Why I am Running for Governor of Wyoming

Policy Positions were posted March 15, 2018.

My commitment to Wyoming

  • I am pro family, pro liberty, and pro effective and smart government.
  • I have been called to serve, just like so many in my family before me have served. I am called to serve my community, my state, and my Country as a problem solver; and as an advocate for our citizens, our industries, our communities, our schools, our students and our families.
  • I am committed to ensuring that our future, and the future of those who come after us, is full of promise and the American ideal.
  • I commit to you, the citizens of Wyoming, that I will serve you as Governor with honor, with integrity, with courage, with compassion, with kindness, and with strength.
  • I commit to you, the citizens of Wyoming, that I will fight to protect your liberties, your freedoms, and our great state.

We must honor, adhere to, and follow our Constitution

  • Our constitutional framework was unique in the world when it was created and remains one of the most significant developments in governing philosophy in human history. Our Constitution limits the reach and power of the federal government, with individual freedom and liberty being the cornerstone of our Republic.
  • Unlike the pre-United States historical view of the relationship between governments and individuals, our constitutional framework confirmed that our individual rights do not come from the government, but from God. As laid out in the very Preamble to the Wyoming Constitution:

“We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political and religious liberties, and desiring to secure them to ourselves and perpetuate them to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

  • The significance of this recognition cannot be overstated. If our innate civil rights and liberties are not granted by government, then government has no ability to take them away.
  • Our forefathers and mothers were people of faith. They understood that you could not have a just and fair government unless you had a moral society. Our Constitutions are based on those principles.
  • We must return to the foundational Constitutional principles of limited government, personal autonomy, personal freedom, and personal responsibility. We must demand that our government focus upon carrying out those purposes for which it was created: national security, criminal justice and civil law. We must demand that our leaders follow the Constitution, and we must demand that they protect our God-given rights.

We must fundamentally reform the regulatory state

  • A government that is closest to the people is more accountable, more responsive and more effective
  • A government that is far removed from the people becomes unaccountable, less responsive, less responsible, less effective, more expensive, and more corrupt.
  • It is our elected representatives who are ultimately answerable to us. We must therefore make sure that they are the ultimate decision-makers; the ones who debate the bills and pass the laws. We must move away from the idea that state and federal regulators are empowered to adopt the type of rules that can crush our industries and destroy our economy.
  • Federal regulatory employees in Washington, D.C. have become largely unaccountable to the citizens who pay their salaries and for whom they work. We can no longer tolerate this situation.
  • We must have a full review of all regulations on the books. We must also impose a temporary moratorium on the adoption of new regulations in Wyoming (with the exception of those necessitated by an emergency). Such moratorium should remain in place until our review is complete and recommendations made for the repeal of all superfluous, outdated, and unnecessary regulations.
  • We must ensure that our citizens have expedited access to the courts whenever civil or criminal penalties are imposed by a regulatory agency.

We must recognize that government does not create jobs; the private sector does

  • “Economic development” does not come from the government; it comes from the private sector.
  • The government does not create jobs; the private sector does.
  • Our federal government especially is often focused on “trying to fix its last solution.” Private industry, in contrast, is focused upon creating the next boom.
  • We must unleash our private sector to thrive.
  • We must rid our government of outdated, burdensome, and counterproductive rules, regulations, and licensing requirements that hinder private industry, innovation, and growth.
  • We must lower the cost of doing business in Wyoming if we are going to become more competitive in terms of attracting new industries.
  • We must fight those federal mandates that increase the cost of doing business in Wyoming as compared to other states.

We must practice good government in all branches, in all agencies, and in all aspects of governing

  • Wyoming citizens are entitled to a cost-effective, efficient, responsible, and responsive government.
  • Our government must be held accountable to the citizenry that it was created to serve.
  • We need evidence-based governance. Our public servants, including the Governor, must be able to show that we can and will succeed at fixing an identified problem.
  • We must have a government that is proportionate in size to our population.
  • Ensuring that our government is transparent is one of the most basic obligations of public servants, and we cannot waiver on that commitment. We must ensure that the Governor’s office and our state agencies are transparent in their work and how they spend money.
  • We must make our budgeting process and budget more transparent and less complicated.

