Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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About Rick

Returning to Congress in 2013 after more than 32 years in domestic and international business and community work and starting his second term in 2015 after reelection, Congressman Rick Nolan represents Minnesota’s sprawling 8th District – 18 counties that run from the top of the state’s Duluth/Lake Superior Arrowhead region, through some of the nation’s richest mining, timber, lakes and tourist country, to the fast-growing northern suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

He was recently named one of the top ten most effective Members of Congress in a study by the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University. He was also singled out by TIME magazine for his leadership in keeping America out of war with Syria. His leadership across the board has earned him praise from various Labor, business and consumer groups throughout the nation.

Rick grew up in Brainerd, Minnesota on the Cuyuna Range in the heart of the state’s lake country. His father, Hank, was a postal worker. His mother, Mary, was a homemaker who supplemented the family income in the area resort industry. Along with his brother, Jim, and sister, Mary Pat, Rick began his lifelong enjoyment of hunting, fishing and the outdoors at an early age.

A father of 4 and grandfather of 10, Rick has been married to Mary Nolan for more than 30 years. The Nolan homestead in rural Crosby is a regular gathering place for 5 generations of Nolans who together tap maple syrup in spring, harvest wild rice in the fall, and never miss a hunting or fishing opener.

Rick worked his way through the University of Minnesota as a proud Local 638 UPS Teamster, and later taught high school social studies in Royalton, Minnesota.  He directed the North Central Minnesota 19-unit Head Start program and was curriculum coordinator for the Little Falls Adult Education program. He did post-graduate work at St. Cloud State University, Central Lakes College and the University of Maryland.

After serving as a staff assistant to then Minnesota Walter F. Mondale from 1966 to 1968, he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1968 representing Morrison County in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 2 terms. At 24, he was one of the youngest people ever to serve in the Minnesota Legislature.

Rick was elected to Congress from Minnesota’s 6th District, which then encompassed 22 central and southwestern counties, in 1974, arriving in Washington as part of a record number of new Members at the onset of the post-Watergate era.

During his 3 terms from 1975-1981, he was recognized nationwide for his battles on behalf of working families, farmers, small businesses and rural communities. Rick was honored during those years to be named a “Most Respected Member of Congress” by syndicated columnist Jack Anderson in his widely read column, “Congress Watch.”

Rick decided to leave Congress in 1980 to spend more time with his young family and pursue private business. In the ensuing years, he devoted much of his professional energy to generating Minnesota jobs through exports and trade. Establishing his own business, U.S. Export Corporation, he worked with then Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich to build and operate the Minnesota World Trade Center in downtown St. Paul. He later served as president of the Minnesota World Trade Center Corporation and chaired the International Association of World Trade Centers’ Trade and Policy Committee, the world’s largest private sector international trade group.

Rick is also the former owner of Emily Wood Products, a small sawmill and pallet factory in the northern Minnesota community of Emily. He successfully built the business and generated good jobs in the area. Rick’s daughter and son-in-law now own and operate the enterprise.

Continuing his public service, Rick became chairman of his local Mission Township Planning Committee, and chairman of the Central Lakes College Foundation, raising money for disadvantaged students of all ages.

Rick retains his previous seniority as a 5th term Member.


U.S. Congressman (MN-08), 2013 to the present

  • Bills Passed into Law:
    • H.R.2650 - Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Non-Intercourse Act of 2013 – authorizing a land exchange between the Fond du Lac Band and Carlton County, Minnesota
    • H.R.3608 - Grand Portage Band Per Capita Adjustment Act – upon receipt of annual state payments, Grand Portage Band Members are now able to maintain their eligibility for federal assistance and benefits
    • H.R.4220 - School District 318 Land Exchange Act – allowed a Grand Rapids school and the U.S. Geological Survey to move forward with a land exchange as a provision in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act
    • H.R.1848 - The Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013 - requires the Federal Aviation Administration  to adopt new certification regulations that should reduce the cost of aircraft and avionics upgrades
    • H.R.4926 - Designating Interstate Route 35 from Forest Lake to Duluth as the "James L. Oberstar Memorial Highway"
    • S.179/H.R.316 - Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 14 3rd Avenue, NW, in Chisholm, Minnesota, as the "James L. Oberstar Memorial Post Office Building"


