Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 9/19/2014

The Guardsman, Bemidji

Dear Friends,

This week we honor missing American military personnel and POWs, and I welcomed the Minnesota VFW Legislative Chairman to discuss our mutual concern for veterans on the national level. I also visited with the Association of School Administrators and National Education Association about education in Minnesota. The House Agriculture Committee held hearings on soil health and the SNAP work pilot programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, and members of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association and Minnesota Farm Bureau stopped by to thank me for my leadership against EPA’s proposed Waters of the United States rule. Lastly, Growth Energy awarded me the 2014 Fueling Growth Award, and I was named a Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Independent Business.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Remembering Veterans

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Tom McLaughlin (Legislative Chairman, MN-VFW)

Tom McLaughlin, MN-VFW Legislative Chairman stopped by my office on Wednesday to touch base on veterans' issues and our mutual concern on the national level for Vets. We discussed care at the Minnesota VA medical facilities, how important it is to amend the VFW Congressional Charter to replace the word "men" with the word "veteran" and replace the word "widow" with the words "surviving spouse." Since 1978, when the VFW changed its bylaws to allow women to join, the membership of female veterans continues to grow. Women have leadership roles throughout the organization. It is time to amend the charter to reflect that.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

The third Friday of September is designated as POW-MIA Recognition Day, a day established by Congress when we remember Americans who were captured and held as prisoners of war or are missing in action as a result of combat operations. Thirty-three Minnesotans are still missing, all from the Vietnam War. According to Defense Prisoner Of War and Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), the official count of personnel unaccounted for as of September 9th, 2014 includes 73,536 (not including 6,299 who were buried at sea) from World War II, 7,880 from Korea, 126 from the Cold War, 1,641 from Vietnam, and 6 from the Global War on Terrorism.

Education Minnesota/National Education Association

Don Sinner (Lakeville President), Robin Courrier (Director, Minnesota Education NEA), Nancy Cordes (Plymouth)

This week I met with Education Minnesota/Minnesota NEA Directors Robin Courrier, Nancy Cordes, and Don Sinner to discuss education in Minnesota. Issues ranging from higher education affordability to testing standards across the country are at the core of the work that needs to be done back home and in Washington. We need to create some certainty in our schools, yet our local educators know best what our students need on a daily basis. Groups such as the National Education Association represent the needs of our teachers and administrators to best help students.

Association of School Administrators

Todd Travis (Director of Special Education, Midwest Special Education Cooperative), Lynne Kovash (Superintendent, Moorhead Area Public Schools), Deb Henton (Superintendent, North Branch Area Public Schools), Lee Westrum (Superintendent, Wadena-Deer Creek School District)

This week I met with Lynne Kovash, Deb Henton, Todd Travis, and Lee Westrum, visiting with the Association of School Administrators, to discuss education in Minnesota, federal education regulations, and infrastructure improvements. I am always appreciative of the work and care our school administrators and teachers put into their jobs. I have said it before, but it is our job to make sure all of our children have an equal playing field when it comes to education.

Guardian of Small Business

Dan Danner (President and CEO, NFIB)

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) named me a Guardian of Small Business based upon my voting record as it relates to a pro-growth agenda for small business across the nation. It was an honor to receive an award from the nation’s leading small business association with over 4,000 members from the 7th. 

MN Mutual Insurance Companies

Nathan Johnson (MONTEVIDEO) Lynn Mauland (COTTONWOOD), Paul Larson (MAFMIC Chairman, Leenthrop Farmers Mutual, MONTEVIDEO),  Mikel Nelson (Elmdale Mutual, Upsala), Jeff Mauland (President, North Star Mutual, COTTONWOOD), Aaron Grove (Sverdrup Mutual, UNDERWOOD),  Aaron Cocking (MAFMIC CEO/Director of Government Affairs), Kerry & Becky Knakmuhs (Redwood County Farmers Mutual, LAMBERTON), Jon Hebeisen (Western National, Edina)

MN Mutual Insurance Companies stopped by the office during their visit to the Capitol. Their members represent the broad insurance needs and offer a wide range of products to constituents in the 7th. I hope we can work together in Congress to finalize the reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, and other measures that will create some certainty in the marketplace.

