Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 9/30/2016
I was glad to see several important pieces of legislation approved by Congress before returning to Minnesota for the October district work period. Bills to help protect our veterans, support our businesses, and improve water infrastructure were passed this week. I also welcomed meetings with several groups to discuss upcoming legislation and the farm bill, including visits with the Minnesota Rural Electric Association, White Earth Nation, the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, and Pheasants Forever. I look forward to spending this month in the communities and neighborhoods that make our district a great place to live.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Minnesota Rural Electric Association
Access to affordable electricity is a fundamental necessity to a strong rural economy. The Minnesota Rural Electric Association works to keep electricity bills low and I was pleased to meet with them on Tuesday to discuss various issues facing electric cooperatives, including the Clean Power Plan currently being debated in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, geothermal energy, and rural broadband development.
White Earth Nation
Ken Fox, Eugene “Umsy” Tibbetts, Steve “Punky” Clark
The annual White House Tribal Nations Conference was held in Washington this week, and members of White Earth Nation visited my office. White Earth has been working with the Minnesota Department of Human Services so tribal members and their families can directly receive public assistance from the White Earth Human Services Division. For more information on this development, please refer to this website.
National Association of Federally Impacted Schools
This week I met with Minnesota representatives of NAFIS to discuss Impact Aid funding for schools across the state. Impact Aid helps compensate local communities in areas where a portion of the tax base is smaller because of federal or tribal ownership. I continue to work to ensure Impact Aid is fully funded, as it is our duty to provide high quality education on tribal lands across the country. I always enjoy getting to catch up with the group from NAFIS, including my friend Roy Nelson, with our now infamous “Ponemah, Minn.” hats.
National Recovery Month
This week, I had the honor of addressing attendees at a Recovery Month event in Fargo. Recovery Month is an annual month-long recognition of those who have overcome their addiction and those who have supported recovery efforts. As a member of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, I understand that substance abuse is a growing public health concern that impacts a wide range of Americans. More than ever, awareness and education are necessary in helping communities combat addiction and promote healthy lifestyles.
This week I had a chance to sit down with Pheasants Forever’s Dave Nomsen to talk about the future of the Conservation Reserve Program, known as CRP, in the next farm bill. I remain concerned that we are losing too many of the large tracts that provide excellent habitat for wildlife. Although the budget restraints in the farm bill remain a challenge when it comes to making significant changes to the program, there are a number of things we can do to make this program more farmer friendly -- like increasing the flexibility around the haying and grazing rules. I look forward to working with Pheasants Forever and other conservation and agriculture organizations as we take a careful look at how this program is working and what changes we would like to see in the next farm bill.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Annual Dinner
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation recently held their Annual Dinner to celebrate sportsmen and women on Capitol Hill and the work we do to provide resources for outdoors enthusiasts across the county. I thoroughly enjoy attending the dinner each year, as it gives us like minded sportsmen and women a chance to swap hunting and fishing stories and discuss upcoming legislation. I have always worked to advance stewardship policies that protect our natural resources sportsmen rely upon and promote public access to those areas for people in greater Minnesota.
On Wednesday, my staff aide Toni Merdan attended two Naturalization Ceremonies in Fergus Falls at the historic Edward J. Devitt Courthouse to welcome and honor new United States Citizens. The Honorable Michael E. Ridgway swore in 38 new citizens from more than 16 countries. These individuals were commended for their dedication and efforts to go through the naturalization process. In order to become a naturalized citizen, immigrants must have lived in the United States for a period of time, be the spouse of a citizen, or be eligible for military service. After filling out the proper paperwork, they must pass background tests, go through an interview process, and pass a test that requires them to demonstrate English proficiency and knowledge of American civics. I congratulate them on their hard work and look forward to them being active, engaged citizens.
Dave and Amy Freeman
My staff aide Zach Martin met with Dave and Amy Freeman, two of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year. Amy and Dave just exited the wilderness last Friday, after spending 366 days inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with their friend’s three dogs. Their accomplishment is impressive, especially handling the freezing winter temperatures for months on end. The Freemans have documented their incredible adventure to the Boundary Waters so people can learn more about their experience.
Coast Guard Gold Medal
Constituent Petty officer Ben Cournia (CROOKSTON) was on Capitol Hill last week to receive the Vice Admiral Thomas Sargent III Gold Medal for a sea rescue on October 1, 2015.
People from the 7th congressional district proudly serve their country and Cournia's heroic action is another inspiring example. I commend Ben Cournia’s service heroic actions which saved 12 lives from a sinking ship. The crew of the ship abandoned ship 60 miles west of Haiti, and just 90 miles from the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, which was a raging category 4 storm. Cournia and the other rescuers aboard two Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopters battled 15-foot seas and 50-knot winds to complete the rescues.
