Mark Shepard on the Issues

As a Vermont State Senator, Mark Shepard built a consistent record of working for limited government, free-market economics, personal responsibility, stronger families and individual liberty. Vermonters can have confidence that if elected to congress, Mark Shepard will continue to stand up for policies that are best for the people of Vermont.

America has become the strongest nation on Earth while yielding unmatched prosperity and freedom for her citizens. This is a result of the foundation with which our form of government is based, as expressed by the American founders:

“… 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 -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed …” – Declaration of Independence – July 4, 1776

When considering public policy, it is critical that we keep our feet firmly planted on this most incredible foundation.


Issues

Economy & Jobs – Family security, national security and a clean environment all require a free economy, in which people are motivated to maximize their creative talents and to be industrious.

Health Insurance – Empower citizens to be more in charge of their health insurance by allowing them to purchase health insurance policies from any state. This would save many Vermonters 50% or more on health insurance.

Health Care – Empower health care consumers by enacting policies that build a stronger and more direct connection to their health care provider. This would lead to lower costs and better products.

Environment – Over the past several decades, we have made great strides in cleaning up our environment. Environmental laws must be science based, transparent and predictable as well as consider the economic hardship they may place on people. A healthy environment requires a strong economy.

Energy – America must be prepared to run a vibrant economy on its own energy resources. All foreign energy purchasing arrangements should be strictly business relationships, not dependent relationships.

Foreign Policy – America should build positive relationships with the people of other nations, however America is a sovereign nation and we must never allow our citizens while in America, businesses located in America, or our soldiers while on duty to be subject to any foreign or international governing body.

Human rights – America should set an example to the world by upholding the dignity of every individual, which includes expecting personal responsibility from those are able.

Immigration – America is a nation of immigrants, however our immigration policy is clearly broken. Illegal should mean something! We must build a clear path for legal immigration, eliminate taxpayer-funded services to illegal immigrants, secure our borders and not allow amnesty, under any name. Those here illegally must go through the same system as the legal immigrants.

Reviving America – America’s strength lies in that we are a nation of immigrants who share a common bond, that being a respect for the rule of law and a common language - English. (Motto on the U.S. Seal - E Pluribus Unum = Out of many one)

Property Rights – The right to own and profit from private property must be protected. Eminent domain must be used sparingly and never for private gain or for increasing the property tax base. The government should not be in the business of acquiring property.

Public Lands and Waters – Public lands and waters should be accessible to the public and viewed as a resource to the people of Vermont. No more acreage within the Green Mountain National Forests should be designated with the heavily restrictive Federal Wilderness designation. Federal policy should support diverse use for economic and recreational purposes, enhancing public access, improving wildlife habitat and sustainable forestry management.

Ethics in Government – The debate around corruption in government has been focused on symptoms and not the core problem. The core problem is that as government becomes more centralized and powerful, the stakes of winning and losing become greater, which fosters an environment where people are willing to pay enormous sums to buy political influence.

Patriot Act – There is always a tension between security and liberty, however this tension increases in times of war or national crisis. While a primary role of the federal government is to secure our nation, we must uphold the constitution and take great care that we not undermine the freedoms that make America the envy of the world. Each year Congress should fully review the Patriot Act to ensure that the liberties of Americans are protected, that the anti-terrorism measures in place are effective, and that the provisions are actually accomplishing something.

The War on Terror – Since September 11, 2001 America has been engaged in what has been referred to as “The War on Terror”. This term is deceiving, as terror is merely a tactic used to spread a particular worldview called “Islamic Radicalism”. The words of its proponents make clear that a democratic form government is incompatible with their worldview and they will use whatever means available to impose their worldview and their way of life on the rest of the world.

For the American way of life to extend to future generations, today’s Americans must stand up to this real threat in the same way earlier generations stood up to earlier threats. Just as Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were defeated in WWII, Islamic Radicalism must be defeated today.

Gun rights – The right to bear arms is fundamentally necessary to preserve our freedom.  The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights guarantees this right and I would not vote for a bill that infringed on this fundamental right of any law-abiding citizen.  Restrictive gun laws favor criminals over law-abiding citizens. 

In the Senate, Mark Shepard was a leading voice to not only pass the Gun Range Protection Act this past year, but also to ensure that it would be a real help.  The Bill had been pushed through the Vermont House of Representatives to the Vermont Senate in a way that we would have been better with no bill.  However, it is important to understand that this was a strategy to get it voted out of the House, so it would move along the process.  The plan was to fix it in the Senate. 

