Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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America’s Airports Get Big Boost as Nolan’s FAA Reform Bill Heads to President Obama’s Desk

The excessive cost of moving these towers at the Brainerd Airport to accommodate a new hanger prompted our legislation to help save taxpayer dollars by ensuring that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) better cooperates with state and local governments on airport improvement projects.

Dear Friend,

I'm delighted to report that after earlier passage by the House, the Senate last week approved my bipartisan bill (H.R. 6014) to ensure that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) better cooperates with state and local governments on improvement projects for airports so important in creating good paying jobs across Minnesota and the Nation. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. Hats off to Senator Amy Klobuchar for championing our measure on the Senate side. And a big thank you to community leaders and the staff at Brainerd Regional Airport for input that helped spur passage of this important legislation. (More on that below.)

Specifically, our bill would put an end to FAA’s practice of routinely requiring even simple airport improvement projects to undergo expensive feasibility and planning studies that go far beyond what’s actually necessary to ensure that the work meets rigorous federal safety standards. The bill also allows state agencies like the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to plan and build airport projects if they can do so for less money and safety can still be ensured.

Here in the 8th District, Brainerd Regional Airport would be one of the first to benefit once the bill is signed into law. Thanks to our new measure, local investors can fund a new, $1 million hanger to help attract new businesses and good paying jobs without the airport having to pay $500,000 for FAA-mandated studies and contractors in order to move two 25-foot towers – a step necessary to build the hanger. That’s because MnDOT has assured us they can do the same job for a fraction of the cost – and in full compliance with all FAA safety regulations.

Again, situations like the one in Brainerd are not uncommon across the Nation. And as a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, I was glad to be in a position to make sure the FAA and state and local governments cooperate to improve our airports, make them safer and do so in a manner that saves precious taxpayer money. 

We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.



Cures Act Funds Biden’s Cancer Moonshot – Aims to Revolutionize Medical Research and Treatment  

The 21st Century Cures Act contains a total of $1.8 billion over the next five years to fund Vice President Biden’s “Moonshot” to accelerate cancer research.

With my strong support, the House last week passed the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, which many are calling a “once in a generation” plan to revolutionize the way we research and treat disease. It’s a long-term, national commitment to discover, develop and deliver new treatments and cures for cancer and neuromuscular diseases like Parkinson’s. Important provisions are included to fight opioid addiction, improve community mental health services, expand patient access to clinical trials and safely speed and modernize FDA approval for cutting edge medicines and life-saving medical devices.

Three years in the making, preparation for the ten-year, $4.8 billion measure involved hearings and meetings all over the country with physicians, researchers, patients and medical industry leaders, among others. Everyone had a say in what the final bill contains. It’s about 1,000 pages long, but here are highlights of what the new funding will support:

Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot. Goals include powerful new research leading to additional breakthroughs in immunotherapy and cutting edge combined therapies, development of vaccines to prevent and cure cancer and faster, better diagnostic testing for cancer.

Personalized, precisian medical treatment. The bill supports researchers working to develop medicines tailored to each individual patient rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Expanded community mental health services. The measure provides grants and other assistance for local mental health initiatives including suicide prevention and help for communities to provide individuals in crisis with nearby treatment and residential facilities. Support is also included for mental health services benefitting children showing early signs of mental disorders.

President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative. The Cures Act promotes bold new research to help doctors and researchers better understand the human brain, more successfully treat traumatic brain injuries, and uncover new ways to prevent, treat and cure disorders such as Alzheimer’s’, autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

New discoveries about adult stem cells.  The bill includes new resources to help researchers advance the field of regenerative medicine using adult step cells.

Modernize the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). While continuing to ensure the highest standards of safety and effectiveness, the Cures Act directs the FDA to speed and modernize its process for reviewing new medical products and expedite patient access to cutting edge new drug and medical devices.

Nolan to Leadership: No More Last Minute Deals that Put Pensions at Risk

Speaking to a rally of more than 500 Union members and working families on Saturday, I assured them that we won’t rest until we make certain that every retiree receives every dollar of the hard earned pensions they have paid into and earned over a lifetime of work. 

Our pension reform message to House leadership last week was clear and direct. America’s pension plan funding crisis is real. There are more than 1,400 multi-employer defined benefit pension plans operating in the United States with $432 billion in assets, and 532 of those plans are in serious or critical condition. With that in mind, we must not allow Congress to make things worse by allowing 2017 budget negotiators to slip in another poorly conceived, last minute “reform” plan that could deny millions of workers and retirees the full pensions they have paid into and earned over a lifetime.

