Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 5/9/2014

Maple Lake in Mentor

Dear Friends,

This week we lost a Minnesota treasure, Congressman Jim Oberstar. We served together in Congress for nearly twenty years, and I respect the tremendous amount of infrastructure work he accomplished for his District, Minnesota, and the nation. He will be missed. I sat down with folks in the transportation, rural electric, and broadband industries to discuss issues important to rural Minnesotans. Wednesday brought a new emergency order from the Department of Transportation for railroads and shippers transporting Bakken crude. The University of Minnesota Extension celebrated an impressive milestone on Thursday, and I also had a pretty good day at this year’s Congressional Shootout competition.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Jim Oberstar
This week we were saddened to learn of the passing of former 8th District Congressman Jim Oberstar. He was a great leader for transportation and infrastructure, and did many good things for his district and all over the country. For years, I looked to him for his tremendous knowledge on transportation and water issues. But Congressman Oberstar was about so much more than transportation. He cared deeply about his district and the people who lived there. Countless times I would personally watch him bring 8th District issues directly to the leadership and to the caucus. He never forgot his roots, his passion was contagious, and his love for his family was deep. Jim Oberstar leaves a remarkable legacy in Minnesota and across the country.

Top Gun

Last year’s Congressional Shootout

This week I participated in the annual Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Congressional Shootout, a trap, skeet and sporting clays competition held in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The competition brings together Members of Congress and members of the hunting and fishing industry for a day of competition and camaraderie. I was pleased this year to win the “Top Gun-Member of Congress” award for being the best shot in the categories of skeet, trap and sporting clays. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to represent the interests of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation in congress, and is closely aligned with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, the largest bipartisan caucus in Congress, of which I am a member.

Minnesota Rural Electric Ass’n

Sitting (L-R)
Bob Ambrose (Great River Energy), Darrick Moe (MREA President & CEO), Steve Arnesen (North Star Electric Co-op), Stacy Dahl (Minnkota Power Co-op), Lynette Nieuwsma (Beltrami Electric Co-op), Ann Ellis (North Star Electric Co-op)
Standing (L-R) 1st Row
Steve Tomac (Basin Electric Power Co-op), Murl Nord (Beltrami Electric Co-op), Bruce Polkinghorne (North Star Electric Co-op), Rick Coe (Beltrami Electric Co-op), Jared Echternach (North Itasca Electric Co-op), Steve Wattnem (Co-op Light & Power), Lorraine Nygaard (North Star Electric Co-op)
Standing (L-R) 2nd Row (Far Back)
Dave Sunderman (BENCO Electric Co-op), Wade Hensel (BENCO Electric Co-op), Roger Winter (Wild Rice Electric), Dan Hoskins (North Star Electric Co-op)

Michael Guetter (DETROIT LAKES), Larry Sollie (LENGBY), Roger Winter (CALLOWAY), and Steve Haaven (MCINTOSH)

I met with members of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) to hear about issues of importance to them, such as their support for international rural electrification programs and their concern about EPA rules. MREA is a service organization representing 44 electric distribution cooperatives and 6 generation and transmission cooperatives, all of which are locally-owned and operated by boards of directors. In Minnesota, rural electric cooperatives cover about 85% of the geographic area of the state and service about 1.8 million people.

MN Lamb and Wool Producers

President John Dvorak (Webster), Melanie Pamp (TRACY), and Jeremy Gieske (New Prague)

On Wednesday I sat down with Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers for their annual fly-in to Washington. We discussed the importance of Wildlife Services, the Grazing Improvement Act, immigration reform, and trade.

Ducks Unlimited

This week I attended the Annual Ducks Unlimited Capitol Hill Dinner and Auction, an annual tradition which benefits the fine work that D.U. has been doing for over 75 years. Ducks Unlimited is an organization comprised of conservationists and hunters alike who work tirelessly to restore wetlands and other habitats that waterfowl like to call home. Their commitment to conservation has been rewarded with rebounding populations of many species of waterfowl and millions of conserved acres of wetlands. I am proud to call myself a member of Ducks Unlimited, and they are shining example of sportsmen’s commitment to protecting the land.


