Keep “America’s Best Idea” Affordable!
Americans Agree – We Can’t Fix Our National Parks by Pricing Them Out of Reach
Making our national parks unaffordable to millions of Americans with the largest entry fee increase since World War II is no way to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog that is putting these treasured public lands at risk.
Making our national parks unaffordable to millions of Americans with the largest entry fee increase since World War II is no way to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog that is putting these treasured public lands at risk. Instead, the Administration should be working with Congress to fully fund the necessary repairs and ensure that our national parks are preserved and protected for future generations.
Last fall, I joined numerous other colleagues in sending that message to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke after he proposed to increase peak season entry fees at 17 national parks from $25 to $70. And last week, the Interior Department appeared to be backing off the idea after receiving some 100,000 public comments virtually unanimously opposed to the price hike.
The hard cold fact is that our national parks, often called “America’s best idea,” are in urgent need of repair and maintenance. That’s why many of us in Congress are supporting legislation to address the maintenance backlog using the royalties oil and gas companies pay for onshore and offshore energy production on federal lands or by distributing currently unassigned federal mineral revenues back into a special restoration fund. The House Natural Resources Committee recently held a hearing on both of these proposals.
According to the National Parks& Conversation Association, 90% of the 8,500 miles of roads in our National Parks are in fair to poor condition and one in every three miles of trails are in poor or deficient condition. And that’s not to mention the complex infrastructure of some 680 water-treatment and wastewater systems, 505 dams, 1,804 bridges and tunnels, 775 campgrounds, and 12,250 miles of trails– all in need of constant repair and maintenance.
As I have pointed out many times before, the National Parks System contributes some $13 billion every year to our Nation’s economy and supports about 270,000 private sector jobs. Here in Minnesota, our six National sites – including Voyageurs National Park, the North Country Scenic Trail and Grand Portage National Monument in the 8th District – welcome 840,000 visitors each year and generate more than $47 million in commerce and business activity.
The simple fact is that funding our National Parks System is a matter of priorities. We have wasted tens of billions of dollars on infrastructure projects in Afghanistan and Iraq – and I’ve passed amendments to two Defense bills to put a stop to it. With just a portion of the money those amendments have saved, we can restore all our National Parks to pristine condition – an effort that polls show 90% of Americans support. Make no mistake – I’ll continue that fight as long as I’m in Congress.
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.
American Cancer Society Endorses Nolan’s Women and Lung Cancer Research Bill
During the more than three years since our youngest daughter, Katherine, was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-small cell - non smoking related lung cancer, we have joined forces to advocate for more funding for lifesaving research into why so many young women get lung cancer every year. Here we are at last fall’s rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, where we joined hundreds of other survivors, friends and families to declare that lung cancer is a national emergency.
We need to find out why lung cancer – the deadliest of all cancers – has become epidemic among young women, the great majority of whom don’t smoke. And in a major boost to that effort, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network has just endorsed our bipartisan “Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventative Services Act.”
As co-chairs and co-founders of the Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus, New Jersey Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo and I introduced the measure, which requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a comprehensive study to answer the question: Why it is that women, many of whom have never smoked in their lives, are being diagnosed with lung cancer at such an extreme rate?
Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California have teamed to introduce the bipartisan Senate companion bill to our House measure.
Here in the United States, an average of 193 women die each day of lung cancer – one every 7 minutes. Our own youngest daughter Katherine is a three-year survivor of Stage 4 non-smoking, non-small cell related lung cancer.
As we work to pass this bill and get it on the President’s desk, we are continuing to marshal support in both the House and Senate to greatly increase lung cancer research at the National Institutes of Health. To put the funding issue in some perspective, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost our Nation $6 TRILLION dollars. The budget for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health next year is projected to be about $5.6 billion, with about $282 million targeted specifically toward lung cancer.
Last year, I was able to pass two bipartisan amendments boosting lung cancer research by $5.8 million. That’s a lot of money – but it’s also just a tiny fraction of what’s being spent on endless wars of choice and weapons of terrible destruction. Cleary, it is time to reorder our national priorities.
Rush City Businessman Dennis Frandsen Offers Graduating Seniors the Gift of a College Education
Hats off to Rush City businessman Dennis Frandsen, who has offered full-ride community college scholarships to every graduate of Rush City High School this year.
Living graciously is all about gratitude and paying success forward, as Rush City businessman Dennis Frandsen – who never went to college – demonstrated last week when he stepped up and offered 59 hometown graduating seniors a full-ride, two-year scholarship to Pine Technical and Community College. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, many students have already applied for the scholarships to earn a degree in professions like nursing, car repair, computer science, gunsmithing and other vocational trades.
The Tribune reported that Frandsen first paid for his grandchildren’s college education so they could start their adult lives without the “terrible anchor” of student loans that average around $32,000 for graduating seniors here in Minnesota.
Obviously, generous people like Dennis Frandsen can’t buy college for every student in America. That’s why I’ve joined Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and numerous others here on the House side in championing our College for All Act to eliminate all tuition and fees for low and middle-income students at two and four-year public and tribal colleges and universities.
The simple fact is that college is fast becoming unaffordable to millions of our best and brightest young people. Just consider that in 1979, it was possible to earn enough money to pay for a year of college tuition – averaging about $2,800 dollars – just by working four or five days a week at a summer job that paid minimum wage. Today, it would take a minimum wage employee an entire year of working 40 hours a week to pay the average cost of tuition, room and board of about $21,000 dollars.
Meanwhile, students are picking up an ever-increasing portion of the tab for their college educations. In 2017 twenty-two states reduced the money they spent per student on public colleges. That’s up from the 17 states that saw drops in 2016 and the ten from 2015, according to an annual report published last week that tracks state appropriations and tuition revenue at public colleges.
