I do believe the key is to diversify our economy, as tough as that might be with our low population. I support incentives for attracting new industries. Tourism should be bolstered, and I believe our Agriculture industry could expand. We need to reduce regulatory burden on business and industry to entice growth in all these areas.
At the same time, we need to be very supportive of our current extractive industries, including mining of coal, uranium, trona, and the extraction of oil and gas resources. We need to maintain our status as the preeminent 'Energy State'. To that end, I believe we need to develop our wind, solar and geothermal resources as well. I view them as part of our extractive industries, and must include them in our portfolio. The key to keeping our existing industries viable is technology.
While we should continue to oppose oppressive federal regulation, we need to find ways to overcome the carbon issue, as it will not go away. Developing new technologies will be a key component to our success. We also need to find new ways to use our resources, especially coal. New and changing technologies in wind, solar and nuclear will also be the key to building a diverse energy economy in Wyoming. The School of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming will be crucial, along with our industry partners, to making us the premier ‘Energy State’ not only in the U.S., but the entire world. A robust energy industry will give us the resources to entice other non-energy related businesses to Wyoming to help diversify our economy.
First of all, I absolutely believe it is a State responsibility to fund education. I believe many groups need to be accountable for education in Wyoming. However, as a person who is a firm believer in limited governmental intervention, I believe that a State created system of accountability will not provide the outcomes we are looking for. The Legislature needs to be a part of the solution for greater accountability, but not the driver. This should be done by educators and parents, not bureaucrats. And the public needs to be heavily involved. The accountability measures that must be developed must be easily applied, straightforward, and effective. Most accountability measures used around the country have tended to be a reward and punishment system, similar to the policies of the No Child Left Behind Act, which created many unintended consequences. The Legislature needs to understand that accountability cannot simply be legislated. I believe that the educators in our State, along with parents, and a concerned public, all have a true desire to see our children succeed. Accountability policies need to be developed by these groups. Then, the Legislature can and should act as an enabler for effective education accountability in Wyoming.
The education of our youth and our workforce is crucial to our State's successful growth. I am an advocate of the Common Core State Standards that Wyoming has adopted. They provide the needed benchmarks for our students, teachers and families to understand what is required at each grade level. High standards are necessary to ensure that all students have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college and future careers. Additionally, they ensure all students are well prepared to collaborate and compete with their peers in other states and abroad.
Training of our workforce is equally critical. The State needs to support business and industry by providing resources to effect a well-educated and trained workforce. The State can continue to provide programs through the Department of Workforce Services to encourage Wyoming citizens to seek training for jobs that an expanding and diverse economy will require.
I am not opposed to looking at an expansion of Medicaid under federal health insurance reform. Our healthcare system is already paying for much of the care that would be covered by the expanded Medicaid services, through uncompensated care that they provide, so it seems illogical to refuse the federal funds. However, a logical and well thought out plan on how we manage the expansion is critical.
Before we agree to an expansion here in Wyoming, we should insist on a detailed, feasible plan for how the State will deal with the costs of the program, should the federal government not be able to provide the funding in the future. Undoubtedly, a pool of recipients will be created that will come to expect and rely on those expanded services. We either need a plan to phase out those services, a solution which is not very palatable for most folks, including me, or we need to identify a plausible and sustainable funding source that will be available to continue the program.
I believe that abortion is not a legal and morally valid choice. The life of a new human being starts at fertilization; a scientific fact. At fertilization (conception), a human egg and a human sperm join, and a new individual human being with its own unique genetic code is created. No one has the right to terminate that life. Abortion is murder, plain and simple.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
- Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
Marriage, historically was a contract based upon a voluntary private agreement by a man and a woman to become husband and wife. Marriage has been viewed as the basis of the family unit and vital to the preservation of morals and civilization. I would have prefered that the term marriage retain its historical meaning and remain as a union between a man and a woman, and that same-sex unions be called by another name and be afforded the same rights as current heterosexual married couples have. Iin light of the current decisions decided in our courts, I will not support legislation to deny marriage to unions of same-sex couples.
This amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms, a right that dates back to England before the Magna Carta, an is emboied in our US and Wyoming Constiturions. I firmly believe in the ability of our citizens to protect their lives and their property, and the right to bear arms is a critical component of this intrinsic value. Regulation of guns should be measured, minimal and aimed at criminals, not law-abiding citizens. I oppose mandatory registration of guns for law-abiding citizens, but support increased penalties for use of guns in the commission of a crime, particularly for repeat offenders. I do oppose fire arms in schools and government meetings without the consent of their governing bodies.
“Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
- George Washington, President of the United States of America
I believe that society needs to encourage responsible behavior in our citizens. Government should find ways to encourage students to stay in school, to seek productive careers, to be concerned about their health, and generally lead productive lives. In doing so, we would find fewer citizens falling between the cracks, and needing public assistance. There will always be some who need this necessary assistance, but personal responsibility would require that they have some skin in the game. I would seek to find that balance in the social programs that the State participates in.
Wyoming currently has the second largest gender wage gap of all 50 states at 69 cents on the dollar. Gender wage disparity is a historical problem that not only has affected Wyoming, but the nation at large. The income gap between men and women exists in every state of the union.
I believe we should earnestly seek for equality in wages, but unlike others, who would seek regulation on business to force change, I favor incentives to help change attitudes and policies of employers, as it is a market place issue. Legislation should be aimed at encouraging the elimination of barriers that hinder women in the workforce. A good place to start is in the area of child care.
While incentivizing the private sector into taking measures to reduce barriers for women in the high-paying labor side of the energy industry is a positive step, ultimately I believe the solution is economic diversification. We need to create high-paying jobs with good career paths that women are comfortable in seeking and that allow them to stay near to family, such as in high tech and light manufacturing. We should also encourage women to be become entrepreneurs and create businesses of their own.
I believe a strong family unit is the key to growing productive, functional citizens. The State should encourage and support programs that enhance family cohesion. There are a variety of entities that seek to promote healthy relationships through education and training. The State should support interested local and tribal government, as well as private agencies that seek to strengthen families. At stake is not only the health of the individual family, but also the prosperity and future of society.
Having served in the military, and having experienced first-hand the sacrifices that many of our military members and their families have endured while providing an unparalleled service to our country and our state, I believe it is our moral and ethical obligation to assist our Wyoming Military Department, its members, and their families where we can.