Three big wins for Minnesota!
Nolan Passes Measures to Finish North Country Trail, Repair Soo Locks, and Battle Invasive Species
Our North Country Scenic Trails bill puts the finishing touches on America’s longest hiking trail.
Even while serving in the minority party in an unproductive Congress, it’s still possible to get good things done by reaching across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship.
We proved it again last week, passing our North Country Scenic Trails bill along with two important amendments to the all-important Water Resources Development Act – one measure to help advance urgently needed repairs to the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and another that doubles funding for a critical program to battle invasive species like Zebra Mussels and Asian Carp.
Just scroll down through this edition of the Monday Report to read about these developments in more detail.
By the way, take another look at your May 28th edition of the Monday Report to see that last week’s successes came on the heels of two important measures we were able to pass as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. One amendment reaffirmed that iron ore and steel are critical to our national economy and our national security, and a second amendment requires the Defense Department to fully and publicly account for all our troops deployed around the world.
We were also able to secure a vote by the full House on an amendment to cut off $69 billion in funding for endless wars of choice that have cost us so much blood and treasury. While unsuccessful, the very fact that Republican leadership allowed the vote demonstrates that Democrats and Republicans alike are growing sick and tired of these costly, destructive, never-ending conflicts.
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's North Country National Scenic Trail Bill
Millions of Americans love our hiking trails – and the good exercise and camaraderie they offer. With that in mind, the House last week unanimously passed my bipartisan bill (H.R. 1026) to incorporate some 400 miles of existing world class trails (the Kekekabic Trail, Border Route Trail and Superior Hiking Trail) into the North Country National Scenic Trail).
It’s important to note that with help from local and state officials, landowners, volunteers and other stakeholders, we’ve finished the trail with a new route that skirts 100 miles of environmentally sensitive wetlands and bogs that had been included under a previous plan. And as I made clear to my colleagues, this measure doesn’t involve any new dollars or take any land through eminent domain.
What the bill does do is put the finishing touches on a unified 4,600-mile national hiking trail system that stretches from the plains of North Dakota through Minnesota’s Arrowhead all the way to the forests of Vermont, where it will connect with the Appalachian Trail. (See the map below)
Make no mistake - this bill is about much more than exercise and fun. It’s also about growing our rural economy. Here in Minnesota, our trails provide an extra boost to a $13.6 billion annual tourism economy that already supports 254,000 good paying jobs. Why? Because trail users get hungry and thirsty, so they spend money in our restaurants. They get tired, so they spend money staying in our hotels. They need supplies, so they patronize local businesses. Visitors fall in love with our region, so they return again and again.
The American Hiking Association recently completed a study showing that when all the dollars spent on trail recreation work through the economy, the multiplier effect reaches $196 billion a year – supporting 768,000 good paying jobs nationwide.
Moreover, experts tell us that for youngsters, hiking in the great outdoors helps alleviate something called the ‘nature deficit,’ a fancy term that means kids don’t go outside much anymore. In fact, according to one study, the average kid in America today spends 7 minutes of every day outside, and 7 hours in front of a computer screen or a TV set. Getting outside hiking is great for everyone’s physical and mental health – kids and adults alike. And it’s good for our economic health as well.
Successful Nolan Amendment is Big Boost for New Soo Lock Vital to National Economy and National Security
Thousand-foot long Laker ships like the Mesabi Miner carry billions of dollars worth of Minnesota iron ore, manufactured goods, forest products and farm products through the Poe Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan - and on through the Great Lakes chain all the way to the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean.
In a big boost for Minnesota and the entire Great Lakes Region, the House last week passed my bipartisan amendment expressing the sense of Congress that construction of a new lock at the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan is vital to our national economy, national security, and national need for new critical infrastructure.
By adding my measure to the all-important Water Resources Development Act, Democrats and Republicans alike have served notice on the President that he and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers need to move this critical project to the top of their priority list.
In terms of our region, the Soo Locks are the gateway linking the Port of Duluth and Lake Superior to the rest of the Great Lakes chain, feeding and fueling the entire Midwest-Northeast economy with Iron Range taconite for steel mills and auto and appliance manufacturers, as well as Minnesota agricultural commodities and manufactured goods for millions of people.