Attention 8th District Students Interested in Attending a U.S. Military Academy
Students from the Eighth Congressional District interested in applying for a nomination to a Military Academy should attend U.S. Service Academy Information night on Tuesday, April 17 from 6:30 – 8:30pm at the Mounds View High School Auditorium. Address: 1900 Lake Valentine Road, Arden Hills, MN 55112
Guests from the US Air Force Academy, US Military Academy, US Merchant Marine Academy, and US Naval Academy will speak about their programs, opportunities for students, and life at the academies. Students, family members, and interested individuals will have the opportunity to ask questions, learn about the application process for each academy, and the congressional nomination process through my office.
Our Week in Duluth
Here I am attending a Twin Ports Business Roundtable with Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari. President Kashkari spent two days in Duluth and Superior last week meeting with manufacturers, businesses, bankers, veterans and others discussing challenges to employers, the economy, and how the Federal Reserve can be of assistance to people in the 8th Congressional District.
I was able to visit the Boys and Girls Club of Duluth and meet with these fun kids and the adults who run the program. We had time to talk about current events and work I am doing in Congress to support after-school programs.
Had the opportunity to listen to presentations by area college students on the state of Northeastern Minnesota's economy at the Regional Economic Indicators Forum (REIF) in Duluth. Here I am with Almira Salimgarieva (University of Wisconsin Superior), Alexander Hook (University of Minnesota Duluth), Katherine Grotte (College of St. Scholastica), and Mitchell Blomberg (University of Wisconsin Superior).
While in Duluth this week I bumped into my old friend Tony Sertich. Tony, a former Minnesota House Majority Leader and State Representative from the Iron Range, is now doing great things with the Northland Foundation.
Our Week in Cambridge
The quarterly Regional City/County Clerks/Administrators and Community Economic Developers meeting was hosted by the East Central Regional Development Commission at the Cambridge City Hall last week. The group saw a presentation by Liz Templin from the University of Minnesota Extension on growth patterns for the Region. Cathy Capone Bennett from the Urban Land Institute talked about four major change drivers: demographics, market forces, commercial industrial trends and technology. My Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the meeting on my behalf.
Our Week in Sandstone
At the Sandstone EDA Business Breakfast, a good size group heard from Mayor Peter Sparta about business development in the area. My Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the event on my behalf.
CEO of the new Sandstone Hospital, Michael Hedrix, stands in front of artwork depicting life in early Pine County displayed in the hospital. My Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Lundorff Drive, the new road to the hospital which I strongly supported.
The Wild Cat Sanctuary in the southern part of our district provides a safe home for the big cats they have rescued from bad situations. The sanctuary gives the cats a place to live the rest of their life in dignity. My Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen had the opportunity to visit the sanctuary and talk with the operators about the importance of HR1818 which would prevent individuals from keeping big cats as pets.
Our Week in Brainerd
Central Lakes College held an autism awareness forum titled “Autism: What the DSM Doesn’t Tell Us.” In this photo, Claribel Severson, MA, NCC LPCC, describes the ways autism affects the processing of information. My Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the forum on my behalf.
Rural MN CEP presented a Brainerd Lakes Community Job Fair at Central Lakes Community College. The event hosted dozens of employers in a wide variety of fields including manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, and law enforcement. My Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.
Department of Natural Resources Senior Climatologist Kenny Blumenfeld presented “Climate Chaos in Minnesota” at Central Lakes College. Dr. Blumenfeld described warmer and wetter climate trends for our state. In this picture, Dr. Blumenfeld discusses hazards that are “likely,” “possible,” and “uncertain.” My Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.
Our Week in Chisholm
Brian Maki, Chairman, President and CEO of Lakehead Constructors Inc. recently received the Leadership Award from United Way of North East Minnesota’s Executive Director Shelley Valentini at the Minnesota Discovery Center. Mr. Maki has been a donor to the United Way of North East Minnesota’s Building Renovation Campaign. The United Way’s building renovation in Chisholm will allow the organization to perform more of its programs in-house instead of in borrowed spaces. My Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside attended the ceremony on my behalf.
Our Week in Mountain Iron
Executive Director Jim Weikum and Receptionist Dena Vendetti of the Arrowhead Library in Mountain Iron met with my Congressional Field Representative Jordan Metsa to talk about the Arrowhead Library Systems top priority needs for 2018. The Arrowhead Library System consists of 27 libraries across the northeastern part of the 8th district. The library is committed to youth and professional development and enriching quality of life for all people in northeastern Minnesota. In this photo, Dena is displaying a picture of yours truly holding one of my favorite books, The Book of Merlyn, by T.H. White.
Coming Up in Washington
- The House is expected to take up H.J.Res.2, a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. Over 250 groups have written Congress in the past raising serious concerns about the effects such an amendment would have on our economy and national security.
Have You Ever Wondered What It's Like to Work in a Congressional Office?
Elizabeth Frandle is one of the interns this Spring semester in my congressional office in Duluth. She is a UMD student and has been doing great work for us.
If you have always wondered what it's like to work in a congressional office and watch public policy take shape firsthand, I encourage you to apply to be an intern in one of my offices for the upcoming summer.
Working as an intern is a great way to learn more about politics, public affairs, and government at any level. In fact, many members of Congress begin their careers in public service as interns and staff assistants. I was lucky enough to begin my life in politics as a young staff assistant to then Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale - and he has been a dear friend and valued mentor to me ever since.
If you are a student interested in learning more about the policymaking process and working in one of our district offices in Minnesota or in Washington D.C., please contact my District Director, Jeff Anderson, at Jeff.Anderson@mail.house.gov or call our Duluth office at 218-464-5095.