What prompted our plea to House leadership, which I led with support from a number of my colleagues, is a Republican plan that could be added to a temporary or permanent 2017 budget agreement. Only briefly considered in one hearing, it would allow relatively healthy pension plans to restructure to two inferior plans: a “legacy” plan that would allow employers to make smaller yearly contributions than the original plan, and a new “composite” plan that makes no biding promises to workers and retirees.

This is exactly the sort of un-vetted back room deal that occurred in 2014, which eventually triggered the Central States Pension Fund crisis. If we hadn’t stepped in and convinced the Treasury Department to put a stop to it, several hundred thousand Teamsters – including some 28,000 in Minnesota – would have suffered drastic pension cuts that in our state alone were estimated to be $1.85 billion over time.

As we pointed out to Speaker Ryan, solutions to shore up our Nation’s ailing pension funds must be carefully crafted through the process of regular order, where every good idea is heard and every amendment is given an up or down vote under an open rule. That’s how we use common sense to find common ground.

Scenic Trails Bill Takes a Big Step Forward

Appearing before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands, I explained how our North Country Scenic Trails bill would boost recreation and tourism and help create more good paying jobs in our local communities.

Taking its first big step toward eventual passage, our North Country Scenic Trails bill (H.R. 799) got a good reception last week at a hearing before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands. Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont and I have introduced the measure to help create good paying jobs and boost tourism by putting the finishing touches on a unified 4,600 mile national hiking trail system. This remarkable network stretches from North Dakota through Minnesota’s Arrowhead and on to Vermont – then north to Main and south to Georgia.

Here in Minnesota, the bill would officially add to the National Scenic Trail some 400 miles of world-class hiking trails in the Boundary Waters – the Superior Hiking Trail, the Border Route Trail and the Kekekabic Trail. All three trails have been informally recognized to be part of the system for many years. Our plan also skirts around and protects about 100 miles of environmentally sensitive bogs and wetlands that had been included in an earlier suggested route. Moreover, it doesn’t involve any new dollars or require taking any land through eminent domain.

As I pointed out to my colleagues on the subcommittee, beyond the obvious health and recreational benefits, America’s hiking trails are a real economic powerhouse. According to the American Hiking Association, hikers contribute $196 billion every year to our economy as they buy supplies, stay in local hotels and patronize local restaurants. By doing so, they support some 768,000 good paying jobs. Healthier people and a healthier economy – that’s a win-win for everybody!

A Pay Raise for Our Troops!

Good news for America’s military families. The bipartisan $611.2 billion 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House passed last Friday with my support, includes a 2.1% salary increase for our troops. That’s above and beyond the President’s original request for a 1.6% boost, and reflects America’s deep gratitude for the heroic service our men and women in uniform provide to preserve and protect our freedoms.

I’m also pleased that this final bill does NOT include a budget gimmick Republicans included in the earlier House version that would have resulted in our combat troops literally running out of money on April 30, 2017. Their plan would have taken $18 billion out of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund – at the expense of our combat troops – to pay for unnecessary weapons and other items not requested by the Administration. Our troops and taxpayers deserve better than what that bill had to offer, and I’m glad we were able to improve it for the benefit of all. .

Nolan to Appropriators: Fund Education so Kids Can Succeed

These Chicago Lakes Elementary students agree - funding education is one of the best investments we can make in America’s future.

As a father, grandfather and former teacher, I’m constantly pressing my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to fully fund federal education programs so ALL students have every opportunity to live up to their full potential in life. As 2017 budget negotiations continue, I am strongly urging Committee leadership to support two pieces of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA) that are absolutely critical for our local schools to do their jobs: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants under Title IV, and Title I, Part A funding for at-risk students from low income families.

Despite the fact that Congress authorized strong funding for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants as part of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act passed in 2015, proposed fiscal year 2017 appropriations drastically underfunded the Title IV block grant that funds a host of programs our kids, teachers and schools rely on. As I have pointed out to the Appropriations Committee, inadequate funding for Title IV would force schools to choose between vital programs authorized under the block grant, including college and career counseling, accelerated learning courses, physical education, mental health services, school libraries and technology, among others.

