Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 5/31

May 31, 2013 Issues: Education

Karen Nyberg (VINING) launched into space this week

Read more about the journey of this Otter Tail county native below
Photo courtesy of NASA

Dear Friends,

It was good to visit the Park Rapids area and see how they've really pulled together in response to these terrible fires.  I joined the Crookston community in celebrating their high school graduates at a commencement ceremony last week.  I was proud to nominate two graduating students, Preston Peterson (Willmar) for an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Jacob Letson (Bemidji) for an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.  I know these two fine young men will represent our region with honor as they serve our great nation.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson

Minnesota 7th District

Park Rapids Fires

Ed Patrias and Shawn Sunnarborg of Potlatch Corp. (BEMIDJI)

Last week I surveyed the damage caused by fires in the Park Rapids area.  While the burning is now contained thanks to the hard work of our firefighters and some well-timed rain, the surrounding land was left scorched and barren.  It is estimated that 7,100 acres burned, and the structures destroyed included 12 residences, 3 commercial properties, and 43 outbuildings.  Despite the circumstances, it was good to see the community come together and fight this thing.  Over fifty area fire departments assisted with fire suppression efforts.  Thank you to all who donated their time and efforts, and I will continue to monitor recovery efforts.

Military Matters

Academy Nominations

Left: Preston Peterson (WILLMAR) - U.S. Air Force Academy

Right: Jacob Letson (BEMIDJI) - U.S. Naval Academy

I am pleased to announce that Preston Peterson (Willmar) and Jacob Letson (Bemidji) have accepted appointments to U.S. military academies.

I was proud to nominate Preston for this appointment not only because of his exemplary academic and extra-curricular work over the years, but also for his dedication and hard work for his community.  As a fellow private pilot, I was proud to nominate Jake not only for his academic and extra-curricular activities, but also for his dedication and hard work to achieve his goal of attending one of the service academies. 

Both of these young men have done some impressive work and are on paths to leadership and service to our country.  Congratulations to Preston and Jake and their families for receiving this honor, and best wishes to them at the Academies!

Stolen Valor Act Heads to President's Desk
This bipartisan measure passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives last week and is currently awaiting the president's signature. The bill makes it a federal crime to benefit from knowingly lying about receiving certain valorous military medals and awards. For example, claiming to be a combat veteran on a job application or to receive a government contract set aside for a veterans would be fraud, as would receiving unearned veterans’ disability or health benefits if any of the combat-related awards used to qualify for those benefits were falsely claimed.  Innocent mistakes by a veteran would not necessarily lead to prosecution because the legislation requires the intent to commit fraud.  Maximum punishment would be a fine of up to $100,000 and up to one year in prison for each offense.

Our nation can never fully express our gratitude for all that our men and women in uniform have experienced on our behalf. Their acts of valor helped to ensure the safety and security of our nation. The honor of their awards should never be compromised.

This legislation would protect the Medal of Honor, Service Crosses, Silver Star, Purple Heart and combat badges such as Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Ribbon, and Combat Action Medal.  Congress has been trying to get the bill passed since 2012 when the Supreme Court struck down an earlier law that made it a federal crime to lie about receiving a military medal. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the law interfered with free speech rights under the First Amendment. This bill would make it illegal for anyone to profit from lying about military service.

High School Graduation in Crookston

Left: Shaking the hand of graduating senior Justin Burgoz.  Photos courtesy of Calvin Anderson (Crookston Times)

It was good to gather with friends and family and celebrate the Crookston High School Class of 2013.  I joined Principal Jorgensen and their teachers and administrators in congratulating these fine young men and women on all of their hard work and successes over the past four years.  It was inspiring to be with a graduating class at this time as so many other students across the 7th are joining together and facing this next step in their lives.  Our young people will carry Minnesota forward and continually make this the great place that it is.

I wish all the best to the graduating students from across the 7th District this spring.

Farm Meeting

On Thursday, North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer and I met with nearly 80 people in Moorhead to talk about the farm bill and the prospects for passage in the House of Representatives. I expect that the bill will be on the House floor the week of June 17. Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and I are sticking together on the bill we crafted in the committee, and we're hopeful that we can get it passed without too many changes.

Otter Tail County Native is Space Bound

Above: Karen's recent launch.  Photo courtesy of NASA. 

NASA astronaut and Karen Nyberg (VINING) embarked on her second journey into space Tuesday, blasting off to a six-month stay on the International Space Station.

In her hometown of Vining, Minn., about 30 miles east of Fergus Falls, Nyberg’s parents were watching the launch.  At the launch party in Henning, Vining Mayor Jim Wallevand said Nyberg’s career as an astronaut is an example for others who come from rural areas. Vining has a population of fewer than 100 people.

“It just goes to show, no matter how small a town a person comes from, and I mean small, and graduates from a small but good school like Henning, you can go out and become anything or anybody you want to,” Wallevand said.

Before putting away her cellphone, Nyberg composed a final tweet from the ground.  “Time for me to ‘unplug!’ Thanks everyone for well wishes & great interest in what our nations do in space. Will be talking to you from LEO! (Low Earth Orbit),” she tweeted.

Click here to learn more about Karen Nyberg's childhood in Minnesota

Constituents from the 7th

Will Detert, Justin Timm (REDWOOD FALLS), the Jepson Family (HITTERDAL)

Picture was taken while on tour, outside the Old Senate Chamber.

This Week in American History

On May 25th, 1787 in the heart of Philadelphia inside Independence Hall, George Washington was presiding over the Constitutional Convention. The delegates had gathered to discuss how the new American government would legislate, execute, and interpret its laws. Many important proposals were introduced at the Convention. First, James Madison presented his Virginia Plan, which created a bicameral legislature with representation in both houses based on population. Delegates from smaller states thought this system gave larger states too big an advantage. Countering, William Patterson presented his New Jersey Plan, whereby each state would have one single vote in Congress.

In what is now known as "the Great Compromise," the Convention combined these two plans and created our current system comprised of a bicameral legislature with an upper house of equal number of representatives per state (the U.S. Senate), and a lower house with proportional representation based on population (the U.S. House of Representatives). This agreement ultimately led to the writing and signing of the U.S. Constitution in September of 1787.

"Rock Bed"
Matt Andreasen (Frazee-Vergas)
Entry for 2013 Congressional Art Competition