Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/24/2015
Minnesota Congressional Delegation
Efficiency and sustainability are shared goals in the development of energy policy. I was happy that the House approved bipartisan legislation that benefits both the economy and environment while protecting the needs of energy producers, manufacturers, and consumers. I met with members of the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau this week to discuss risk management tools, and joined representatives of the trucking and construction industries to reaffirm my commitment to investing in our nation’s infrastructure. I was also pleased that my hotdish was awarded 2nd place at the Minnesota Delegation Hotdish-Off. Finally, as the application period of this year’s Congressional Art Competition comes to a close, I would like to thank participating schools and students for sharing their artistic achievements.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish-Off
Representative Kline, Senator Franken, Representative Walz, Emmer, and Ellison, Senator Klobuchar, Representatives Paulsen and Nolan
Every year the Minnesota Congressional Delegation comes together for a friendly, bipartisan gathering centered around a cultural icon of our home state: hotdish. This year, I made a hearty dish that included beef, veggies, and cornbread. Its name, "Suspend the Rules and Pass the Hotdish," was chosen in a nod to a Congressional procedure that acknowledges agreement between parties on the issue at hand. As a co-founder of the Congressional Blue Dogs Coalition, I continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
On Monday I met with Dr. John Clifford, the Chief Veterinary Officer for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the Department of Agriculture. At the meeting we discussed USDA’s response to the avian flu, and ways to improve the response and provide assistance in Minnesota. Avian flu is impacting poultry and egg producers around the world, with Minnesota producers being particularly hard hit. With the virus continuing to impact the region, I will continue to work with USDA and state officials to help get producers back up on their feet. This is a complex problem, and it will not only require continuing direct assistance to producers who have lost birds. More research needs to be done to help contain its spread and we need to strengthen our infrastructure to deal with these types of animal health issues.
Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau
Steve Maulberger (ADM Crop Risk Services), Mike Day (Rural Community Insurance Services), Allen Yeats (American Farm Bureau Insurance Services), Lynn Bydington (ADM Crop Risk Services)
On Wednesday I met with Minnesota representatives from the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau. Among other issues, we discussed the process underway at USDA to link federal crop insurance eligibility with certain conservation programs. I am working to make sure that this process goes as smoothly as it can for farmers in the 7th District.
Minnesota Trucking Association
This week I met with members of the Minnesota Trucking Association to discuss their priorities for the upcoming year. One of the biggest issues Congress needs to address this spring is the surface transportation reauthorization, so we can make sure our roads and bridges receive the funding they need to be safe and efficient routes to market.
National Building Trades Legislative Conference
On Tuesday, I attended a breakfast with the Minnesota union members attending the National Building Trades Legislative Conference in Washington DC. The North American Building Trades Unions are focused on investing in our nation's infrastructure and we had a good discussion about current legislative issues, the Keystone Pipeline and other concerns important to their members.
Senator Bob Lessard
Dan Gunderson, Bob Lessard, Erin Roth, and Derek Gunderson
My former colleague in the Minnesota Senate Bob Lessard visited to talk about a wide range of topics from the avian flu epidemic impacting Minnesota turkeys to the proposed routes for the Enbridge pipeline project. I will continue to work on these issues and will do what’s right for western Minnesota.
Minnesota Bankers Association
This week I met with the members of the Minnesota Bankers Association to discuss banking in the state. We discussed everything from the impact Dodd-Frank regulations have on their everyday operations to the accessibility of credit in the rural economy. I look forward to continue working with the Minnesota Bankers to provide a regulatory atmosphere that both protects everyday Americans and enables them to provide the services that boost economic productivity.
Minnesota Peace Project
Dave Simpkins (SAUK CENTRE)
On Wednesday, I visited with members of the Minnesota Peace Project to discuss the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran and other relevant Middle Eastern affairs.
Air Line Pilots Association
My staff aide Natalie Winters met with members of the Air Line Pilots Association to discuss the importance of protecting U.S. airlines and workers. Recently, I signed a Congressional letter to Secretaries John Kerry and Anthony Fox with more than 200 bipartisan members of Congress supporting the importance of free competition in the airline industry.
On Thursday my staff aide Jodi Dey attended the Veterans Stand-Down in Detroit Lakes hosted by The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV). In attendance were many of the veterans service organizations, the Vet Center Mobile Command, many VA workers, Becker County Food Pantry volunteers, Better Business Bureau Military Program services, Red Cross, Rural MN CEP, Project New Hope and many other veteran service providers. MACV hosts several Stand Downs to bring many services to one location, making them more accessible to veterans who may not otherwise apply for or receive services that they are eligible for. The nation's first Stand Down was started by Veterans Village of San Diego in 1988 in order to assist the region’s homeless veterans, many of whom were veterans of the Vietnam War. Since that first event, the Stand Down concept has been duplicated with events held nationwide each year.
Partners in Policymaking
Last Saturday, my staff aide Jodi Dey was a guest trainer at the Partners in Policymaking Program held in Bloomington on the topic of effective meetings with your elected representative. This life-changing training is a nine-month leadership program for individuals with disabilities and parents of young children with developmental disabilities. Enrollees become knowledgeable, confident and effective advocates for themselves, their children, and others with disabilities.
