Democrat Abel Tapia, left, and Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, right, are running for the 3rd Congressional District seat. 

(Photo: AP/U.S. House)

Democrat Abel Tapia is challenging incumbent Republican Scott Tipton in Colorado's Third Congressional District. The district covers Pueblo and the Western Slope.

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Tapia answered the following questions from CPR News about issues facing Congress. Tipton's campaign declined to complete CPR's questionnaire.  His positions are comprised of previous statements and media coverage that CPR News has compiled.

Do you want the Affordable Care Act to stay in place and possibly have minor changes, or do you want to completely overhaul or eliminate the ACA?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

I believe the ACA should stay in place but be amended to solve problems such as the fact that rural communities in Colorado are forced to pay more than their urban counterparts.

Scott Tipton (Republican) "Obamacare needs to go," Tipton says on his official House website. He offers these elements as a replacement: Lower costs by increasing plan options and market competition amongst insurance providers; Ensure coverage for all Americans regardless of pre-existing conditions by expanding state pools; Protect doctor-patient relationships and safeguard sensitive health care records. See more details here.
What can be done to shore up Medicare and Social Security?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

Medicare and Social Security are programs that individuals have paid into all their lives. In order to make fair adjustments we must start by making any changes with younger individuals entering their careers so that they can plan their career with the same reliability that our seniors have.

Scott Tipton (Republican) Tipton wrote in a 2011 Durango Herald op-ed that he supports the Republican budget that makes changes to the program: "The Republican budget strengthens Medicare and increases affordability by targeting waste, fraud and abuse, which, according to Medicare’s chief actuary, costs as much as $150 billion each year." Tipton also says he is firmly opposed to privatizing Social Security. "Before ensuring solvency for younger Americans, our first priority must be to protect those current beneficiaries and those who have planned their retirements around Social Security benefits. The road to reform does not include cutting benefits."
What role should the federal government play in regulating oil and gas extraction?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

The federal government should be allowed to make rules that will protect our environment and balance the economic interest of energy extraction with our social benefits and the economic costs of energy extraction, such as the potential disruption of our tourist economies.

Scott Tipton (Republican) "We must revisit the duplicative and unnecessary regulations that have stifled energy production and killed jobs," Tipton says on his official House website. "I have supported legislation in Congress to restore commonsense to the regulatory process by ensuring that proposed regulations with an impact to the economy of over $50 million are required to undergo congressional oversight to ensure that they in fact reflect the intention of the original law they cite." Tipton is also critical of the EPA.
Do you support changes to the Endangered Species Act? If so, what?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

I am open to discussion on reasonable measures that acknowledge the balance between certain species and our communities. Endangered species protections should protect the species in a concentrated habitat area as much as possible.

Scott Tipton (Republican) In July 2014, Tipton backed a bill that would prevent the Gunnison Sage-Grouse from being listed on the Endangered Species Act for 10 years, and instead require the state to manage the issue. Tipton was responding to the concerns of ranchers and businesses who said the listing would devastate economies in the area. 
What should the federal government do about climate change?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

First off, everyone in the federal government needs to acknowledge and admit that climate change is real and caused at least in great part by human activity. We should use industry-proposed solutions such as cap and trade of carbon emissions to tackle this problem.

Scott Tipton (Republican) "We all agree that climate will change," Tipton said in a debate in August 2014. But he later complained of governmental overreach by the EPA and other federal agencies.  In 2012, Tipton told ThinkProgress that the changing climate is caused by natural climate cycles rather than humans. 
What can the federal government do to boost Colorado's economy?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

There are many things the federal government can do to boost the Colorado economy, but they start with building and maintaining infrastructure that allows our small businesses to compete and our communities to maintain jobs, such as roads, bridges, broadband coverage, cell coverage, fire mitigation, and water infrastructure. Next, the Federal government should concentrate on comprehensive immigration reform that would allow our agricultural businesses to be confident that they have the labor needed to get crops to market, and would respect the workers and families who come to work, including allowing a path to citizenship for those who contribute to our economy and society.

Scott Tipton (Republican) "By cutting out-of-control federal spending and reforming job-killing regulations, we can get government out of the way of the private sector and give businesses room to create jobs, drive economic recovery and move toward economic security for our families. I will continue to support measures that address our nation’s fiscal challenges," Tipton says on his House website. 
What should the federal government do to address growing inequality in America, and in Colorado?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

Raise the minimum wage, remove incentives for companies to take their earnings abroad, and incentivize reinvestment domestically.

