Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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No Shame - No Blame!

Sep 10, 2018
the Monday Report

Nolan to Introduce "No Shame-No Blame" Bill to Ban School Lunch Shaming and Hold Districts Accountable 

Our “No Shame-No Blame Act” would ensure that here in the greatest food-producing nation on earth, no student would ever be publicly humiliated or punished in a school cafeteria – or anywhere else – because they can’t afford to pay for their meal.  No student would ever be required to do chores, made to wear wristbands, or have their lunch thrown out as their friends look on. 

Dear Friend, 

This week, with millions of students back in school, I will be introducing the “No Shame-No Blame Act of 2018” to make the despicable practice of “lunch shaming” a violation of federal law

Under this measure, here in the greatest food-producing nation on earth, no student would ever be publicly humiliated or punished in a school cafeteria – or anywhere else – because they can’t afford to pay for their meal.  No student would ever be required to do chores, made to wear wristbands, or have their lunch thrown out as their friends look on. 

Good nutrition and successful kids go hand in hand. But for many students across the country, lunch shaming stands between them and their only good meal of the day. So our measure would require school districts violating the law to use excess school administrative funds to pay off and forgive student lunch debt when families can’t afford to pay. 

In addition, the No Shame-No Blame Act does four more things:

  • Requires all communications relating to debts be directed to the parent or guardian – not the student. 
  • Stipulates that school districts review, publish, and distribute – on an annual basis – the policy guidelines relating to school lunch debts, insufficient funds to purchase meals, available meals, and food programs or resources. 
  • Mandates that each state submit to the Department of Education a list of any violation by a school or school district, as well as the amount of student meal debt accumulated over the previous school year. 
  • Orders the Secretary of Education to publish a list of those violations online via the Department’s website.

Meanwhile, we are still working hard to build support for House Resolution 913 to put Congress on record in support of a federal, publicly funded program to provide every child with a school lunch at public expense. Compare the administrative costs of determining what every child in America should pay for a school lunch with the actual cost of the food, add in the moral imperative of ensuring every child is properly fed, and the result, as we say in northern Minnesota, becomes a “no brainer.” 

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.


Senator McCain Was Right - Process Matters -It's Time to Restore Democracy in Congress

Click on the screen above and I’ll explain why process matters and why Congress needs to restore Regular Oder in the House of Representatives. 

Process matters. So our Restore Democracy legislation calls for a return to Congress’s time-honored, traditional process of Regular Order. Under Regular Order, every bill and amendment is brought up under an open rule. Arguments for and against are heard during a robust debate on the merits, and the measure is given an up or down vote. It is during those debates that we find common ground, hash out differences, solve problems and actually accomplish things for the American people.

The late Senator John McCain hit the nail on the head over a year ago in an editorial for the Washington Post: 

We won’t settle all our differences (through Regular Order), but such an approach is more likely to make progress on the central problems confronting our constituents. We might not like the compromises Regular Order requires, but we can and must live with them if we are to find real and lasting solutions. And all of us in Congress have the duty, in this sharply polarized atmosphere, to defend the necessity of compromise before the American public.

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), during my first period of service in Congress, from 1975 until 1981, up to 91 percent of all bills that reached the floor of the House were considered under open rules. Those earlier Congresses, and many that followed, were far more productive and bipartisan in nature.

Today, in order to limit debate and make time for campaign fundraising at Democratic and Republican call centers across the street from the Capitol, open rules apply to less than five percent of all the bills that reach the floor. The closed rules that apply to the remaining 95 percent lead to Congressional gridlock because they shut down debate and often leave the best common sense ideas on the cutting room floor. 

The simple fact is that every member, Democrat or Republican, comes to Washington with plans and ideas to help the nation. But stuck in a cycle of endless fundraising, and largely unable to shape or even read bills they are expected to vote on, Congress has become increasingly resentful and rebellious. That’s why, in recent years, major legislation governing immigration, transportation, education, agriculture and Veterans affairs, just to name a few, have been forced off the Floor of the House for lack of support – or not considered at all.

Here’s the bottom line. Congress will never be truly effective again for the American people until we restore democracy and Regular Order to the legislative process.  