As we have repeatedly pointed out to the President, 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. The steel shutdown would reverberate through the supply chain, closing down Iron Range mines and the production of automobiles, farm equipment, appliances and products necessary for our national defense. As a result, economic activity in the U.S. would plummet by $1.1 trillion dollars.
So the stakes are high, and passage of my amendment services notice on the President that Members of Congress and the people we represent want the Soo Locks fixed without further delay.
Nolan Amendment Doubles Funds for Fighting Invasive Species
The war on Zebra Mussels, Asian Carp, and hundreds of other invasive species that threaten lakes and waterways here in Minnesota and throughout the Nation will get an extra $1 million in 2019 under my successful bipartisan amendment to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
Specifically, the amendment, which passed the House last week by voice vote, doubles the funds available for the Aquatic Nuisance Control Program to $2 million for 2019.
By way of background, the Aquatic Nuisance Control Program is supposed to be leading the way with cutting-edge research to accelerate the fight against invasive species. Problem is, it’s drastically underfunded. And as a result, aquatic invaders like Zebra Mussels have infested more than 130 bodies of water here in Minnesota, and thousands more around the Nation.
Every shipping season, Zebra Mussels cause tens of millions of dollars in delays while workers painstakingly remove them from Laker ships carrying Minnesota iron ore and other goods to markets throughout the Great Lakes Region.
To give you an idea of how fast these creatures spread, one female Zebra Mussel can produce half a million offspring every year. And they have already killed more than 10,000 Loons across the Great Lakes region to due botulism.
Zebra Mussels are just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout Minnesota and the Great Lakes Region, invasive species are swarming and choking snails, clams and other native fish. They are harming outdoor recreation and causing injury to people who walk on our beaches and swim in our lakes. And they costing us thousands of good paying jobs by delaying shipments while they are painstakingly removed from the Laker ships that carry billions of dollars worth of Minnesota iron ore and other exports so vital to our national economy and our national security.
Administration's Policy Separating Immigrant Children and Parents Recalls Cultural Genocide of the 1800's
Like thousands of their counterparts across the Nation, these young Indian children were taken from their parents and sent to attend this “Indian Training School” in Oregon, where they were made to change their names, wear “Western style” uniforms, learn English, and convert to Christianity.
It’s important to protect our national borders, but the President’s shameful, terrible, and unnecessary policy of separating children from their parents when families enter the U.S. illegally isn’t about border protection. As Administration officials have freely admitted, the practice of throwing immigrant parents into the criminal justice system, and their children into federal foster care for days and sometimes weeks, is meant to intimidate and instill fear in people who are already fleeing from terrible violence and repression in their home countries.
It appears Congress may finally consider one or more immigration bills over the summer, and putting a stop to this policy of ripping families apart needs to be part of any measure we pass and send to the Senate.
In fact, the Administration’s policy brings to mind the shameful cultural genocide of the late 1800’s, when, in the name of “civilization,” thousands of Indian children were taken from their parents and put into government boarding schools – forced to change their names, learn English, wear Western-style clothing and convert to Christianity. The devastating effects of what amounted to state-sponsored kidnapping are still being felt today in Indian Country, where rates of drug abuse, suicide and crime are often far higher than the norm.
The trauma that separation from parents can cause for children has led the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Child Welfare League of America, among others, to strongly urge the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to stop breaking up families.
“Separation from family leaves children more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, no matter what the care setting. In addition, traumatic separation from parents creates toxic stress in children and adolescents that can profoundly impact their development,” they said.
Nolan Receives Top Honor from Greater D.C. Chapter U of M Alumni Association
It was a great honor to receive the 2018 "Above Average Award" from the Greater D.C. Chapter University of Minnesota Alumni Association. Pictured here from left to right: My good friend Jim DeChaine, Ph.D., Finnish Ambassador to the U.S. Kristi Kauppi, University of Minnesota Alumni Association Representative Susan Heltemes, Retired U.S. Army General Clara Adams-Ender, and Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute Norm Ornstein.
