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A Big Win for Career & Technical Education as Nolan-Sponsored Bill to Reauthorize the Perkins Act Heads to President's Desk
Click on the screen above to hear my remarks on the House floor urging my colleagues to support reauthorization of the bipartisan Perkins Act.
It’s not easy for a member of the minority party to get a big win in this largely unaccomplished Congress, but we chalked one up last week as both the House and Senate voted to send our bipartisan bill reauthorizing the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (CTE) to the President for his signature. I was one of six original cosponsors who teamed up to shepherd the measure through Congress.
Popular and highly effective, Perkins is the main source of federal funding to states to improve high school and college career and technical education programs. Some 169,000 Minnesota students are enrolled in one or more of the 9,019 CTE classes across our state.
During the debate, I pointed out to my colleagues that as we work to grow our economy, creating more good paying jobs is only half the battle. The other half is filling those jobs with highly trained and qualified people. That’s what reauthorizing the Perkins Act is all about.
Minnesota business owners and managers almost always tell me that CTE graduate employees stand out among the very best. They simply need more CTE-trained workers to fill the good paying jobs they have available. In fact, according to the Minnesota Department of Economic Development, 87% of the top line jobs open in our state go unfilled simply because employers can’t find candidates with the right skills.
This revised version of the bill will give states more flexibility to provide the resources necessary for some 12.5 million students nationwide to design programs and take classes to prepare for 21st Century careers. The focus will continue to be on high-demand fields such as construction, transportation, information technology, aviation, veterinary medicine, agriculture, accounting and robotics, just to name a few.
So this bill adds important new provisions to expand career and technical education at great schools like Pine Technical College in Pine City and Central Lakes College in Brainerd. It’s a win for everybody as we build more good paying jobs and growth into an economy in need of the best workers America can provide.
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.
House Passes Nolan Amendment to Help Address Great Lakes Plastic Pollution
This pile of plastic debris was collected from just one short stretch of Great Lakes shoreline. Taken together, the U.S. and Canada discard 22 million pounds of plastic into the Great Lakes every single year, according to a study by the Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology.
As the Administration continues its attack on environmental protection programs, federal efforts to clean up the flood of plastic debris and other pollutants fouling the Great Lakes will need strong support from Congress and the American people. Last week, we made progress in that direction as the House passed my amendment to the Save Our Seas Act expressing Congress’s strong support for reauthorizing and funding the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Action Plan.
The plan, developed in 2014, includes 53 specific steps to clean up and protect Great Lakes people, wildlife and shorelines from the terribly destructive effects of plastics, microplastics, abandoned vessels and other harmful pollutants. All steps are scheduled for completion in 2019.
Here and around the world, pollution of our precious waters by plastics and microplastics has reached crisis proportion. Just recently, it was reported that a whale washed up dead on a shore in Indonesia with 80 plastic bags in its stomach. That’s heartbreaking.
Taken together, the U.S. and Canada discard 22 million pounds of plastic into the Great Lakes every single year, according to a study by the Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology. The study reported that 80 percent of all the litter on the Great Lakes’ shoreline is made up of plastic. Watch the Monday Report for news on legislation we are preparing to help address the issue of plastics pollution of our waters and lands.
New Numbers Underscore Soo Locks Importance to Minnesota Jobs and Economy
A just released study reports that the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan support 6,100 good paying Minnesota jobs and $1.43 billion in economic activity every year in our state.
The importance of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to our economy and good paying jobs here in Minnesota came into the spotlight again last week with the release of a new study sponsored by the American Great Lakes Ports Association, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Association and several other groups across the Great Lakes Region.
The Soo Locks are the gateway linking the Port of Duluth, Two Harbors, and Lake Superior to the rest of the Great Lakes chain, supplying millions of tons of Iron Range taconite to the giant steel mills that underpin our manufacturing economy and our national defense. According to the analysis, conducted by a highly regarded firm specializing in maritime economics, this is what the Locks mean for Minnesota every year:
• 6,100 good paying jobs
• $1.45 billion in economic activity
• $409 million in personal income
• $1.26 billion in business revenue
• $227 million in tax revenue
These impressive numbers came just a few weeks after the House passed my bipartisan amendment to the Water Resources Act expressing the sense of Congress that construction of a new lock at the Soo Locks is vital to our national economy, national security, and national need for new critical infrastructure.
