Legislative Brief

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

As I woke last week, on our nation's Independence Day, I decided to read the Declaration of Independence.

As I read the letter, the more recognizable portions, those we remember from our time in school and from hearing them in movies and in the speeches of politicians, brought me pride in our country, as always. As I read on, however, the letter from the 56 signers turned toward the stating of the specific abuses of power the King of England was exercising on the colonies.

It is these specific abuses that we do not hear about in school, in the movies or in the speeches of politicians. The charges are specific and direct. As I read the list of infractions by the King, I could not help but to compare these actions to similar actions that I have witnessed the government of the United States execute against the American people. As I said, the charges are specific and direct, so some require a little imagination in order to draw lines to modern day actions, but they are relatable, nonetheless.

I think of a specific example of the EPA targeting a couple in Priest Lake, Idaho, who had navigated a complicated regulatory process in order to build their dream home in retirement, and then when they began construction, the EPA (an agency which was created by Executive fiat) ordered them to cease construction of the home, and restore the property to its original condition, plant special plants, fence it in, and monitor it for three years, because they were building in a "protected wetland," and that they would be fined $30,000 per day until they were in compliance.

The couple tried to take the agency to court, but two courts rejected their case, stating that the EPA had the authority to demand compliance and levy fines. Finally, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and the couple won, with Justice Scalia writing the majority opinion.

This issue stretched over a 6 year period during this couple's golden years, all so the EPA could make an example out of ordinary citizens and attempt to exercise their unfounded authority and usurp the Constitutional guarantee of due process.

In this instance, the Supreme Court protected the people from its government, but that doesn't always work, and not all people are as brave as this couple from Idaho who were willing to fight the ultimate fight. The examples could continue, and I could include multiple examples where various government agencies have abused people with whom I am friends, and even myself, by levying fines, and attempting to circumvent due process.

The difference is, in the past, I have put up with it, unlike the couple from Idaho, for fear of what government might do if I fought back, because these agencies do not know the meaning of time or money, and stories of ordinary people winning a fight against an all powerful and abusive agency are few and far between. I am inspired by the couple from Idaho, and I hope that if any of my constituents are having an issue with an agency, state or federal, that they contact me for help. I am here for you. If it is a federal agency, then I will help you deal with your Congressman and Senator's offices. People should not have to cower to their government.

After reading the Declaration of Independence in its entirety, it hit me, as always, the bravery of these men who were standing up to an authority that was abusing power. They had the courage to fight for their Independence, and they won. Since then, countless brave men and women have given their lives, fighting foreign enemies who despised us because of the freedom and liberties we enjoyed, and I am and always will be extremely grateful for that. That Freedom and Liberty was, and always has been, the source of our greatness as a country. It is what allowed us to prosper as a citizenry, and to support a government that could afford protect us from foreign enemies.

But it is my opinion that the greatest threat to liberty and freedom is now domestic, and it comes in the form of a government that has grown too large, too powerful, and which now seems almost unchecked by the people it governs.

As time has gone on, it is inarguable that our liberties and freedoms have eroded significantly. I am hopeful that we will get some of those back as more and more people realize that our economic woes are only a symptom of the greater problem, which is a loss of basic freedoms.

As I write this, I am in high spirits, as this past week marked a victory for the people of our district, as well as people in all of southern Missouri and the northern half of Arkansas, as the Obama administration removed the designation of the White River as a National Blueway, which had it stood in place, could have, and most likely would have had serious negative implications on property rights for every one of the property owners within the White River Water Shed. This designation was removed, not because of myself, or any other elected official on their own, but because of a groundswell of opposition, spearheaded by people like Bill Gracy and others, in our 158th legislative district, and those across the affected area. It is victories like these that remind me that we still live in the greatest country in the world. But we are the greatest country in the world, not because of the government, but because of the governed.

I am proud to be an American. I am blessed to live in a Constitutional Republic (not a Democracy). And I am lucky to be from Missouri, and specifically from the 158th district. God Bless every one of you. I hope everyone had a great Independence Day weekend!