Happy Independence Day
What do you think makes America great? I think it's our belief that every life has equal value, our fierce individualism, and our commitment to protect mankind's most fundamental rights. We can trace all of those values to one document--the Declaration of Independence. This week, we celebrate the day our country came into being--when we declared independence from Great Britain. It's hard for us to imagine just how courageous this action was. By signing a document that proclaimed we are born with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, our Founding Fathers were putting all of those rights on the line. If the Constitution is the foundation for our nation, the Declaration of Independence is the blueprint. If you haven't read the Declaration of Independence recently, I encourage you to take a minute to look it over. It's a powerful reminder of what makes our country great. You can still see the original document at the National Archives. If you'd like to visit Washington, DC and see more national treasures like this, please contact my office. We can help arrange tours of the U.S. Capitol, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court.
A Small Victory on the Lesser Prairie Chicken
Last week, I sent a letter to Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe, requesting additional time for public input on listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a "threatened species" under the Endangered Species Act. This issue is incredibly important to landowners in West Texas. If the Lesser Prairie Chicken is listed as threatened, it would place severe restrictions on public and private land use, and limit farming, ranching, transportation, and energy development. It could force layoffs that we simply can't afford. Even if you won't be directly affected by this listing, you should still care. Why? Because FWS isn't following normal procedures for this listing process. Instead of following sound science and established timelines, the process is being driven by a closed-door lawsuit settlement with environmental groups. That's a bad precedent to set. I've been working tirelessly to make this process more transparent and to prevent an unnecessary listing.
This week, we had a small victory. The FWS agreed to my request to postpone their final decision until March 30, 2014. That's good news, because it gives them more time to consider a voluntary range-wide conservation plan which will preserve habitat without the need for costly federal regulations. Unfortunately, the Service still isn't following the standard timeline laid out by the Endangered Species Act. That timeline is in place to allow for the detailed study that's required for these decisions. People's livelihoods are at stake, and this decision shouldn't be rushed because of a closed-door legal settlement with environmental activists.
I'll keep working on your behalf on two fronts: getting the voluntary conservation efforts approved and making this process more accountable to our citizens.
Action Item: Littlefield Celebrates Its Centennial
This Saturday, July 6, I'll be in Littlefield to celebrate its centennial anniversary. There are three days of events to mark this historic occasion. You can learn more at www.littlefieldtexas.net. At 11:30 am, I'll be presenting a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol to Mayor Danny Marquez. I hope to see you there!
Question of the Week: Last week, the Supreme Court ruled against Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismissed the case regarding "Prop 8," California's voter referendum banning same-sex marriage. Do you agree with their decision?