Moreover, this new analysis arrived just a month after release of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers economic study I requested more than two years ago – the results of which underscore the importance of the proposed $922 million Soo Locks expansion project to the future of Great Lakes navigation and literally millions of good paying jobs.
Among numerous findings favorable to the Soo Locks expansion, first authorized by Congress way back in 1986, is that the economic benefits of a new lock would outweigh the costs of construction and maintenance by $44.7 million every year– a benefit to cost ratio of 2.42 to 1.
As we have repeatedly pointed out, the Department of Homeland Security has determined that about 13% of our Gross National Product (GNP) must clear the locks every year on 1000-foot long laker ships, most of which originate from the Port of Duluth. According to the Department, an unexpected closure lasting six months would cost 11 million Americans their jobs, throwing the Nation into a depression far worse than what we experienced in 2008 and 2009.
The Homeland Security study further concluded that within six weeks of an unexpected closure at the Soo Locks, 75 percent of all U.S. steel production would cease and there would be a $1.1 trillion decrease in economic activity. The steel shutdown would reverberate through the supply chain, closing down Iron Range mines and production of automobiles, farm equipment, appliances and products necessary for our national defense.
EPA Must Stop Undermining Minnesota Ethanol!
Ethanol production accounted for 28 percent of Minnesota’s entire corn crop last year – 415 million bushels.
With farm income at a 12-year low, Minnesota ethanol – which adds 63 cents in value to every bushel of corn used to make it – can be a lifesaver for hard-pressed producers. In fact, ethanol production accounted for 28 percent of Minnesota’s entire corn crop last year – 415 million bushels.
So clearly, ethanol can be a powerful weapon to help offset economic retaliation by China and other trade cheater nations angry over U.S. – imposed tariffs and taxes. But first, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needs to implement and support strong renewable fuel standards (RFS) – not undermine them.
Under the current President, EPA has been helping the already incredibly profitable fossil fuel industry get even richer by granting “hardship” waivers to oil refineries, allowing them to reduce the amount of bio-fuels they are required to blend into gasoline. That needs to stop. In fact, we should be expanding the sale of higher ethanol gasoline blends. That’s why I have joined numerous other colleagues in cosponsoring the Consumer & Fuel Retail Choice Act (H.R.1311) to allow for year-round sale of E-15 fuels.
Minnesota is leading the way in the use of E-85 fuels. According to the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, Minnesotans had used a record 29.9 million gallons by the end of May 2018 – a 57 percent increase in sales over the 19 million gallons sold during all of 2017.
The Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association provides some highlights illustrating ethanol’s remarkable contributes to our state:
•Ethanol makes up just under 13% of all the fuel used in Minnesota.
•Supports thousands of good-paying jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and energy.
•Contributes $2.17 billion to Minnesota’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year.
•Adds $1.5 billion to Minnesota’s annual household income.
•Pays $192 million in state and local taxes every year.
Our Week in DC
Click on the screen above to hear my remarks at the Problem Solvers Press Conference last week where we rolled out our Break the Gridlock proposal.The simple fact is that at its core, breaking the gridlock in Congress– which we all want to do for the good of our Nation and our people – requires a return to Regular Order. The Problems Solvers Caucus - made up of Democrats and Republicans - held a press conference last week to introduce a bipartisan proposal to break the gridlock in Washington. I spoke about the need to put an end to the closed rules that shut down debate and leave our best ideas on the cutting room floor – and restore democracy right here in the Congress.
Members of the Christians United For Israel Minnesota Chapter (CUFI) stopped by my office for a meeting to discuss matters concerning Israel last week. Founded in 2006, CUFI is the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States with over 4 million members.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been pushing to address differences between federal and state laws. Last week, I met with members of NORML from the 8th Congressional District to discuss potential policy solutions going forward.
Future farmers were in Washington for their annual National Future Farmers Association (FFA) State Officer Summit. Student leaders met with their Members of Congress to discuss advocacy and government relations.