Telecom Alliance

Jeff Olson (Red River Telephone), Jean Pauk (TDS Telecommunications Corp.), Steve Katka (Albany Mutual Telephone Association & Chairman of the Board, MN Telecom Alliance) Bob Olson (Emily Co-Op) Brent Christensen (MN Telecom Alliance President) and Anne Christensen (MN Telecom Alliance)

Members of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance visited the office on Thursday to discuss the rural call completion problem and steps that are taking place to correct the problem. We also discussed broadband deployment and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision on the Universal Service Fund (USF). Three years ago, the FCC approved a transition period that would transition money from the USF High-Cost Program to a new $4.5 billion a year Connect America Fund for broadband internet expansion.

Animal Health Institute

Robert W. Jones (Novartis Animal Health), Donald Schwartz (Merial), Joseph N. Huff (Colorado Serum Company), Kent D. McClure (Animal Health Institute)

I met with Animal Health Institute representatives on Thursday to discuss pending regulations and antibiotics. Animal Health Institute has advocated for manufacturers of animal health products since 1941.

Minnesota Rural Electric Association

Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) members visited with me on Wednesday. They thanked me for my leadership in opposing EPA’s proposed Waters of the United States rule. We also talked about potential impacts on ratepayers from EPA’s proposed regulation of greenhouse gases from existing power plants, which is a big concern for rural electric cooperatives. Due to the rule’s complexity, EPA announced this week that it was further extending the comment period until December 1. According to its website, MREA seeks to provide service and leadership for electric cooperatives in the state, which range in size from 2,000 to 122,000 consumers.  

Minnesota Farm Bureau

On Wednesday, I sat down with a group of young farmers and ranchers who are members of the Minnesota Farm Bureau. They expressed their appreciation for my leadership in opposing EPA’s proposed rule for the Waters of the United States (WOTUS). WOTUS has caused a lot of confusion, and I’ve heard a lot of concern from the district. We also discussed agriculture labor reform. 

Growth Energy

John Fuher (Growth Energy, Washington, DC), Jon Jacobsen (Center Point Energy, Minneapolis), Mike O’Brien (Growth Energy, Lakeville), Guy Hartwig (Syngenta, Minnetonka), Gary Pestorious (Albert Lea), Chris Hanson (POET, Preston), Patrick Sexton (New Holland, Minneapolis), Michael Giambalvo (NJ)

On Wednesday, Growth Energy presented me with the 2014 Fueling Growth Award for my strong support of the ethanol industry. Growth Energy is the trade association for the ethanol industry, and I was honored to receive this award from them for the fourth year in a row.  During our meeting, we also discussed our mutual support for the Renewable Fuel Standard and the growing success of E15 sales in Minnesota. 

House Agriculture Committee Hearings

SNAP Work Pilot Programs

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing Wednesday to review USDA’s implementation of the SNAP work pilot programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. This hearing, where I delivered an opening statement, is an example of the bipartisan, cooperative work the Agriculture Committee does so well. The Committee authorized these projects because we value work and we want to put people back to work.

The farm bill invested $200 million to develop and improve innovative approaches to SNAP employment and training. The bill provides USDA with very clear direction for implementing these pilots and ensures that funding will create sustainable jobs by requiring annual reporting on set performance goals. The application process began last month and states have until November 24 to submit pilot program proposals to USDA.

Soil Health

On Thursday, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry held a hearing on the benefits of soil health. Interest in using cover crops to benefit soil health and improve water quality has been growing in recent years and the Midwest Cover Crop Council, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture have taken a leading role in researching cover crops. The Committee heard from two panels of witnesses, including Jill Sackett, with the University of Minnesota Extension, who provided a better understanding of what we’re seeing in the state.