We must control spending, not raise taxes

  • The State of Wyoming should not be spending more money than it takes in.
  • Any discussion of raising taxes creates uncertainty in the business community, hinders our ability to attract new industries, and stifles job growth.
  • We must bring our spending in line with our revenues.
  • We cannot use one-time or “windfall” funds to meet long-term spending obligations.
  • States that do not overspend, who keep taxes low, and provide for a competitive business climate attract more businesses than those that follow a tax-and-spend model.
  • Attracting more businesses for the benefit of our citizens should be our goal; not finding ways to generate more tax revenue for the state.
  • There are simply not enough people in Wyoming who would pay an income tax to generate sufficient revenue to fund our government, especially in light of Article 15, Section 18 of the Wyoming Constitution.
  • We must fix our structural budget deficits in order to ensure that our children and grandchildren do not suffer for the decisions that we are making today. It is immoral to burden future generations by prolific government spending.

We must provide more transparency in education funding, including providing additional data on the amount of money spent in the classroom, on administration and on overhead

  • I support our K-12 education, our Community Colleges, and our University of Wyoming, and in fact received an excellent education from all of these institutions.
  • We must ensure that our students are well educated. We must do so in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
  • We must be more open and transparent in relation to education funding, including how the money is spent.
  • We must reduce the costs associated with overhead and administration.
  • Our school dollars should be focused upon the classroom, including providing adequate teacher pay and benefits to attract and retain the best teachers in the Country.

We must have a robust school curriculum that includes United States and Wyoming history, with an emphasis on our constitution

  • President Lincoln famously said that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We are witnessing a concerted effort on many college campuses to undermine our Republic, our form of government, and our freedoms and liberties as guaranteed by our federal and state Constitutions. Those efforts are tearing our Country apart. Without a shared history we cannot foster and protect a shared future.
  • We must ensure that our students – our future leaders – understand our foundational documents and our history so that they are prepared to lead, to protect our Republic, and to protect our individual liberties. With the aid of our Wyoming Supreme Court, our Law School, our legislators, and our educators, we will strive to develop a curriculum for our High School students that emphasizes these principles. Such students should be sufficiently proficient in these topics to pass a test formulated to evaluate their knowledge.

We must embrace, support, defend, protect, and advocate for our legacy industries

  • We must embrace, support, defend, protect and advocate for our legacy industries:
    • Minerals;
    • Agriculture; and
    • Tourism (including hunting, fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling, etc.).
  • The development, management, and use of our natural resources are what finance the Wyoming economy, including funding our schools, our infrastructure, and our public services (just to name a few). We should be proud of these industries and challenge any effort to limit or destroy our producers and business owners. The development of these resources has improved not only the standard of living of those of us in Wyoming, but the standard of living of citizens throughout the United States and beyond, generating a level of prosperity unrivaled in world history.
  • We must aggressively market these industries not only in Wyoming and the United States, but throughout the world.
  • We must fight to defend and support these industries, with the state taking an active role in blocking not only regulatory overreach, but other outside forces that seek to turn Wyoming into something that we do not want, and that seek to prevent us from moving our products to the outside markets.

We must pursue a value-added approach within our existing business structure and industries

  • We should support our business community to innovate, develop, and manufacture new products using our existing natural resources and industries.
  • We should focus upon using the byproducts of our existing industries to produce a broader array of goods for intrastate and interstate consumption.
  • Additive manufacturing (3D printing) frequently uses petroleum-based products as raw materials. Locating a 3D manufacturing plant adjacent to or within a refinery footprint would reduce the energy required for manufacturing.

We must have accountability when undertaking economic development and diversification

  • Economic development should be for the purpose of bettering our citizens, for creating jobs, and not for growing government.
  • Our state agencies and boards must be dedicated to fostering economic development and diversification, not stifling it.
  • We must also have full accountability for any economic development program that is funded with public moneys.
  • We must have a full accounting of how much “economic development” has cost our local governments and our state to date, and the benefits received.
  • For all future economic development projects:
    • we must know prior to approval how much money will be spent and for what purpose;
    • we must establish detailed goals for each project before approval;
    • we must identify the measures of success for each project before it is funded; and
      once the project is completed we must report to the citizens how the promises made compare with the project outcome.

We must reform our health-care system, provide more effective services to our aging population, and help families struggling with mental health issues

  • The further the decision-maker is from the point of execution the worse the ultimate care will be. The solutions to the health-care situation in this Country are to be found at the local level, not with the federal government.
  • Wyoming must be willing to innovate in terms of health-care policy and delivery. Wyoming should seek a waiver from certain federal mandates in order to allow this to happen.
  • Keeping our seniors in their own homes will reduce the long-term cost of care and provide for a better quality of life. We should work with our college system to develop programs focused upon geriatric care.
  • We must consider ways in which our current regulatory requirements for senior residential facilities hinder our ability to provide high quality care at lower costs, including using our assisted living facilities more effectively.
  • We have families who are struggling with the mental illness of their loved ones, including sons, daughters, parents, and siblings. We have communities that are struggling to find beds and facilities to treat their citizens who may be suffering from these afflictions. We must find more effective ways of dealing with these situations in order to provide relief and support to our families.