Cournia battled churning seas to get survivors from their life raft – which was continuously blown hundreds of yards away from the rescue scene – into the helicopter’s rescue basket for hoisting to safety. He spent two hours in the water to rescue the first eight, then had to be hoisted himself so the helicopter could return to their forward operating base in the Bahamas for fuel. The crew was back on-scene an hour later, but after Cournia rescued the ninth survivor, a malfunction aboard the helicopter forced the crew to once again return to base – this time to switch airframes and return to the scene a third time and deploy Cournia into the turbulent water, where he expertly completed the rescue of the three final survivors.
Civil Air Patrol visits Detroit Lakes
Diane Harris and James Harris of the Tri County Senior Squadron in Walker; COL Kevin Sliwinski, Government Relations Officer; and Brent Halwag, Government Relations Advisor
Members of the Minnesota Wing Civil Air Patrol visited my Detroit Lakes office on Thursday and talked with my staff aide Jodi Dey. Civil Air Patrol is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and has a long history of public service beginning with protecting the U.S. home front during WWII. Today its core missions include emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education.
Kennedy Farmers Elevator destroyed by fire
Kennedy, Minnesota lost one of their two elevators. Kennedy Fire Chief Aaron Kirbeby reported that the Kennedy Fire Department, along with eleven other departments, responded to the call. The elevator contained wheat and soybeans. Thankfully no injuries were reported.
This week the House considered a number of issues before adjourning until November 14. The House will likely consider another government funding measure, as well as tax extenders, before the end of the year.
Funding the Government
The House passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 9, 2016. Although I would rather see the House consider and pass individual appropriations bills that take a careful look at government programs and allow for adjustments that reflect changing needs, it was necessary to support and pass this short term extension to keep the government open. The bill also included funding to aid a number of communities suffering from devastating floods and address the effects of the Zika virus.
Water Infrastructure Projects
The House advanced H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes and funds a number of navigation, flood control and ecosystem restoration projects across the country. Farmers in Minnesota benefit from being able to get their crops to market efficiently, and this bill’s investments in our inland waterway system will help to keep our producers competitive around the world. The differences between the House and Senate-passed bills will need to be resolved before sending a final bill to the President.
The House passed the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 954). The bill, which I supported, will temporarily exempt individuals from penalty if their health coverage through a non-profit insurer is terminated or discontinued. I voted against the healthcare law in 2010 because of my concerns about the bill’s unintended consequences. Since that time, I have voted on numerous occasions in support of reform measures, including those that would repeal or delay the individual mandate.
I supported the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Nonprofits Act (H.R. 6094), which includes delaying the implementation of the Department of Labor overtime rule by 6 months. This delay is an important step in keeping momentum going for more substantive changes to this damaging rule. I will continue to work with my constituent businesses and my colleagues in Congress to ensure Department of Labor's workforce policies do not harm the workers it intends to help.
The House also passed H.R. 1877, the Mental Health First Aid Act of 2016. This bill directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to award grants that help create and maintain mental health first-aid training programs, particularly in rural areas. I was happy to vote for the bill and will continue to support legislation that addresses the mental health training needs of rural areas.
Medal of Honor Convention
Some of our nation’s bravest are headed to Minnesota for the Medal of Honor Convention this October. This award is the highest designation of bravery available in our armed services, and I am honored to support and thank the recipients for their service and sacrifice. Learn more at #HonorOurHeroesMN2016 or https://www.mohtwincities.com/.
This Week in American History
Charlie Brown’s first appearance; Schulz at work
This Sunday in 1950, the “Peanuts” comic strip begins national publication in seven newspapers. Written by Minnesotan Charles Schulz, the strip ran all the way until 2000 with over 17,897 strips published. At its height more than 2,600 newspapers ran the comic in more than 75 countries. It’s thought to be the most influential comic strip in history.
Spotted in the Seventh
Can YOU guess what was Spotted in the Seventh? Each week, the newsletter will feature a landmark or site somewhere in Western Minnesota. The first person to name the location wins! The location of the photo as well as the winner will be revealed in the next newsletter.
This week’s landmark lets you get lost in all of Minnesota’s 87 counties…
Congratulations to Trig Viessman of Dawson for being the first to correctly identify our last location as the Mission Church in Lac qui Parle!
Share your guess on our website – https://collinpeterson.house.gov/contact-me/spotted-seventh
Emilie Halbakken (MOORHEAD)