David Kragnes (FELTON)

This week I met with CoBank leaders David Kragnes and Andrew Jacob to discuss the Farm Credit system and all they do to provide credit to rural America. The farm credit system has provided rural Americans the financing they need, and has become an invaluable tool to ensure crops make it into the ground.

Communications Workers of America

I met with Minnesota members of the Communications Workers of America to discuss telecom policy and broadband issues in rural areas.

Felling Trailers

Patrick Jennissen (SAUK CENTRE)

On Thursday I met with Patrick Jennissen of Felling Trailers. He was in town with the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers to discuss issues important to their industry, including safety regulations and surface transportation legislation. We need to get serious about the concerning depletion of the highway trust fund and work together on long-term reforms that ensure that our nation's transportation network is held to a standard we can be proud of rather than kicking the can down the road with a short-term solution.

Connect MN

Danna Mackenzie (Grand Marais), William Hoffman (St. Paul), and Tom Koutsky (Washington)

I met with Danna McKenzie, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, William Hoffman of Connect Minnesota, and Tom Koutsky of Connected Nation and discussed broadband issues in rural Minnesota. The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development was created in 2013 to direct broadband planning throughout Minnesota. Their goal is to ensure that the state's internet service is among the nation's best and can keep pace with the growing demand of busy Minnesotans.
Thursday, May 8th marked the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, which created Extension. One hundred years after it became law, the Smith-Lever Act continues to play an important role in rural communities across the country. With the 2014 Farm Bill now being implemented, the work of Extension economists and crop and livestock specialists at Land Grant Universities is perhaps more important than ever. These folks do an excellent job in spite of some of the tough budget challenges they’ve recently had to endure.

The Smith-Lever Act also formalized 4-H Clubs to carry out the Cooperative Extension System’s nationwide youth development program. Like many Minnesotans, I was active in 4-H and these clubs continue to do great work. Looking ahead, I hope that we can work with 4-H and the Extension Service, along with local companies, technical colleges, and Land Grant Universities, to help supply workers in rural areas with the skills needed for off-farm job opportunities.

I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of a Congressional Resolution commemorating this special date.

It is interesting to note that Minnesota was ahead of the game, with our University beginning Extension in 1909. You can learn more about University of Minnesota Extension with this video with Bev Durgan, Dean of University of Minnesota Extension. Click here to view the video.

Dept of Transportation
New Emergency Order

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday that it will issue a new Emergency Order and Safety Advisory to all railroads and shippers to take additional safety precautions when transporting Bakken crude oil. The new order will require railroads to alert State Emergency Response Commissions when their trains are carrying Bakken crude oil through their states. These efforts will help ensure the safe travel of crude oil throughout the state of Minnesota.

Washington Monument Reopening

The Washington Monument, D.C.’s most recognizable monument built in honor of our nation’s first president, will be reopening to the public on Monday, May 12th, 2014. After a rare earthquake in the mid-Atlantic region in the fall of 2011, the Washington Monument has been closed for repairs. But after two and a half years of work, public tours will resume at 1:00pm following the reopening ceremony.

EDS Awareness Month

May is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) Awareness Month. EDS is a group of disorders that affect the connective tissue throughout the body, and it is typically inherited by a parent. This produces an abnormality in the protein production of collagen, which gives our tissues strength. Depending on the severity of EDS, the problems can range from mild to life-threatening. Chronic pain and fatigue are common symptoms of EDS, making it a debilitating condition. There is currently no cure for EDS, so May is dedicated to raising awareness of this devastating condition.

This Week in American History
On May 9th, 1918, Orville Freeman is born in Minneapolis. He served as Minnesota’s 29th Governor from 1955 to 1961 and later as the 16th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson Administrations. Freeman was a 1940 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he met his lifelong friend Hubert H. Humphrey. He later passed away at the age of 84 in 2003.  

Visitors from the 7th

Dick and Nancy Nesvold (DASSEL), John and Alex Winter (GLYNDON), Roger Winter (CALLAWAY)

Anna Casperson (WARROAD)
2013 Congressional Art Competition