient. I will continue to support funding for rural infrastructure and help rural areas protect their water sources. Finally, I extended my thanks to outgoing Executive Director Ruth Hubbard for her leadership over the last 30 years.
Department of Natural Resources Off-Highway Trail Meeting
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hosted a series of public meetings with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and the Minnesota 4-Wheel Drive Association. These meetings were held across northern counties including: Cook, Lake, St. Louis, Itasca, Beltrami, Clearwater, Polk, Red Lake, Pennington, Marshall and Kittson. The DNR is working with local leaders to develop plans for a state-spanning route for highway-licensed, four wheel drive vehicles. The route would go from the east border to the west border in the northern third of Minnesota. There were questions from local elected officials on how this would impact their roads and responsibilities.
The Minnesota DNR is encouraging the public to share their suggestions for the route by contacting Mary Straka, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Trails Division, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, Minnesota 55155.
American Israel Public Affairs Committee
Minnesota Members of AIPAC visited with several of my staff aides to encourage the continuation of a strong U.S.-Israel alliance. Iran is a constant agitator in the region and it is important that U.S. foreign policy continue to punish the Iranian government with economic sanctions. I will continue to stand with Israel as they remain our closest ally in the Middle East.
Great Lakes Commission
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine, State Rep. Jennifer Schultz, State Rep. Paul Torkelson
John Linc Stine is the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner and the Chair of the Great Lakes Commission. He visited Washington along with State Reps. Jennifer Schultz and Paul Torkelson to talk about restoration and economic revitalization of the Great Lakes. The port at Duluth and Lake Superior provide a vital link to exporting goods from Minnesota to the rest of the world.
University of Minnesota
David Benson (Extension Citizens’ Advisory Committee, farmer, Nobles County), Bev Durgan (Dean, University of Minnesota Extension), Brent Hales (Senior Associate Dean, University of Minnesota Extension), Pat Duncanson (farmer, delegate to CARET, Mapleton), Tom Rothman (Director of Agricultural Stakeholder Outreach, University of Minnesota Extension), Sarah Greening (Chief of Staff, University of Minnesota Extension)
A delegation from the University of Minnesota visited my Washington office this week to discuss federal funding for agricultural research. The group was in town for the 2018 Council for Agricultural Research Extension and Teaching (CARET) annual meeting, joining representatives from land-grant universities across the nation in support of the land-grant university system's food and agricultural research, extension, and teaching programs. I am a strong supporter of Extension and appreciate the delegation keeping my office updated on what they are doing and how agriculture research dollars are being used in Minnesota.
National Barley Improvement Committee
Wade Malchow (MillerCoors, Huntley, MT), Brian Lacey (grower & Minnesota Barley Council Wendell, MN), Debbie Lacey, and Dr. Eric Stockinger (Ohio State University, Wooster, OH)
Representatives of the National Barley Improvement Committee met with my staff this week to discuss research priorities for FY19. They discussed a number of issues, including the negative impact of the USDA-ARS hiring freeze and the need to continue funding for the US Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative. I will continue to support agriculture research and thank them for their advocacy on this important issue.
Rachel Leege (Tri-Societies, Madison, WI), staff aide Rebekah Solem, Ekrem Ozlu (PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Tyler Nigon (PhD Candidate, University of Minnesota)
My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with a delegation representing Tri-Societies on Thursday. Tri-Societies consists of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science of America. The group talked about the importance of ag research being done at the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and specifically the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). They were pleased to hear that I once again signed on to a member letter to appropriators in support of AFRI funding in the FY19 Appropriations bill.
Redwood Area Best Practices Series
(Right) Officer Dana Woodford (Redwood Falls Police Department)
My staff assistant Meg Louwagie attended a presentation hosted by Redwood Area Chamber and Officer Dana Woodford of the Redwood Falls Police Department about the ALICE program that is used in schools during active shooter situations. With an increase in violent acts that target schools, more institutions are implementing the ALICE mode of response which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. Officer Woodford said that most active shooter situations are over in less the five minutes, so schools and business need to be prepared to know how to survive the situation.
Northwest Regional Development Commission
The Northwest Regional Development Commission (NWRDC) is a seven-county regional commission that works with other Minnesota counties on programs for economic development, transportation, and on programs for senior citizens. The Minnesota Regional Development Act of 1969 states the purpose of this commission is to “work with and on behalf of local units of government to develop plans or implement programs to address economic, social, physical, and governmental concerns of each region of the state.” As your Congressman, I am proud of the work NWRDC Board Members do for the people of Minnesota. I support their efforts to promote a better life for the people in their communities.
Saint Cloud Veterans Affairs Health Care Meeting
Meg Louwagie of my staff attended the County Veterans Service Office meeting at the St. Cloud VA and was briefed on staffing changes, opioid reduction, the Whole Health initiative, suicide prevention, and the VA’s pilot program for behavior recovery outreach dealing with dementia.
This Week in American History
Moonseed - Menispermum canadense
On March 6, 1871, the name Lac qui Parle was given to a new county. The name, French for "lake that talks," likely refers to echoes among the bluffs surrounding the lake of the same name. Yellow Medicine County was also formed, named for the root of the moonseed, a plant commonly used by the Dakota as a medicinal herb.
What’s the Story?
This Explore Minnesota briefcase is on display in my Washington, D.C. office. It once contained information about many of Minnesota’s most popular tourist destinations. The tourism industry plays a large role in Minnesota’s economy, generating nearly $1 billion dollars annually in state sales tax, while also employing over 250,000 Minnesotans. Last year, more than 3 million groups from around the world took trips to Minnesota. Our cities, outdoor recreation opportunities, and culture of hospitality make Minnesota a great place visit.