Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 7/18/2014

America's First Moon Landing - July 20, 1969
Brumidi Corridors, US Capitol

Dear Friends,

In order to protect the conservation efforts put forth by farmers and ranchers across the 7th, I cosponsored two bipartisan bills to stop the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from expanding the scope of the Clean Water Act. This week, I met with the MN Farm Bureau and MN Corn Growers Association to discuss how best to protect existing soil and water quality practices. I also visited with the AgStar Financial Services Board of Directors to talk about farm credit and insurance programs that benefit rural Minnesotans, and with the MN Administrators for Special Education to determine the needs of our children in special education programs. Also included are legislative measures I took to help improve the lives and ensure the well-being of our veterans.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Pennington County Fair

Today I met with a number of seniors in Pennington County. There are a number of important issues facing seniors, from health care and prescription medicine benefits to protecting important programs like Medicare and Social Security from privatization. I was also honored to meet with Joyce Kron and Dale Svendsgaard, who were honored at the Pennington County Fair as Outstanding Senior Citizens for their service to the community. Whether working with the 4-H or the Lion Club, Joyce and Dale have never stopped working to make their community a better place to live.

Minnesota Administrators for Special Education          

Todd Travis (MORRIS, Director of Special Education), Jill Skarvold (Executive Director, Learner Support Services - MOORHEAD Public Schools), John P. Klaber (Executive Director, Mankato)

The Minnesota Administrators for Special Education, MASE, stopped by my office to discuss the needs of our children in schools and special education in particular. We must continually ensure that our programs are up to speed and afford our children the opportunity to reach their full potential. Hopefully with their efforts we can see legislation move through Congress soon to reauthorize the programs that so many families and their children rely on for a strong and enduring education.

Minnesota Farm Bureau

Kevin Paap (President), Amber Hanson (Associate Director, Public Policy)

I met with Kevin Paap and Amber Hanson of Minnesota Farm Bureau to talk about concerns many farmers have with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules for waters of the United States.  We also talked about recent House votes on tax issues such as Section 179, Bonus Depreciation, and Conservation Tax Incentives, as well as Highway Transportation funding. 

AgStar Financial Services Board of Directors

David Bollman (WI), Rod Hebrink (Interim CEO, Mankato), Spencer Enniga (Chairperson of the Board, FULDA), Wes Beck (St. James), Larry Roumald (Appointed Director, WI)

This week I visited with members of the Board of Directors of AgStar Financial Services, ACA, which is one of the larger Farm Credit associations in the nation, and operates throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. We discussed a wide range of issues related to farm credit and crop insurance programs, and the services they provide to rural Americans and farmers alike.

Minnesota Corn Growers Association

Members of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association stopped by on Wednesday to talk about a variety of issues, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule for the waters of the United States, new technologies in agriculture, crop insurance, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association was founded in 1978 and has more than 6,500 members. According to their website, the mission of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association is to “identify and promote opportunities for corn growers while enhancing quality of life.”

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

Dylan Ekins, Greg Shirley (St. Cloud), Vincent G. Verna

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen came by to discuss issues important to their industry. We discussed the importance of a reliable rail system, positive train control, and responsible oversight of the rail industry when it comes to safety.

Pilot Caucus Reception

Addressing the Pilot Caucus

I attended an event, along with 16 other members of the House, for the Congressional Pilot's Caucus which I co-chair with Republican Congressman Sam Graves. My colleague and I find common ground in our shared passion for flying. In fact, it's one of the easiest ways for me to get around the 7th. I believe strongly in the work this caucus does because it's important to have members in Congress who have experience in the skies working on our transportation policy. Sometimes folks in government try to regulate things they just don't understand, and it's important for those of us who know the industry to speak up and share our experiences.

