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The Issues

  • Conservative Principles. On the issues affecting District 24, I am a proud conservative. I came to my conservative Republican beliefs from life experience. I grew up in Maine, which at that time in the 1950s was also a conservative state, but which since has been taken over politically and socially by the other party and led down a different road. I believe in limited government, individual accomplishment and opportunity and individual freedom and responsibility. The internal debates we sometimes have within the Republican Party are healthy in this regard. As I go about District 24, I find many people are good conservatives, advocates of limited government, cautious when it comes to taxation, staunch defenders of our national security, protectors of private property and supporters of individual freedom and personal liberty. If we will work together on these broad Republican principles, there is no end to what we can accomplish for the good of Idaho and our blessed nation.
Stephen reading
Staying up with important issues takes time and effort. Even when I’m out of town, I make time to research and read ahead.
  • Gun Control. I believe the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a person's right to possess a firearm affirms what I have always thought was the clear meaning of the Second Amendment, which says the "right of the people to bear arms shall not be abridged." The patriots at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge were organized into militia companies, but the guns they carried on that April day in 1775 were their own. I oppose efforts to abridge that right.
  • School prayer. Where would our country be without the hand of Providence? It is an old word, not much used of late, which refers to God as the One who Provides. The Founding Fathers understood the importance of God's hand in the shaping of our nation. We should acknowledge that creation. The separation of church and state, as the Founding Fathers understood it, was never intended to remove prayers and expressions of faith from the public square of American life. Public schools should allow prayers and moments of silent reflection.
  • Human Life. I believe human life begins at conception. We should limit
    abortion to those situations involving rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
    States should have the right to limit abortion availability. I would personally like to see the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, modified and narrowed, but it is unlikely we will see that anytime soon from the court.
  • Gay Marriage. I believe the institution of traditional marriage should be protected in Idaho. By history, culture, Scripture and biology, marriage is intended as between a man and a woman, not in any other way. I am against efforts to expand the definition of marriage to include other relationships. Civil unions may be founded in mutual respect and companionship, but they are not the same as marriage.
Linda and I spend a very informative time this past summer exploring the UI Research Center expo at Kimberly on the many ways in which the university assists Southern Idaho agriculture. Here we are with UI officials, including UI Agriculture Dean John Hammel and UI President Duane Nellis.
  • Stewardship of our Western lands. I believe farmers and ranchers are among the best stewards of the American land, not the environmental groups which want to eliminate ranching on public lands, lock it up for a few backpackers and squeeze folks off by taking away their livelihood. I have observed these extremist groups for many years and am still amazed at the zeal and piety they foist on the good agricultural communities throughout Southern Idaho.
  • Agriculture. When I was publisher of The Times-News, at virtually every election, we endorsed candidates who were close to the land. I am married to a former farmer. I know many people in ranching, agriculture, and at one time, was on the board of the Southern Idaho Livestock Hall of Fame. I founded Magic Valley Ag Weekly, the region's premier agricultural magazine. I know the importance of ranching and farming to our economy, and more importantly, to our way of life. The bumper sticker is right: No farms, no ranches, no groceries. Today, our agricultural community producers give us all more and better quality food than ever before in world history. We are truly blessed as a nation and a state by the enormous productivity of our people and the American land.
  • Endangered Species. I believe this federal program needs to be substantially revised to allow local citizens additional input in the decisions to identify and list species. The results of these decisions fall heavily on local communities and far-away federal bureaucrats rarely have much sympathy for how their decisions affect us here in Idaho. A good example is the situation involving wolves in Idaho, which have been enormously destructive to our livestock industry and deer and elk herds. As legislators, we need to do what we can to limit the impacts of the Endangered Species Act.
Stephen and Linda on the Coast of Maine
Like many couples, Linda and I enjoy travelling. Here, we're visiting Acadia National Park in Maine, not far from where I grew up.
  • Water. I have spent quite a bit of time studying the Idaho Priority Doctrine which asserts that the first in time is first in right of use. This principle has guided our water law for more than century and should continue to do so. As our aquifers and surface waters have been over-appropriated, our courts have had to assert this doctrine in direct terms. I believe we are finally moving toward some reasonable solutions in our water disputes, and that all groups need to work with the Department of Water Resources in cooperative ways with clear guidance from the courts and the Legislature.
  • Fiscal responsibility. In the past 15 years, Idaho's growth has been phenomenal. As our economy has grown, so has state government, sometimes at a faster pace. It seems government entities know no end to expansion. I sometimes hear arguments for new taxes, local options, etc. They always have reasons behind them. But I think we should be very, very cautious about these appeals. Even as our economy expands, we should not let government grow beyond what we can afford. That is the way we all manage our businesses, farms, personal checkbooks. It is good policy for the state too.