We must protect the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn

  • I have benefitted greatly because of the family into which I was born. I believe strongly in the importance of stable and healthy families. We must fight to protect and support our families and the family unit.
  • We have an obligation to help those who are less fortunate than we are.
  • We must protect the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn. It is clear to me that our humanity depends upon our ability to protect our babies.

We must stop all efforts that seek to take our guns and prevent us from protecting ourselves

  • Our right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • Our right to keep and bear arms is also guaranteed by Article 1, Section 24 of the Wyoming Constitution.
  • We have an absolute right to protect ourselves and our families, and the government cannot take that right away.
  • We must undertake a security assessment of our schools in order to ensure that we are providing the best security that we can.
  • We must fight against any effort to undermine, weaken, or nullify our rights.

We must protect Wyoming’s water

  • I have spent the last twenty years of my career fighting to protect Wyoming’s water, both as against the demands of down-stream states as well as from the federal government’s overreach and water grabs.
  • I will fight to protect Wyoming’s water and our users.
  • I will not tolerate the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) attempting to use the Clean Water Act to prevent us from irrigating our lands and watering our livestock.

We must reform federal land management and access

  • The federal government owns approximately 30,000,000 acres of land within the State of Wyoming, or 48.2% of our surface estate.
  • The decisions made by federal land management bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., have caused, among other things, the incidence of ever-increasing catastrophic wild fires, the pine beetle outbreak, destruction of our National Grasslands, the closure of roads and trails providing access to these lands, and reduced financial returns to the American public. The federal government has shown itself to be less than effective at managing these natural resources, causing substantial environmental degradation in the process.
  • There are many groups that will fight with every resource at their disposal (including in some cases federal funds) to prevent us from implementing new land-management techniques to address these problems – no matter how poorly managed those lands currently are. There are others who talk of Wyoming “taking” these lands through almost any means necessary. So long as we are debating this issue on the extremes – the two polar opposites – nothing will be done, and the status quo will prevail, to the long-term detriment of our environment, our local communities, our citizens, and our state.
  • Rather than working from the extremes, we must find a middle ground from which to move forward, such as identifying approximately 1,000,000 acres within the state (1/30th of the federal holdings), for alternative management and treatment, with the state taking control of – and being entitled to all income generated from – such lands to show that we are not only better at protecting their environmental attributes, but that we can do so at a lower cost than currently incurred by our federal agencies, while also improving access. It is only through an incremental approach that we will eventually succeed at addressing and resolving these land management issues.
  • Wyoming must be more aggressive in demanding more access, more use, and more income from federal lands and federal minerals within our borders.
  • Wyoming should work with the United States Forest Service to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, including implementing emergency forest management techniques to remove undergrowth and dead trees.
  • We must ensure that our state lands are properly managed.
  • We must find a solution to land-locked parcels to ensure that we are able to access, use, and generate income from our property.

Marijuana - I do not believe in legalizing something that we know is bad for our citizens solely for the purpose of taxing it.

As I have traveled the state I have been asked about my position on legalizing marijuana. While I am willing to work with the experts to assess whether we should consider the legalization of marijuana or its byproducts for medical uses, I do not support legalization for recreational use. My position in that regard is based upon the invaluable information that has been provided to me by folks in the fields of medicine, mental health treatment, addiction, counseling, education, and law enforcement. I have also spoken to fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers whose family members have suffered the consequences of heavy marijuana use. Having heard their stories I am more convinced than ever that legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use is not in Wyoming’s best interest.

The fact is that states that have legalized recreational marijuana use are paying a heavy price. Our neighbor to the south in Colorado legalized such use in 2012. We can now assess how this “experiment” has gone, with a number of alarming statistics that warrant Wyoming taking a longer “wait and see” approach. Schools in Colorado, for example, report a nearly 19% increase in marijuana suspensions. It only makes sense that if marijuana is legal, more young people will have access to it, and use it. In fact, marijuana use among teens in Colorado is 55% higher than the national average. That is a frightening thought as we look to our children as the future of Wyoming.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has reported that 69% of cannabis consumers have driven under the influence of marijuana at least once in the last year. Over one-quarter of the users – 27% — admit to driving high almost every day. It is no wonder that marijuana-related traffic deaths (with the driver being under the influence), more than doubled from 2013 to 2016.