Legislative Update

Protecting Farmers from Regulations

Red River

I cosponsored two bipartisan bills that would stop the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing their interpretive rule that would expand the scope of the Clean Water Act and create more uncertainty for farmers and ranchers. I have become increasingly concerned about problems with the rule, and especially the failure of the EPA to recognize the value of conservation practices that farmers are doing every day. Farmers and ranchers depend on a clean and safe drinking water supply, and the EPA should not be taking actions to jeopardize a lot of the good conservation work that is being done to improve our soil and water quality. I hope that legislation to address this issue can pass in the House of Representatives soon.  

Agriculture Water Storage and Retention Meetings

This week, staff from my office attended three meetings organized by the Minnesota Farm Bureau and agriculture commodity organizations for farmers who are interested in learning more about how they can use Farm Bill conservation programs to help reduce flooding in the region. With the tools and funding in the 2014 Farm Bill, we now have a historic opportunity to put in place water storage and retention projects to finally bring relief to our region. Click here to listen to a recording I made welcoming farmers to the meeting.  

Military Matters

Veteran’s Healthcare Improvement Act

I cosponsored HR 806, the Veterans Healthcare Improvement Act, which is intended to ensure adequate funding for veterans’ healthcare programs. When Congress enacted advance appropriations for VA Healthcare (VHA) programs it required oversight from the GAO to review the accuracy of the Administration's request. This ensures that the VHA receives the funding needed for veterans healthcare without political calculations.

Veterans Medical Access Act

The VA is required to cover the cost of transportation for veterans requiring medical care for service-connected injuries.  However, the VA does not provide travel reimbursement for blind or catastrophically disabled non-service-connected veterans requiring medical care. That is why I cosponsored H.R. 1284, the Veterans Medical Access Act.  This bill would improve travel benefits for blind and severely disabled veterans by extending travel reimbursements for inpatient care to catastrophically disabled non-service connected veterans with low vision or legal blindness.

Military Spouse Job Continuity Act

As you may know, thousands of our military members receive reassignment orders every year.  These men and women uproot their families and relocate in order to meet the needs of our national defense. In the process, military spouses face tremendous hardship and often have to put their careers on hold. HR 1620, The Military Spouse Job Continuity Act, which I cosponsored, addresses some of the sacrifices made by our nation’s military spouses.  It offers a tax credit up to $500 to any military spouse who has to renew or transfer a professional license due to reassignments. It would help military spouses quickly re-enter the workforce, which eases the stress of moving. 

Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act

Finally, I cosponsored HR 1725. This bill would eliminate the five-year window and allow veterans who served in combat from all military operations to seek treatment for service-connected mental illness, regardless of when their conditions manifest. The Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act would make the services and treatments that are available to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans available to all veterans who have served in combat in previous military operations such as the Second World War, the Korean War, and Vietnam.


Disaster Declaration for Murray and Pipestone Counties

Farmers and ranchers in Murray and Pipestone Counties are eligible to be considered for emergency loans for flooding recovery efforts following the USDA Farm Service Agency’s designation of these counties as primary and contiguous natural disaster areas. For the full press release, click here.

County Courthouse Spotlight

Yellow Medicine County Courthouse 1911/Present, courtesy of MN Historical Society

The Yellow Medicine County courthouse was constructed in Granite Falls after years of dispute regarding the location of the county seat. Completed in 1889, the light brick and stone Romanesque Revival structure sits on land contributed by the residents of Granite Falls, and has been remodeled, modernized, and added to in 1942, 1956, 1967, and 1975. The courthouse was designed by Frederick E. Hoover, and cost $14,768 to build.

This Week in American History

Saturn V Rocket, Apollo 11 Crew, Armstrong on Lunar Surface

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to land on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, as their third NASA crew member, Michael Collins, continued to orbit around the moon. Approximately six and a half hours after landing in the Lunar Module Eagle (one of the three components of the Apollo 11 spacecraft), Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon to perform experiments, collect samples, and photograph every step of their mission. Each photograph was scanned, archived, and made available through NASA’s Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. Additionally, the National Air and Space Museum currently holds more than 400 space artifacts, including the Columbia command module, from the historic Apollo 11 moon landing effort.

Natalie Brouwer (PRINSBURG)
2014 Congressional Art Competition