County GOP hammers out platform positions in conventionMar 11, 2012 By Martin Reed, Staff Writer
Fremont County Republicans on Saturday rejected a proposal to ban alcohol sales locally while questioning the federal government's role in health care and energy development.
About 130 Republicans gathered for their county convention at the Fremont County Fairgrounds in Riverton to review the party's official positions and pick delegates for the state convention set for April 14 at Cheyenne's Little America.
"When we are adopting platforms and resolutions, we are defining Fremont County," party vice chairman Perry Marple said. "In some small way we have a hand in defining our party even at the national level."
While party members debated wording and positions on various topics, the suggestion to ban alcohol sales in the county received seemingly unanimous rejection.
"The Fremont County Republican Party believes Fremont County must be a dry county," the proposed platform plank stated.
Fremont County Commissioner Travis Becker of Riverton was the only one to speak on the topic, saying the party should strike the proposed statement.
"I believe the Republican Party is all for personal responsibility," Becker said.
Fellow Republicans agreed with Becker and removed the statement from their platform.
Other topics did not flow so easily.
Attendees weighed in heavily on the the issue of health care. The party proposed a platform stating the federal government should establish policies protecting fetuses and the elderly, but outlaw action that would degrade medical care.
"The government's job is supposed to protect people," the Rev. Philip Strong of Lander said.
Carol Williams of Lander said the topic is critical for everyone.
"This is an emotional issue that has to do with everybody's private life," Williams said.
The party proposed that health care should be "outside the limits of the government."
Michael Ockinga of Lander cited the federal government's necessary role in health care including fraud prevention and Medicare.
"I believe government has a role in health care," he said.
When it comes to health care and insurance, Rowena Bland of Riverton said the government should stay out.
"That's a personal issue. It's not the government's authority to do that," she said.
Bland was not shy about her own health care needs.
"I believe in natural health care. I don't do the medical health care," she said, criticizing the swine flu epidemic scare from a couple of years ago.
"The H1N1 scare a few years ago, it was a political scare," she said, contending that the government pushed the issue "because they want your money."
Todd Sutton of Lander said the government is a fixture in health insurance by providing Medicare and other funding.
He said it would be hypocritical to remove the federal presence while continuing to embrace its services.
If the party's members accept money from the federal government in the form of health services, "then that whole thing has to go down," Sutton said about the resolution calling for removal of the federal government from health care.
Party members agreed on language that states they oppose the federal Affordable Healthcare Act.
"I think instead of trying to get into these kinds of details," the party should state its opposition to the federal legislation, Dennis Tippets of Riverton said.
Tippets noted the state's role in providing health care as well.
"I think we've got to be really careful what we're doing here," he said, telling the group the state spends about $1.2 billion a year on health care.
Party members agreed that America's borders should "be secured immediately and permanently." Also, illegal aliens should not have a "fast track" to receive citizenship.
Business owners who hire illegal aliens knowingly should face criminal and civil consequences, according to the party.
Attendees also called on Congress to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Most agreed that energy development should be allowed to flourish in the country.