For his part Senator Shepard contacted his local daily paper to get an article written that would highlight the need to make changes and encourage Bennington gun owners to put pressure on the Senate Judiciary, chaired by Senator Sears, also from Bennington, to make the needed changes and get a good bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

From an April 20 article in the Bennington Banner:

Sen. Mark Shepard, R-Bennington, is against the bill in its current form, claiming that it contains too many loopholes.

He said that the version that passed the House needs some tweaking before becoming a law.

"If there are no changes made to it, it's better that the bill dies," he said. "The bill could increase the possibility of litigation rather than decrease it. And in litigation, it doesn't matter if you're right or wrong. If you don't have the money, you lose."

There were many other people involved in making this a success, and all deserve credit for getting a good Gun Range Protection Act bill passed into law.

Free Speech – The right to free speech is fundamentally necessary to preserve our freedom.  The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, guarantees this right so citizens can freely express their ideas and thoughts on their government.  For this reason Senator Shepard does not support the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, chiefly sponsored by Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Campaign Finance – Americans are rightly concerned about the financing of campaigns, however the response of those elected has only increased the problems.  The solution is quite simple, so please read on and become part of the solution.

Why should we expect people whose number one goal is to get re-elected to pass a law that would do anything other than help their re-election?  

The complex campaign finance laws of recent years are no more than incumbent protection acts as it becomes more and more cumbersome for people not in the system to navigate the campaign process.  McCain-Feingold is not only has a strong bias toward the incumbent, but it also is perhaps the most draconian, anti-American, anti-free speech legislation ever to become law.

The special-interest money that has infected our political process, such that special-interest groups drive the political agenda and the citizen voice is lost, will not stop until Americans vote against those who feel they must have this money to get elected.

If the only way a candidate can win is to accept great sums of special-interest money, then those whose ultimate goal is to win will always accept this money.  Furthermore if they feel it is necessary, then as a representative they will be beholden to the wishes of the special-interest groups that help finance their campaigns. 

The only way to change this mindset of those running for office is for voters to express their will at the polls and vote against candidates who rely on special-interest money.  This election you have a clear way to make it clear that we want cleaner campaigns where Vermonters’ interests are in the forefront – vote for Mark Shepard for Congress. 

It was precisely the influence of special-interest money in politics that convinced Mark to run for the Vermont Senate.  In Vermont the needs and desires of working Vermonters took a back seat to the wishes of national special-interest groups.  The same is true at the national level and so Mark has pledged to not accept any D.C. Special Interest money this election.  If Mark wins, those running for office will surely re-think how they should fund their campaigns and then your representative will be beholden to Vermonters not outside special-interest groups.  Only you as voters have the power to change the way campaigns are run and the way you are represented.  If either of the two candidates who are heavily funded by D.C. special-interest groups wins this election, the message to future candidates is clear – special-interest money is the way to win.  The choice is yours and only yours. 

Vermont’s outdoor traditions – hunting, fishing and trapping – Mark Shepard learned to appreciate many of Vermont’s outdoor traditions from his life growing up in rural Vermont.   As such he has been a leading voice in the Vermont Senate on issues that would improve these activities.  

Senator Shepard was a founding member of the Vermont Legis  lative Sportsmen’s Caucus.  He met with representatives from the national organization in Albany New York, making Senator Shepard the initial legislator to meet with the national organization.  However, he had been working with Rep. Steve Adams for months on the idea prior to that meeting.  Senator Shepard attended the national conference last year.

Senator Shepard was the legislator behind the resolution calling for no more federally designated wilderness in the Green Mountain National Forest.  During the 2004 session the resolution was pulled together in Senator Shepard’s Bennington office and it passed the House with bi-partisan support (86-56) without one word changed from its original form as pulled together in Bennington.  

In the Senate, under the leadership of Sen. Peter Welch, the resolution was sent to committee and died with no testimony taken.

Humanity - Mark Shepard is strongly affirms the equal value of all of humanity as best stated in the Declaration of Independence, "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."

Mark believes just as the successful founding of this nation stood on that principle, so does America's future. As such Mark believes that the fundamental purpose of government is to protect the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (personal property, earnings, religious expression, etc.) for all Americans. This foundational creed has forced and continues to force America to confront slavery, workplace abuse, sexual exploitation of children and adults, and the taking of human life, both before birth and before natural death, regardless of a person's health, mental or physical ability. An America that embraces all humanity will be an America that endures.

Marriage - Senator Shepard believes marriage should be only the union of one man and one woman. Once marriage is expanded beyond that, there is no rationale for any definition. The number two is completely arbitrary unless tied to the fact that that exactly two people, one man and one woman, are required to procreate. Marriage has historically been about the creation and nurture of children, not merely the government endorsing various expressions of love, which government has no means of verifying.