Our Week in Duluth
It was a great honor to receive the Congressional Impact Award from the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Duluth Minnesota. The hard cold fact is that Congress needs to dedicate more resources to research preventative methods, treatments, and ultimately a cure for cancer. Lung cancer kills 159,000 American's every year. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed my bipartisan amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill increasing support for the Defense Department’s lung cancer research program from $14 million to $20 million dollars for 2019.
Over a hundred union brothers and sisters gathered in Duluth for their annual Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Councils convention. As a Teamster, I know that if we want to build the middle class, we need to support our union building and construction trades. The 14 unions represented at the event advocate for fair wages, safe work environments, and affordable healthcare.
The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, First Witness Advocacy Center, and Minnesota Children’s’ Alliance held the Stand Against Child Abuse Conference of 2018. Workshops and speakers lasted throughout the day on various topics related to child abuse. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended on my behalf.
The University of Minnesota Duluth Large Lakes Observatory Scientists took local leaders and representatives on the Blue Heron Research Vessel to discuss the findings of scientists and undergraduates students at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Two different vessels were deployed, one measuring the temperature of water at different depths and chlorophyll levels, and the other extracting samples from the bottom to check for specific minerals and materials. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended on my behalf.
The Duluth Minnesota Workforce Center held a job fair for military Veterans with over 30 different companies and organizations. Along with the multitude of employment options, the Workforce Center also had a calendar for military Veterans who seeking more expertise in certain areas and will be holding training sessions multiple times a month. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead snapped this photo at the event.
The Backlist Brewery in Duluth is creating some of Minnesota's tastiest beverages and is locally owned. Pictured above are two owners, Jon Loss and Elissa Hansen. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen was able to tour the facility and see first-hand the process of brewing beer.
Our Week in Mora
Officials closed down sections of Highway 65 in Mora after the area received nearly 10 inches of rain last week. It took several days for the water to drain off the roadway. Highway 65 is now open. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen took this photo before officials reopened the highway, and if you look closely, you can see water is still over parts of the road.
Kanabec County Veterans Service Officer Erica Bliss hosted her monthly "Coffee Talk for Veterans." The event provides a free breakfast for the military Veterans, and an opportunity to discuss issues they may be having with benefits or healthcare. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen spoke to attendees about the constituent services my office has available to those who need assistance working with the Veterans Administration.
Our Week in Aitkin
Local Aitkin County officials gathered for a meeting to discuss recent flooding, human services, and broadband expansion. Ross Wagner (pictured left), the Aitkin County Economic Development and Forest Industry Coordinator also discussed proposals to expand broadband coverage in rural areas of Aitkin County. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the meeting and captured this photo.
Our Week in Gull Lake
The US Army Corps of Engineers held a public meeting to gather input on the potential closure of a portion of the Gull Lake Dam Road. So many citizens attended the first meeting session that the representatives of the Army Corps held a second session. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.
Our Week in Virginia
The City of Virginia and the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) completed a 5-year renovation project at the historic Ivy Manor for low income tenants. The project utilized Federal Low-Income and Historic Tax Credits. Ivy Manor was built in 1923 as a single room occupancy building with shared bathrooms. Today, Ivy Manor provides more than 40 units of housing for those in need
Tourists Visiting the Northland Experience Minnesota's Tallest Bridge
Tourists from across Minnesota and the country heading north on Highway 53 through Virginia are getting their first look at Minnesota's tallest bridge, referred to by locals as the "Taconite Sky Bridge." It cost more than $156 million to build, included 27 local subcontractors, and created more than 100 good paying construction jobs.
The bridge was built with 100% American steel and union labor – on time, on budget, and without a single worker injury during more than 515,000 hours of construction. Range iron ore is the most important ingredient in the 10-million pounds of steel beams across the span, the 800,000 pounds of stainless steel rebar that support the deck, and the 30-inch steel piles sunk 175-feet through some of the hardest rock in the world.
This magnificent structure stands as a powerful statement underscoring the resilience of the Iron Range and our ability to grow our economy, create more good paying jobs, and build a brighter future.