  • Amendments Included:
    • Water Resources Reform and Development Act
      • Close the Upper St. Anthony lock to prevent Asian Carp from invading northern Minnesota waterways, seriously harming sport fishing and recreation.
      • Expand the definition of "invasive species" -- now limited to plants -- to include animal species like Asian Carp and Zebra Mussels, and make them eligible for research and abatement programs under the Army Corps of Engineers.
      • Stop raids on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Funds -- critical to overcoming a 10-year backlog in Great Lakes dredging forcing ships to operate at 80% of capacity, costing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in business activity.
      • Treat the Great Lakes as one "system" rather than as a chain of individual waterways -- making more money available for dredging and maintenance.
    • Farm Bill
      • Promote Forest Products Research: I introduced an amendment to promote the benefits of wood as an environmentally-friendly building material - this amendment was adopted into the final bill and passed into law by President Obama. Following this, the USDA announced a new partnership to train architects, engineers and builders about the benefits of advanced wood building materials, and plans for a forthcoming prize competition to design and build high-rise wood demonstration projects.
      • Increase the Conservation Stewardship Program: Minnesota has more conservation stewardship contracts than any other state - with Morrison County, in our 8th District, leading the way. Two of my amendments to the Farm Bill supported this popular program, the first to increase the maximum enrollment, and the second to streamline and simplify the application process. 
    • National Defense Authorization Act

      • H.R.1735 114th - Prohibits funding from the Syria and Iraq Train and Equip programs to recipients that the Secretary of Defense has reported as having previously misused provided training and equipment.

      • H.R.4435 113th - Requires the Department of Defense to submit a report to Congress assuring proper auditing and oversight for each Afghanistan reconstruction project at least 15 days before the funds are obligated.
      • Included in the final Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 – Amendment cutting off all U.S. funds for the reconstruction in Afghanistan, and another that requires the Secretary of Defense to verify that any new Afghan construction project costing $1 million or more will be closely monitored by U.S. personnel to prevent fraud and abuse.
    • Defense Department Appropriations

      • H.R.2685 – 114th - $1 million for Defense Health Programs lung cancer research.

      • H.R.4870 – 113th – Prohibit funding for the "Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund"


  • Committees:
    • Member of the House Agriculture Committee,, as well as the following subcommittees:
      • ​​​Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry
      • Subcommittee on Livestock & Foreign Agriculture
    • Member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, as well as the following subcommittees:
      • Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
      • Subcommittee on Aviation
      • Subcommittee on Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials
      • Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment


U.S. Congressman (MN-06), 1975-1981

  • A "Most Respected" Member of US Congress (1975-1981) - “Congress Watch” by nationally syndicated Columnist Jack Anderson
  • "Presidential Commission on World Hunger," Chief Congressional sponsor and Presidential appointee to the Commission (1978-80)
  • "Rural Development Policy Act of 1980," Chief Congressional Sponsor; featured as major accomplishment by the Carter Administration
  • Member of House Agriculture Committee responsible for food, nutrition, agricultural production
  • Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Family Farms & Rural Development
  • Congressional Delegate to the European Parliamentary Exchange     
  • Negotiated American Political Prisoner Release and Agricultural Exchange with Cuban President Fidel Castro (1977)
  • "Bread for the World Distinguished Service Award" recipient

Previous Business Experience

  • Former Chairman, President and CEO of Minnesota World Trade Center Corporation
  • Former Chairman of International Association of World Trade Centers Trade Policy Committee, the world’s largest private sector international trade group
  • 25 years of International Business experience generating American jobs, selling American products, establishing distributorships, joint ventures, partnerships, agency relationships, business training, and finance for American companies
  • Former President/Owner/CEO of Emily Forest Products, a sawmill & pallet manufacturer in Emily, MN. Planted more than 100,000 trees.

At Home

  • Former President of Central Lakes College Foundation, which provides scholarship money to economically disadvantaged students of all ages
  • Lecturer for Initiative Foundation on Serving in Public Office
  • National Township Officer’s Association Citizen of the Year
  • Former Chairman, Mission Township Planning Committee