The Restore Democracy Revolution

The foundation lies in overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which has allowed corporations and wealthy special interests to spend unlimited amounts of secret “dark” money to influence elections. In addition to reestablishing Regular Order, our legislation would also put Congress on record supporting small donor-public campaign financing and limiting the campaign season. Moreover, we are calling for full disclosure of all campaign contributions, establishment of national online voter registration and a halt to all voter suppression.

Minnesotans Badly Served by President's Bluster on Canada Trade

Iron Range taconite tops the list of Minnesota exports to Canada, with more than $60 million worth of product flowing into the integrated U.S.-Canadian steel and manufacturing industries every year.

The President’s blustering threats to leave Canada by the wayside while the U.S. finalizes a new trade agreement with Mexico defy reason and common sense. The simple fact is that job-generating trade and commerce between the U.S. and Canada are vitally important to Minnesota as a whole, and to the 8th Congressional District in particular.

In fact, Canada is Minnesota’s largest trading partner. We export some $4.045 billion dollars in goods and services across our northern border every year according to the Minnesota Trade Office.

Moreover, Canada is the 8th District’s largest trading partner, with nearly 18,000 good paying jobs directly dependent on trade – and exports to Canada totaling more than $429 million every year. Range iron ore tops the list with over $60 million in products flowing into the integrated U.S.-Canadian steel and manufacturing industries. Iron ore exports are followed by motor vehicles ($38 million), paper and forest products ($23 million), agricultural and construction machinery ($17 million) and basic chemicals ($16 million).

On the service end, 8th District exports to Canada involving travel, transportation, insurance and business and technical services lead the way, accounting for another $51 million annually.

Like all partners, our two nations have issues to work on and disagreements to negotiate. 

As friends and allies, I believe we can meet those challenges, and maintain the strong and mutually beneficial economic relationship our two nations enjoy for many more generations to come. 

Administration Moves to Keep Migrant Children in Custody - Sabotage Family Reunification on the Border

The Administration’s forced family separation policy on our southern border ripped thousands of young children away from their parents - the equivalent of state-sponsored kidnapping. Months later, hundreds of children are still in federal custody, treated like prisoner of war. 

The terrible chaos and cruelty in the wake of the Administration’s forced family separation policy on our southern border goes on and on. The Washington Post reported last week that despite a court-imposed deadline and demands by Congress and the American people, hundreds of migrant children remain forcibly separated from their parents.

The children are still being housed in holding areas, foster care homes, and federal dormitories from coast to coast – with reported incidents of sexual abuse and other violence on the rise. 

In a development every bit as reprehensible and disturbing, the Post reported that the Administration has taken the first official steps toward overturning a longstanding court decree that limits the amount of time migrant children can be held in custody, away from their parents or guardians.

The simple fact is, the President and his family separation policy have caused this human catastrophe. And now, as I have pointed out before, it’s time for the President to use the legal and moral authority of his office to appoint a Special Administrator – a “get things done” leader who will marshal the full force of the federal government to reunite every family. The longer the wait, the more time-consuming and difficult the reunification process will become.

Meanwhile, the “Keep Our Families Together” Act, which I am sponsoring along with 189 other colleagues to permanently prevent this Administration, or any future Administration, from separating migrant families ever again, is gaining support.

The simple fact is, Republican leaders need to get serious about passing real, comprehensive immigration reform – and stop trying to fix the immigration mess with bad legislation concocted from behind closed doors, with every Democrat and a good share of their own caucus left out of consideration. There is plenty of rank and file support on both sides of the aisle to find common sense, bipartisan solutions to put a stop to the needless human tragedies that continue to occur on our southern border.

GRANT WATCH: Nearly $13.6 Million for Minnesota's 8th District

Under our watch, Minnesota’s 8th District has received more than $1.2 billion in federal grants for projects that create good paying jobs and make life better for people.

We were pleased to announce two more important grants for Minnesota's 8th district last week. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced a $10.1 million Great Lakes cleanup in Duluth. The projects will focus on the Minnesota Slip near the downtown Duluth waterfront and Slips 3 and C in the Duluth Harbor. This is part of a larger effort to restore the St. Louis River Area of Concern through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - via the Small Cities Development Program - announced that seven Minnesota 8th district cities will receive a total of nearly $3.5 million in federal block grants for economic development projects. The cities are Brainerd, Emily, Onamia, Deerwood, Willow River, Pine River, and Silver Bay.