In the state of Washington, nearly one in five daytime drivers may be under the influence of marijuana, up from less than one in 10 drivers prior to recreational retail sale of marijuana.
While some argue that marijuana could be the solution to our ever-growing opioid crisis, opioid-related overdose deaths actually increased in Colorado after legalization, not decreased.

These alarming facts and statistics are extensive. It is clear to me that it is not in Wyoming’s best interest to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes – it would be damaging to our families and our businesses. I am simply not willing to change our culture because “other states are doing it.”

A related question is addressed to the use of “medical marijuana” to treat a variety of ailments. I understand that there may be some evidence that using marijuana or its derivatives (i.e., CBD) may help ease the suffering of those with serious medical conditions. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration recently approved Epidiolex, a drug that uses CBD to treat epilepsy. I believe that as a state, we should look for solutions that allow for limited use of marijuana or its derivatives for medical reasons. I am committed, however, to avoiding the challenges and problems faced by states like Colorado and Washington. I intend to work with the experts in the field – medical professionals, educators, law enforcement personnel, counselors, and addictionologists to find common sense solutions to this situation.

Finally, I have been repeatedly been told that Wyoming could generate substantial tax revenue if only we were to legalize marijuana. I will make myself very clear: I do not believe in legalizing something that we know is bad for our citizens solely for the purpose of taxing it. I instead believe that legalizing a dangerous substance for taxation purposes demonstrates that you have a broken government.

Wolf Management in Wyoming

I understand that there have been concerns expressed regarding my involvement with the wolf lawsuit, and my view of wolf management in Wyoming. I want to set the record straight in case there is any question about my commitment in that regard.

I was first hired by the “Wolf Coalition” in 2002 to file suit against the Fish and Wildlife Service over its failure to properly manage the Canadian gray wolf population that it had introduced into Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990’s. That Coalition was made up of 28 different organizations, including sportsmen groups, outfitters and guides, County Commissioners, ag groups, and conservation districts, among others. The point of our lawsuit was to establish that the wolf population exceeded the recovery goals as of 2002; that Wyoming had developed an appropriate wolf management plan to protect that recovered population; and that the FWS was required to approve it, delist the wolf from the ESA, and turn management over to the State. We continued that fight over the next 15 years, with the Wolf Coalition being one of the most important and consistent advocates for our livestock industry, outfitting industry, including Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, hunters, Counties, conservation districts, and small business owners whose livelihoods have been so damaged by the introduction of this predator. As importantly, we were the primary voice at the table throughout this time for protecting our other wildlife resources such as our elk, moose, and deer populations.

In February, 2017 we finally succeeded in convincing the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. that Wyoming’s Wolf Management Plan met all of the requirements of the ESA. This was a major victory for Wyoming, and allows us to implement management techniques that are unavailable anywhere else in the Country. For example, Wyoming is the only State where wolves are considered predators in the majority of the State – meaning that we can use more robust and effective control techniques (aerial hunting, may be shot on sight in certain geographic areas, etc.). Wyoming is also the only State where the National Park Service is responsible for maintaining and protecting a portion of our population within the National Parks. Finally, Wyoming is now only required to maintain a limited number of wolves – thereby allowing us to control the population through hunting seasons (within the trophy game area), and throughout the year (within the predator area). This win, in other words, will finally allow Wyoming to start controlling wolf numbers in this State, thereby making it possible to rebuild those game herds that have been so decimated by the uncontrolled and previously ever-expanding gray wolf population.

As Governor, I have every intention of asserting Wyoming’s sovereignty over our wildlife, and of aggressively implementing those control techniques that are effective at constraining our wolf population to the recovery numbers. Under my administration we will no longer tolerate an ever-expanding wolf population. We will instead focus upon protecting all of our wildlife resources, and protecting our livestock producers from suffering the consequences of those bad policies for which Washington, D.C. is notorious.

I have dedicated the last 20+ years of my career to protecting our legacy industries in Wyoming. I have fought to protect private property rights, the livestock industry, the sportsmen industry, outfitters and guides, and local governments. I have worked tirelessly – often-times all alone – to push back against federal overreach, and to hold the federal government accountable for the mismanagement of the federal lands and for its failure to follow the endangered species act. I have refused to buckle under as the EPA has sought to take our water. I have traveled the Country warning of the dangers of an out-of-control federal government. I AM THE ONLY CANDIDATE WITH THIS HISTORY, and with my record of success on these issues. So the next time that someone whispers in your ear about me, claiming that I want to give people access to private lands, that I have worked to give Wyoming’s water away to other states, or that I haven’t fought hard enough or long enough on battling the wolf mess, you can now look them in the eye and say with absolute confidence: “THAT MY FRIEND, IS HOGWASH.”