Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 7/2/2015
Lake of the Woods
Though reliable telephone service is a basic communication need, connection difficulties persist in rural areas. This week, I joined Senator Klobuchar and representatives of the telecommunications industry to discuss our ongoing efforts to ensure that businesses, families, and emergency responders have access to quality telephone service. I also led the Minnesota Congressional Delegation in a letter to Canadian officials calling for the exemption of fishing guide fees on the Northern border. Finally, as we celebrate the 4th of July, we recognize the courage and sacrifice of those who exemplify the significance of that historic day.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Senator Klobuchar and I visited with businesses, telephone cooperative executives and the Minnesota Telecom Alliance this week in East Grand Forks to talk about call completion issues in rural areas. Rural consumers are having significant problems receiving long distance calls on their landline telephones. This problem appears to stem from third party "least-cost" routing service providers that connect calls to their destinations at the lowest cost possible. This practice has led to low and unsafe service for many residents in the 7th District. I have cosponsored H.R. 2566, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2015, to help alleviate these issues.
Northland Community and Technical College
Dennis Bona (President) and Carey Castle (Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs)
Senator Klobuchar and I had the pleasure of welcoming Dennis Bona as the new President of Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls this week on his first official day of work. President Bona was previously employed as the President of Kellogg Community College in Michigan. We discussed the role of community colleges in workforce development and federal funding for student aid.
Parish of Sacred Heart
Roger Winter and Father Xavier Ilango (Parish of Sacred Heart Catholic Church)
This week I met with Father Xavier Ilango from the Parish of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Frazee who stopped in to offer thanks for assisting him in his Naturalization process last fall. Father Ilango, a native of India, has served the Assumption Parish in Callaway and Sacred Heart Church in Frazee for 8 years.
This week, I joined host Joe Gill for a live interview on Albany-based KASM Radio. We discussed a range of topics, including EPA regulations, country of origin labeling, and trade legislation.
Summer of Service
Mike Fitzmaurice (Sioux Falls), Darwin Goodspeed (Director, Sioux Falls VA), Jana Miles (Marketing Manager, USPS)
My staff aide Meg Louwagie attended the Sioux Falls VA “Summer of Service” event this week, highlighting individual and organizational VA volunteer opportunities. Special guest and Medal of Honor recipient Mike Fitzmaurice helped unveil the new Medal of Honor stamp at the beginning of the open-house.
Fargo VA Open-House
This week my staff aide Jodi Dey attended the 3rd annual Fargo VA open house and informational fair at the Fargo VA Medical Center. Designed for veterans, families and community members, the event included information related to veteran health services and education, vocational rehabilitation, and minority veteran programs.
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge
Ron Jenson (President, Friends of Tamarac) and Kelly Blackledge (Manager, Tamarac Visitor Center)
Last Friday, my staff aide Toni Merdan joined the Friends of Tamarac and Fish and Wildlife personnel to officially open the new Discovery Center at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge north of Detroit Lakes. The Center will provide a permanent home for the Refuge’s environmental education programs. The majority of financing for the new building was paid for through fundraising efforts of the Friends of Tamarac with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funding most of the external work, such as landscaping, signage and sidewalks. More than 300 donors included individuals, corporate entities, public and private organizations.
Fishing Guide Fees
I led a letter with all of my colleagues in the Minnesota Congressional Delegation this week urging Canadian officials to exempt fishing guide fees on the Northern border. This new fee goes against the long-standing tradition of cooperation between the United States and Canada to encourage these types of guides, and its effect could negatively impact outdoor tourism activities in the region. I am hopeful we can reach a resolution through continued dialogue with the Canadian government to address this issue.
The charter of the Export-Import Bank expired on Wednesday. I supported bipartisan legislation to extend the charter and avoid putting commercial operations in jeopardy and creating uncertainty for our exporters. The decision from House Leadership to allow this program to expire disadvantages American businesses, and it is my hope that this issue will come to a vote.
On-Farm Oil Storage Rules
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it would update the total aboveground oil storage capacity threshold for farms to be subject to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulation to 2,500 gallons, up from the previous threshold of 1,320 gallons. The rule also gives some farmers who have more than 2,500 gallons of storage the ability to self-certify their spill prevention plans to save money. These changes came after Congress directed EPA to reduce regulatory burdens on farmers in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA).
Discovering the 7th
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (BEMIDJI)
National Paul Bunyan Day, celebrated annually on June 28th, honors the legendary giant lumberjack and his companion, Babe the Blue Ox. One of the most popular and recognizable figures in American folklore, Paul Bunyan is credited with forming the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe behind him while walking and with forming Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes with his footprints. The earliest recorded references of Paul Bunyan date to a 1904 editorial in the Duluth News Tribune. The Paul Bunyan Park in Bemidji, considered by some to be his birthplace, features an extensive collection of artifacts dedicated to the characters, as well as towering statues to greet visitors.
This Week in American History
This week marks the centennial anniversary of the establishment of Goodridge. With a rich history deeply rooted in the railroads of western Minnesota, Goodridge exemplifies the pioneering spirit of the 7th District. As we look back on a century of the town’s steady growth, we also look forward to many years of its continued success.
Rena Wilson (FERGUS FALLS)
2015 Congressional Art Competition