The funding will create good paying local jobs, benefiting Minnesota’s 8th district economy and environment. 

To help keep you updated, we will be using the Monday Report to highlight important federal grants for the 8th District.

Our Week in DC

Several members of the Minnesota Association of Small Cities took time to meet with me last week about federal grant streamlining, infrastructure, transportation, and other economic development issues facing our region. The Minnesota Association of Small Cities is made up of 12 regions across the state and is represented by 12 Board of Directors and four At-Large members.

Representatives of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were meeting with Members of Congress to discuss assistance to Israel, growing threats on Israel's borders, and legislative efforts. The mission of AIPAC is to strengthen, protect, and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel. 

The 10th Annual Cutest Pets on Capitol Hill Contest announced this years winners. Our Legislative Assistant Eddie Wykind entered his two-and-a-half-year-old female Dachshund dog, Winnie. Winnie loves long strolls in the park, lounging on the couch at home, and eating left overs when no one is looking. Although Winnie did not win this year's competition, she did make the semi-finals. Winnie said, "I was so grateful fur the paw-some op-paw-tunity and although I didn't win I made a lot of fur-ends." Winnie is paw-ndering how to bring home the bacon next year. 

Our Week in Duluth

Hundreds of local Duluth residents gathered at the Bayfront Festival Park to celebrate Labor Day at the annual picnic organized by the Duluth Central Labor Body. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside joined locals for the celebration and snapped this photo. 

The Duluth Life House was recently awarded the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services' Commissioner's Circle of Excellence Award for their great work helping youth with mental health and wellness, find housing, education, and employment opportunities. Over the past 12 months more than 750 youth have utilized at least one Life House program. Pictured above (left to right) is Life House Program Director Erich Lutz, Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper, and Life House Executive Director Maude Dornfeld. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside attended the award ceremony on my behalf.

Our Week in Roseville 

Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership held a community meeting in Roseville to discuss how they plan to achieve an accurate census in 2020. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the meeting. 

Our Week in Brainerd

The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport kicked off their new expansion project. The project will provide new space for general aviation, which is growing, and allow the Wings Café to expand into the old general aviation section. In this photo, members of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission ceremonially break ground for the project. Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.

Our Week in St. Paul 

Lieutenant Colonel Lyle Rock (pictured left) presented our District Field Representative Rick Olseen (pictured right) the Minnesota National Guard Patrick Henry Award for his excellent work serving our military members and Veterans while working in my office. We are all extremely proud of Rick Olseen and so lucky to have him as a part of our 8th district field team! The Patrick Henry Award is designed to provide recognition to local officials and civic leaders, who in a position of great responsibility distinguished themselves with outstanding and exceptional service to the Armed Forces of the United States and/or the National Guard. 

Coming Up in Washington

This week:

  • The House is expected to take up a number of bills and resolutions this week, including H.Res.401, Urging China, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, India, and all nations to outlaw the dog and cat meat trade and to enforce existing laws against the trade. According to the bill’s sponsor, approximately 30,000,000 dogs and a large number of cats are killed for human consumption annually across the globe. This display of animal cruelty is not only inhumane, but also a threat to public health for citizens and international visitors. Our resolution affirms the United States’ commitment to the protection of animals and advances the animal protection movement rapidly growing around the world.


Stolen Judy Garland Ruby Red Slippers Found!

They’re not going back to Kansas - but if you’re a “Wizard of Oz” fan like me - you’ll be happy to know the famous ruby red slippers stolen from the Grand Rapids Judy Garland Museum in 2005 have been found! There truly is “no place like home” for these iconic slippers. The slippers, worn by Grand Rapids native Judy Garland’s character Dorothy in the 1939 classic “Wizard of Oz”, are estimated to have a value of $2 million to $3 million. That’s probably enough money to get the Tin Man a heart, the Scarecrow a brain, and the Cowardly Lion some courage!