The program was developed by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities more than 25 years ago. “Graduates report that they gained a greater understanding of disability law and policies and increased their self confidence in advocating for their needs. Many have become leaders in their own communities as they speak up for people with disabilities,” said Colleen Wieck, Executive Director of the Governor’s Council. The program is of no cost to the participant and is offered in almost every state and in many foreign countries. Applications are now being accepted through July 10, 2015 for this and next year’s class.
Hoffman Rural Development
Hoffman, Minnesota Mayor Dennis Satre accepted a USDA Rural Development $1,137,000 loan and $801,000 grant for the city to upgrade municipal wells and wastewater treatment facilities. The award presentation was held on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22. USDA Rural Development is a major source for funding infrastructure for small rural communities.
Economic Development Roadshow
Bob Isaacson (Program Director, Business Finance) and Paul Moe (Program Director, MN Job Skills Partnership)
Two members of my staff attended the DEED Discussion on Minnesota's Economic Development Programs this week. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development held meetings in my district to discuss the programs. Officials from many departments presented information on Business and Community Development, Trade, Broadband Development and how community, businesses and residents can benefit from the programs.
Large Volume Water Heaters
The House passed, by voice vote, S.535, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015. One section of the bill addresses the issue of large-volume grid-enabled water heaters, a common appliance used to heat Minnesota homes. The Department of Energy pulled a waiver for large-volume water heaters from a misguided energy efficiency standard just three weeks before the rule went into place, and I wrote a letter signed by a bipartisan coalition of Members urging the Department to immediately change course. I urge the President to sign this legislation so this problem can be fixed as soon as possible.
Agriculture Committee Update
The Agriculture Committee held two Subcommittee hearings this week. The Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management met Wednesday afternoon to review reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act. The inspections provided by the Federal Grain Inspection Service define and classify grains, as well as assign grades to specify weight and quality requirements. American grain farmers participate in a very competitive world market and foreign buyers should be confident in the process we have in place to ensure our exports are adequately inspected. On Wednesday afternoon the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture also met to review reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act. Mandatory price reporting programs ensure that producers have access to transparent, accurate and timely market information.
The House passed two cyber security bills aimed at increasing cooperation between the government and private companies in combating hackers. The bills would require the companies sharing data, and the government agencies receiving it, to scrub the data for personal consumer information that is irrelevant to a cyber-attack investigation.
Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act
I became a cosponsor of the Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act this week. Under the bill’s biennial budgeting process, Congress would complete its budget resolution and appropriations bills in the first year of each Congress, and conduct much-needed oversight of federal programs in the second year. This process should result in a more comprehensive review of federal spending.
Our budget process is broken and the longer Congress waits to repair it, the worse our nation’s fiscal situation becomes. A biennial budgeting process would provide greater budget stability by eliminating the current ad-hoc appropriations process which creates significant funding uncertainty. Federal departments and agencies would know the availability of resources a full year in advance, providing the ability to plan for the future and implement cost-saving measures to make the most of every dollar. Under the legislation, Congress would also have additional oversight opportunities, with a full year to ensure that federal programs are being run effectively and using their appropriated funds responsibly.
Small Business Excellence and Innovation
Selected annually to honor achievement in small business, the West Central Regional Office of the Minnesota Small Business Development Center (WC SBDC) at Concordia College in Moorhead has been named the Minnesota SBDC Center of Excellence and Innovation of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. By providing council and support to small businesses and students, the WC SCBD helps innovate program delivery and management.
Breckinridge Flood Insurance
Senators Klobuchar and Franken joined me in sending a letter to FEMA this week urging the delay of the finalization of the Wilkin County Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) until it incorporates flood protection projects already established in Breckenridge. Adjusting the map in this way will allow Breckenridge families to avoid purchasing unnecessary flood insurance. It is my hope that FEMA will strongly consider our argument and alter the maps to accurately reflect the needs of the county.
Congressional Art Competition
The submission period for this year’s Congressional Art Competition came to a close this week, with students from across the district sharing their original artistic achievements. I appreciate the efforts of our enthusiastic young artists, and look forward to communicating with them as the competition continues into its next phase.
Discovering the 7th
Prospect House / “Cap” Colehour (1882)
Continually inhabited since 1882, the Prospect House and accompanying Civil War Museum displays antiques and collections from a family that established residence in Minnesota following the Civil War. The grounds of the museum, defined by century-old trees and unchanged in furnishing and décor since 1929, were designed by Battle Lake Civil War veteran James Allison “Cap” Colehour. The Prospect House was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, and offers visitors a glimpse of the Civil War’s legacy in Western Minnesota.
This Week in American History
Itasca State Park, the first in the state, was established on April 20, 1891. Preserved within the 32,000 acres of protected land are more than 100 lakes and the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Recreational activities including fishing, birding, biking, skiing, and hiking attract visitors to the park in every season. Located south of Bemidji, Itasca State Park is the nation’s second-oldest state park system.
Visitors from the District
Thomas and Terry Tegels (WINDOM)
William Brady (NEW YORK MILLS)
Visitor Group (THIEF RIVER FALLS, BEMIDJI, BAGLEY, FOSSTON, OGEMA, GARY, DETROIT LAKES, MOORHEAD, CLIMAX, FERGUS FALLS, ERHARD)
Norman County West High School (HALSTAD)