Growing up on a farm, I learned the value of hard work early on. I also saw firsthand that economic pressures do more for business practices than any regulation. My family owns a multi-million dollar farm and yet they relied on free school lunches and secondhand shops to feed and clothe me through my school years. I grew up hearing that this was because farmers didn't know how to conduct business, and should have off-farm jobs as well. Government programs kept my family in poverty to subsidize cheap food in America. Despite those programs, my family farm has always found a way to implement the best environmental practice available, and become more economically viable.
My family was politically active. Because we were victims of government subsidies, my father and others petitioned the government for better farm prices and regulations. I grew up in the law libraries and archives researching how the government assumed the authority to regulate small business on such a large scale. I learned a lot that most people don't learn in college and eventually was part of a Supreme Court decision and wrote a state's rights ballot initiative in 2010.
Because of my upbringing, I have an inside view into the needs of our local economy; based more on business models than government. What is more, I don't have a single idea that can't be justified directly from the Constitution. I will work to eliminate the authority over agriculture, resources and economy conferred to the president by the governor's conference of March 8, 1933.
My solution for our forests and other resources is the antithesis to our current model. We don't need to pay people to clean up dead trees with our tax dollars. We need to take control of those lands and sell permits to people to cut dead or dying trees, growing an industry in the process. The same goes for other resources. De-regulating our resource-producing industries will have significant positive economic impacts. Existing tort and criminal laws define punishment for polluting our environment, and will sufficiently protect those neighboring mines and wells. We need to make sure mining operations don't pollute its neighbors, but the company knows the best practices to accomplish this, beyond anything government can ever prescribe.
The models for agriculture have failed spectacularly as well, caused by the USDA and the banking system. My program reverses the trend of aging farmers who are forced to expand their farms simply to survive. Other industries have adequate bank financing to get off the ground and create a sustainable business. Unlike farms, their prices received are not limited by contract markets. I plan to implement a program for our new farmers that guarantees adequate funding to start a sustainable operation, free from overly burdensome interest to banks, taxes and restrictions, ensuring a new generation of people are able to farm, even if they're too young to have established the credit needed to start a farm. This program will ensure that a significant percentage of our farm dollars that currently go to interest will instead go toward farms and the local economy, creating jobs. This self sustaining program can be paid for by dismantling our ineffective aggie bond program - which funds banks, not farms.
I intend to address Western Slopes water issue more directly than has been done in the past. Water rights are just that, rights. Denver and other Front Range entities own some of the early ones and the courts have upheld their right to the water. I intend to introduce an amendment to the state constitution that will limit the amount of water that can be taken across the Continental Divide and define emergency rationing so that agriculture takes precedence over lawns. I will work with Front Range entities to purchase shares of Western Slope water with funds from fishing licenses, and sell the shares back to the Western Slope users.
There is little argument that our government needs fresh ideas. I feel that any problem in government should start with a local solution. These programs, and others I support, will ensure that Colorado implements commons sense changes to streamline government and promote economic growth.
Robert Petrowsky is the American Constitution Party candidate for House District 61 and lives in Leadville.