Printed on 10/25/08

Issues



As your state representative in District 35, some of the key issues I will stay committed to are:

Cutting taxes and limiting government growth

Ronald Reagan had it right when he noted that: Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. You will always be able to count on me to fight to keep your taxes low and to limit the expansion of government.

Defending pro-family policies

We all value the role of marriage and family as the cornerstones of a strong society. Families cultivate and pass on to the next generation the enduring American values that make our nation great. I'll work to defend traditional marriage and family from the special interests. And when it comes to life, every life -- from conception to natural death -- is precious and deserving of the strongest protections under law.

Protecting your rights to own firearms and property

I agree with our founding fathers that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right, not a collective right and I'll always work to preserve it. I have been endorsed by the NRA and received and A rating from them. And I'll fight for our constitutionally protected right to own property.

Fighting for the volunteer fire departments

As a former career forester and wild land firefighter, I am committed to getting our volunteer fire departments the tools they need to protect the citizens and property in their districts. I will work with local chiefs and boards to develop innovative legislation aimed at aiding volunteer recruitment, retention and training as key factors in keeping seasoned volunteers in the fire service.

Government Accountability

If the voters choose to send me to House of Representatives, I will introduce a bill creating the South Dakota Accountability and Transparency Portal, to give taxpayers a user-friendly way to see how lawmakers are spending their money. With the click of a mouse, citizens will be able to look over the shoulder of legislators and quickly and easily gain a vantage point on the government's activities. They will be able to search categories of spending, whether money spent accomplished the purposes of the expenditure, numbers of new employees hired and for what purpose, and so on. Taxpayers rightly expect"and frankly, deserve"more accountability and transparency from their government. This program, which I will push to have funded within existing state revenues, like Missouri did, will take us a step towards building greater trust with those whom government is in business to serve.

Economy

The sluggish economy is the leading issue among those in my district. I've visited with hundreds of voters in the district and have found that they feel the same way most any working family would: they are concerned about the price of gas, the rising cost of groceries and the everyday necessities of life, and the high price of health care. They are worried about the specter of tax increases in a down economy, and how they will make ends meet. As winter sets in, they will add to their list of concerns the rising price of keeping their homes heated. I'm running for office because it is past time for government to tighten its belt, cut wasteful spending, and clear the obstacles to energy production and the creation of good paying jobs in South Dakota. Getting government on the side of the people is absolutely critical if we hope to accelerate our emergence from this economic downturn.

Road building and infrastructure

Gasoline taxes that build the Highway Trust Fund in the Federal Government, haven't been sufficient to keep pace with road building and repair needs for many years. While some 75% of our state's highway construction budget comes from this fund, there simply isn't enough to take care of this most basic government function. Moreover, the higher gas prices are causing people to conserve more, which mean less gas tax revenue. And when our highway system is in disrepair, our citizens are unsafe and our commerce is hindered.

Lawmakers should first insist that highway investments be given a higher priority within existing state revenues. There is always the opportunity to cut from non-essential programs and take care of the government's principle obligations first. Next, we should be willing to entertain public-private partnerships where it makes sense so the state has access to the capital it needs to construct new highways. In such situations, citizens may prefer to pay a small user-fee for use of the road rather than to be taxed for a roadway they may never drive. In either case, we should take it up with the people of South Dakota in as open a fashion as possible and give them the choice.

Term limits

I do support term limits. Limiting tenure in office ensures that our citizens enjoy the benefits of being served by everyday people who understand Main Street, rather than being handled by out-of-touch political elites. While it's true that voters can vote out an elected official at any time they so choose, in practice, we all know that too many politicians find a way to communicate that they are more useful to their constituents than they actually are. We have all seen this happen on both sides of the aisle. When politicians become entrenched, they wind up becoming an institution unto themselves. Is it any wonder Congress is so dysfunctional these days? In my view, term limits offer an appropriate level of protection to our citizens who expect to be served, not used.

Education

While there are many great schools in our community, not every school can meet the individual learning needs of every child. Our education policy should encourage greater parental choice by making more educational options available to parents and children. I believe in getting the resources teachers need into the classroom where they will have the greatest impact, and that we must always insure strong results-based accountability throughout our education system.


One of the main problems with education funding is that too much of our tax money goes to pay for bureaucracy, not for classroom instruction. We should fight to get more funding into the classroom, into the hands of the teachers who can put it to use better than the bureaucrats. With each new increase in funding, taxpayers should require greater accountability of the education system.

We should be willing to implement programs that provide merit pay increases to teachers who demonstrate high performance -- and only for those that are able to perform at a high level. Why would we want to reward poor performers with more money?

We should also be willing to introduce more parent choice into our public school system. South Dakota should pass public charter school legislation allowing groups of parents and community leaders to form new locally-controlled, fully accountable charter schools. South Dakota is one of ten states that are yet to put the many benefits of this education innovation to use for our children. The added element of greater parent choice in public education, will improve schools across the board, and allow taxpayers to enjoy the benefit of getting better results for the same investment.

Energy

Our economy, our military strength and indeed our national security are reliant upon our ability as a nation to provide for our own energy needs. America has truly been blessed by our Creator with an enormous wealth of energy potential. But it is absolutely of no benefit to us if we are unable to utilize these vast resources.

Our hands have literally been tied by radical environmentalists, incompetent in their scientific knowledge, and politically motivated to halt our status as a leader of the free world. Consider for a moment statements made by some of these radical experts who would stymie our growth in energy development:

David Foreman in his book Ecodefense wrote: We must make this an insecure and uninhabitable place for capitalists and their projects. This is the best contribution we can make towards protecting the earth and struggling for a liberating society. Vol. 10

Dr. Helen Coldicott an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, in her book Toxic Terror wrote: Free enterprise really means rich people get richer. And they
have the freedom to exploit and psychologically rape their fellow human beings in the process. Capitalism is destroying the earth. P.53,54.

Maurice Strong, Undersecretary General of the UN recently stated: Isnt the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isnt it our responsibility to bring it about?

Dr. Schneider, Professor of earth sciences at Stanford University wrote: We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. From his book Our Fragile Earth P.45

Environmentalists are also fond of saying: America consumes 25% of the worlds oil reserves. But they conveniently forget that America also feeds half of the worlds populace; and to do this of course, requires huge amounts of energy.

While I do believe in upholding the highest environmental standards for energy production, I also know energy is our life-blood and as a nation we must strive to stay on the cutting edge of this critical issue.

As your representative in Pierre, you can count on me to support the development of domestic energy sources, not only from a national standpoint, but locally here in our own state of South Dakota.

We must move ahead with nuclear, oil and natural gas as well as clean coal technologies. We need to develop wind power, solar and bio-fuel technologies to supplement our natural resources and ever growing demands for energy. It is my belief that if we can get back into these basic modes for energy development and production, we will see a restoration of our economy and reduce the risk to our national security.

















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Don Kopp for HD 35

Conservative Leadership for Rapid City