Our Week in DC
It was great meeting with the Ambassador of Finland to the United States, Kirsti Kauppi, to discuss the Finnish system of universal health care and many other important topics. Finnish Americans continue to contribute to our state as leaders of industry, education, and local government.
Representatives from the Minnesota Propane Association stopped by my office for a meeting to discuss several important topics relating to the propane industry including, exempting propane shipments from the Jones Act, extending tax credits for propane, and easing regulations for commercial propane truck drivers.
Members of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies came to visit me at my office in Washington to talk about important legislation, unmanned aerial systems, private air space, and automated vehicles. We had a great discussion and shared a few laughs.
A group of Wildlands Network representatives stopped in for a meeting last week to discuss how we can work together to better protect land. Over the past quarter-century, they have worked hard to create conservation plans for many regions of North America, showing how wildlands can be pieced back together over time.
Our Week in Duluth
The annual Reason to Hope luncheon, sponsored by the Minnesota Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, was held in Duluth last week. The luncheon raises funds to support Alzheimer's research, programs, and services. Nolan Congressional District Director Jeff Anderson attended the meeting.
The Harbor Technical Advisory Committee, including members from the Metropolitan Interstate Council (MIC), the City of Duluth, the U.S. Coast Guard, and many other organizations, met at the Duluth International Airport to discuss sustainable transportation choices and the increasing need for investment in infrastructure. The MIC is planning a long-term vision for a transportation system that both supports the many needs of people and commerce, and is also economically, socially, and environmentally viable over time. Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended on my behalf.
The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce hosted an informative discussion, Railroads 2018, where those who attended had the opportunity to talk with representatives from BNSF Railway, CN Railway, and the Minnesota Regional Railroads Association. They talked about the investments railroads are making in Minnesota in addition to first responder training and technology deployed to improve safety, including Positive Train Control. Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended the meeting and snapped this photo.
Our Week in North Branch
Paul Miller, a 35 year teacher in Brooklyn Center, presented Education Minnesota’s plan for addressing school shootings and violence to a group of concerned citizens at a City of North Branch Community Safety Meeting. My Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the meeting.
Our Week in Chisago Lakes
Five towns in the Chisago Lakes Area are working together to become Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Communities. Specifically, they will work with the Minnesota Office of Military Affairs to assist Active Duty Military members, their families, and military Veterans and their families. Pictured above is the group working on the many steps they need to meet to become a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Community. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the meeting and captured this photo.
Our Week in Aitkin
The Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Aitkin Growth and APEX to present an Economic Development Workshop and Legislative Luncheon. The event, which was held at the American Legion, featured speakers from Explore Minnesota, APEX, and a panel of state legislators along with representatives from federal offices. In this picture, Nicole Lalum from Explore Minnesota describes the connection between tourism and economic development. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.
Our Week in Cross Lake
The National Loon Center Foundation hosted another wonderful event - “The Most Magical Bird in the World: The Common Loon.” In this picture, National Loon Center Foundation Secretary Carla White goes over some last minute program details with me. Hats off to Carla and all of the other community leaders, stakeholders, and supporters who have worked so hard to get this project going.
Our Week in Tower
Representatives from the Boise Forte Band of Chippewa, US Steel Representatives, Minnesota DNR, and the Minnesota State Legislature attended a ribbon cutting for the completion of a new Lake Vermillion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park Campground. Minnesota State Senator Tom Bakk, who was a champion for the project, stated that this campground will allow middle class Minnesotans access to the beauty of Lake Vermillion. Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside attended the ribbon cutting.
Coming Up in Washington
- The House takes up more than three dozen bills on the opioid crisis and related issues, including the Ensuring Patient Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatments Act of 2018. I am the lead Democratic sponsor of the measure.
With Help From Four Minnesotans, Washington Capitals Bring Home Stanley Cup
For the first time in franchise history, the Washington Capitals have claimed their very own Stanley Cup. And although the Minnesota Wild didn't make it to the big game, I am extremely proud of the fact that 4 Minnesota natives helped bring home the victory for the Capitals. They are T.J Oshie of Warroad, Matt Niskanen of Virginia, Shane Gersich of Chaska, and Travis Boyd, of Hopkins. Congratulations to the Capitals on their hard-earned and well-deserved win!