Robust funding for Title I is equally and vitally important to ensure that every child is learning and achieving up to state standards. Under Title 1, some 56,000 schools get the resources they need to provide school wide programs, as well as individual help, for 21 million children from disadvantaged families who would otherwise be at high risk of falling through the cracks in our academic system. Here in Minnesota, more than 800 schools in over 300 school districts received Title 1 funds in FY 2016 – in total, about $163.7 million to help thousands of kids get the education they deserve.

In passing the Every Student Succeeds Act, which I strongly supported, Congress took a step forward, past the era of the failed No Child Left Behind law. But without sufficient funding, the vastly improved system we ushered in can’t achieve the intended results. We cannot and must not allow that to happen. 

Ever Wonder What It’s Like to Work in a Congressional Office? We’re Looking for Interns in DC and Duluth!

Our fall 2016 Washington, D.C. interns, Prescott Robinson and Michael Ricciardi.

Calling all college students and graduate students here in Minnesota’s 8th District. If you’re interested in public policy issues and would like to help us serve the great people of Central and Northeastern Minnesota, we have internships available in our Washington, D.C. and Duluth offices throughout the fall, spring and summer semesters. Check my website for more details.

Our Week in DC

Canadian National Railway

Our Week in St. Paul

Here I am with Laura and Bob Burrington from Lindstrom at the rally to protect pensions.

Our Week in Duluth 

Our Field Representative Mark Privratsky attended the World AIDS Day Vigil in Duluth. A dozen people lined up to light candles at the inaugural Twin Ports World AIDS Day Expo at the American Indian Community Housing Organization on Thursday to honor people living with HIV or AIDS and remember those who have lost their lives to the disease. The event also featured resource booths like the one pictured so that individuals can focus on prevention and proactive treatment. 

Our Week in Pine City 

Our Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the Northern Lights Express NLX November meeting at the Pine County Courthouse. Plans are in the design and engineering stage for rail crossings according to MNDOT Rail as the process continues towards fruition. 

Our Week in Sunrise Township 

Check out these beautiful snow covered pines after the big snow fall in November in Sunrise Township, along our Field Representative Rick Olseen's driveway.

Our Week in Center City 

Our Field Representative Rick Olseen attended two meetings last week on the Minnesota Food Charter, where they are building a roadmap to healthy, affordable and safe food for all Minnesotans. He also met with Food Network Leaders, who are working to implement these goals.

Our Week in Ranier 

This week my District Field Representative, Jordan Metsa, hit the road with Senator Klobuchar's Regional Outreach Director, Ida Rukavina. They traveled to Ranier, International Falls, and Littlefork to meet with city officials about projects and issues that face the region. Pictured below, is Cheryl Gatreux (left), City Clerk for Ranier and Ida Rukavina (right). They are standing in front of the newly constructed "quite zone" that my office and Senator Amy Klobuchar's office helped bring to fruition after many years of waiting.  

Coming Up in Washington

This week:

• The House is expected to pass with wide support H.R. 3381, the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, legislation I have cosponsored to expand efforts within the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to track and research childhood cancers, and establish new grant programs intended to assist pediatric cancer patients as they face health challenges later in life. Congress is also expected to finalize a Water Resources Development Act, as well as kick the can down the road on government funding for a few more months. 


Oh Christmas Tree 


The official White House Christmas tree - from Wisconsin this year - was delivered atop a horse-drawn carriage on the front White House drive last week to the sound of jingle bells on the horses, and a four-piece military band playing Oh Christmas Tree.

Nolan in the news...

ECM Post Review: We’ll seek common ground with the new administration

Grand Rapids Herald: Rep. Nolan: Defeat of TPP trade agreement

IFalls Journal: Commentary: Scenic trails bill up for hearing

Duluth News Tribune: National view: Lung cancer battle raises concerns about e-cigs, other ‘nicotine-delivery devices’

Star Tribune: U.S. House passes 21st Century Cures Act

Duluth News Tribune: It’s OT for Minnesota’s estate claims fix

Grand Rapids Herald: North Country Scenic Trails Bill Steps Up For A Hearing


Lake County News Chronicle: Local trails to be included in national trail network

Brainerd Dispatch: Nolan bill to help local airports passes Senate, heads to Obama’s desk

Grand Rapids Herald Review: Presidential Permit Approved For Transmission Line

For more on the issues in this newsletter...

Click here to learn more about our work on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Click here to learn more about our work on Health Care.

Click here to learn more about our work on Hunting, Fishing and the Outdoors.

Click here to learn more about our work on the Environment.

Click here to learn more about our work on Veterans issues.

Click here to learn more about our work on Education (K-12).