Blunt, Heitkamp Honored with Legislator of the Year Award
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 15, 2017) – Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward.
The Agricultural Retailers Association recognized two legislators who have led efforts to defend the industry’s freedom to operate: Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). Both were named ARA’s 2016 Legislator of the Year.
ARA recognized the senators for leading regulatory relief from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s illegal Process Safety Management retail exemption enforcement memo, legislative efforts to fix the unnecessary and duplicative permitting required by the National Pollution Distribution Elimination System and overturning the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States final regulations.
“It is an honor to present Sen. Blunt and Sen. Heitkamp with ARA’s Legislator of the Year award,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. “The work they did – across the aisle – to help block PSM enforcement, as well as fight against EPA’s WOTUS rule and NPDES has been invaluable to ag retailers. We appreciate their dedication and continued support for the agriculture industry.”
ARA presents its Legislator of the Year award annually to a member, or members, of Congress who champion legislation important to the agricultural retail industry. The awards were presented during the ARA Board of Directors and Committee Meetings in Washington, D.C.
Blunt accepted his award Monday evening and addressed ARA board and committee members.
“As the son of dairy farmers, I have a deep appreciation for the role agricultural retailers play in sustaining a thriving agriculture industry,” Blunt said. “Missouri has more than 100,000 individual farms that depend on agricultural retailers to meet their needs, and the last thing Washington should do is get in the way. I am honored to receive this award, and will continue working to rein in excessive, burdensome red tape and bring more transparency and accountability to the regulatory process.”
Blunt serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, and is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
>He has been a leader for ARA and the ag retail industry on key labor-related issues such as the OSHA PSM retail exemption enforcement memo. As Chairman of the key Labor, HHS Appropriations Subcommittee he was able to include report language in the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill blocking OSHA from being able to enforce this illegal memo against agricultural retail locations.
“We have a real opportunity to turn around (regulation),” Blunt said while discussing the PSM issue and other regulations impacting agricultural retailers. “There has never been an accident involving anhydrous ammonia when current rules are being followed… so I told the Department of Labor: you can’t spend money (to enforce PSM on ag retailers) until you come up with a reason this is a problem. Of course, they couldn’t.”
Blunt is supporting the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act), which would require an up-or-down vote on any regulation with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more.
“Regulators have not only been unaccountable but out of control,” Blunt said. “Rules need public scrutiny. We’re going to look for every opportunity to hold regulators accountable.”
Blunt currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and will be an influential leader during the 115th Congress. He was elected to the senate in 2010 following a career in public service that included time as a university president, teacher and seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was named Majority Whip earlier in his career than any Member of Congress in eight decades.
Before serving in Congress, he was a history teacher, a county official, and in 1984 became the first Republican elected as Missouri’s Secretary of State in more than 50 years. Blunt also served four years as the president of Southwest Baptist University, his alma mater, in Bolivar, Mo. Senator Blunt earned an M.A. in history from Missouri State University.
Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Ag Committee, accepted her award Wednesday morning during the ARA Board of Directors meeting. In a short discussion with the board, she addressed PSM, WOTUS, and trade.
She fought for more than a year to keep OSHA’s PSM standard from going into effect, which would have applied tough, across-the-board restrictions on agricultural retailers that sell anhydrous ammonia, a common fertilizer, burdening retailers and farmers. She led Senate Democrats working to withdraw the memo via letters, oversight hearings, and support for report language included in the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations funding bill.
“I’m proud to receive this award, but I’m even prouder of the work I spearheaded with North Dakota agricultural retailers to stop this standard from hurting our farmers and the rural businesses that support them,” Heitkamp said. “Had the rule gone into effect, it would have forced anhydrous ammonia retailers to shut down due to excessive compliance costs, forcing farmers to pay more and travel greater distances with anhydrous—and that certainly wouldn’t have increased safety. Going forward, I’ll keep fighting wrongheaded federal policies to make sure farmers, ranchers, and the businesses that support them continue to thrive.”
Heitkamp also co-sponsored legislation (S. 1500) that would have eliminated the NPDES PGP requirements and aligns with farmers and ag retailers in her efforts to withdraw EPA’s WOTUS final rule. She voted with Senate Republicans on its repeal.
“WOTUS is a classic example of Congresses failure to do what they need to do, which is to debate and legislate,” Heitkamp told the ARA Board of Directors. “The fundamental issue of jurisdictional water is still up in the air.”
The first female Senator elected from North Dakota, Heitkamp serves as the Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Immediately upon taking office in 2013, she helped write, negotiate, and pass a long-term, comprehensive Farm Bill.
Heitkamp previously served as former director of the one-of-a-kind Dakota Gasification synfuels plant, North Dakota’s Attorney General, and state Tax Commissioner.
She holds a B.A. from the University of North Dakota and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School. She resides in Mandan, N.D., with her husband and two children.