St. Paul District US Army Corps of Engineers

On Wednesday I met Col. Dan Koprowski, Major Christian Thompson, and Judith DesHarnais with the St. Paul District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At the meeting we talked about efforts the Army Corps can take to advance water storage and retention projects in the Red River Valley. During the meeting I pushed the Corps to continue to make progress in their efforts in the 7th to expand critical flood protection services and make timely consideration of permits for transportation and construction projects. In addition to the work the Army Corps does permitting construction projects, they also play a role in fighting the spread of invasive species.

Martinson Field Grant

The Ortonville Municipal-Martinson Field Airport received a grant from the Department of Transportation to construct a fuel facility and restore the airport access road, parking lot, and runway. These structural improvements will keep the airport in working order, and allow it to continue to benefit the local economy.

USDA Rural Electric Systems

The USDA has allocated more than $518 million to be invested into efforts aimed at improving the delivery of electric power to communities in 15 states, including many in the District. According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, these funds will bring new economic and social opportunity, and consistently improve the quality of life in the nation’s rural communities.

Minnesota Homeland Security Emergency Management

Last week FEMA held a briefing for congressional staff to update Members on the ongoing work that FEMA and the Minnesota Homeland Security Emergency Management (HSEM) Department are doing across the state. On average, Minnesota experiences a disaster incident every 9.3 months. The most recent events that occurred between June 11 and July 11 of this year, caused damages all over Minnesota as a result of severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides and mudslides.

One of the ways communities can prepare for natural disasters is to do Hazard Mitigation planning. Currently, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has funding available to qualified communities interested in mitigating future damages from storms and flooding to help residents stay safe.

Constitution Day

US Constitution/Rotunda of the Charters of Freedom (National Archives)

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time on September 17th, 1787 to sign what would be the governing document of the United States. The United States, initially operating under the Articles of Confederation after achieving independence from Great Britain, assembled the Convention not to refine the American government, but create an entirely new, further unified one. After 227 years, the US Constitution stands as the oldest written constitution in use, and the rights it grants citizens are celebrated across the country through parades and demonstrations. If you would like to receive a pocket Constitution, please contact my office at 202.225-2165.

County Courthouse Tour

Big Stone County Courthouse 1944/Present

At the time of its establishment in 1862, Big Stone County was home to only 85 families, and was judicially represented by neighboring Stevens County. By 1881, Big Stone County officially organized, including the development of a three-story frame building to serve as a courthouse. From the start, the building’s construction and size were deemed inadequate, and the courthouse was replaced by the current structure in 1902. The brick in the current courthouse is accented with granite from Ortonville and features a prominent arched doorway, central pavilion, and wide gable.

This Week in American History

North Star Henry Boucha 1975/ “Hockey Town USA” (WARROAD)

The US Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Henry Boucha, an Ojibwa Native American born in Warroad, on September 16th, 1995. A distinguished performance as center on the Warroad high school hockey team led Boucha to a 6-season career in the National Hockey League, where he played for the Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota North Stars, Kansas City Scouts, and Colorado Rockies. Boucha’s talents also proved crucial in helping the US earn a silver medal during the 1972 Winter Olympics. After sustaining an eye injury in 1975, Boucha retired from professional hockey to serve as coordinator of the Warroad Public Schools Indian Education Department. To this day, he is widely considered one of the best high school hockey players Minnesota has ever seen.

Visitors from the 7th

Ted and Holly Heisserer (DETROIT LAKES), Cherie, Stephanie, Shante, and Brett Elsner (MOORHEAD)

Tim and Megan Hinton (Mankato), Julie and Mikel Nelson (BURTRUM), Danielle and Jayson Skindelien (SUNBURG)

Kaylee Christenson (CLARA CITY)
2014 Congressional Art Competition