Scott Tipton (Republican) In March 2013, Tipton voted for a bill maintaining work requirements for welfare recipients. 
What should the federal government do to lower the child poverty rate in Colorado?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

The first step should be to raise the minimum wage which will help struggling parents and families, then we should concentrate on boosting Colorado's economy.

Scott Tipton (Republican) CPR News couldn't find any record of Tipton speaking about this particular issue.
Do you support raising the federal minimum wage?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

Yes.

Scott Tipton (Republican) Tipton opposes raising the minimum wage. He voted in March 2013 against changes to a House bill that would have raised the minium wage to $10.10 by 2015. 
What areas of federal spending should be increased? What should be cut?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

Defense spending and international aid could be cut in order to provide greater reinvestment in our own country's infrastructure and communities.

Scott Tipton (Republican) "Plainly stated—our spending is unsustainable and it must be addressed. We must rein in our spending in a responsible way. Some programs need large cuts, others we must be smarter about, and cut only where it’s needed. I have not and will not vote for a budget that does not get our spending under control in a responsible way," Tipton's campaign website states. 
What changes should be made to the federal tax code?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

We should make it more difficult for companies to keep their earnings offshore while earning profits off the back of the American public.

Scott Tipton (Republican) Tipton supports eliminating the estate and inheritance tax, lowering the corporate tax rate to 10 percent, and opposes increasing tax rates. 
Do you support Common Core standards? Why or why not? 
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

I do not support unfunded federal mandates to education, but I do support measures that improve education if they bring funding with them.

Scott Tipton (Republican) Tipton opposes Common Core. He voted in July 2013 to eliminate the secretary of education's ability to influence states' decisions to adopt Common Core and other national standards. "Under the current system, states like Colorado are required to surrender control of the content taught in local classrooms by having to agree to national standards and tests, and are also unable to implement their own requirements to ensure that effective teachers are in classrooms," he stated at the time.
Do you believe adults who came to this country illegally should have a path to citizenship? Why or why not? 
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

Yes. Adults who come here illegally still pay local, state and federal taxes as they add productivity to our economy. This country is built on immigrant effort, and insofar as someone is contributing to our economy and society we ought to allow them a path to citizenship

Scott Tipton (Republican) Tipton has hesitated in endorsing amnesty for immigrants currently in the country illegally.  In a town hall in August 2014, Tipton touted a pair of immigration bill that he said would help border states use their respective national guard units to secure the border. 
Should marijuana be legalized across the country?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

I think that exceptions should be made to allow for banking and to eliminate the threat of prosecution by federal law for marijuana related offenses that are otherwise legal in Colorado, but as we build a competitive advantage as pioneers in this nacent industry I am not certain that all-out legalization is in our best interest in Colorado.

Scott Tipton (Republican) After Colorado's 2012 vote legalizing marijuana, a Tipton spokesman said the congressman had "serious concerns" about the damaging effect the law could have on children.  In May 2014, Tipton voted against a bill prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Agency from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.
What is your stance on same-sex marriage?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

I am for it.

Scott Tipton (Republican) Tipton believes, "marriage is the union of one man and one woman and that the marriage-centered family is the foundation of our society. I believe legislation regarding the definition of marriage should be left to be the people and their elected representatives in the states, not co-opted by judges and the federal government." 
Should the federal government impose new restrictions on the sale or possession of firearms?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

No.

Scott Tipton (Republican) "As a gun owner and a lifelong member of the NRA, I am committed to ensuring that neither the federal nor state government infringe on the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms. I will oppose any efforts to restrict law-abiding citizens from owning a firearm," Tipton's campaign website states.
Do you support or oppose legalized abortion? Are there any exceptions?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

I am Catholic but I cannot imagine being in the shoes of a woman who must make this choice. This should be a choice between a woman, her doctor, and her god, without the government's interference.

Scott Tipton (Republican) "I am pro-life and I believe abortion should be limited to cases that involve rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother," Tipton's campaign website states.
Should the U.S. be helping arm Syrian rebels to take power away from ISIL--the Islamic extremist group? Why or why not? 
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

It is exceedingly difficult to know who our allies are in the Middle East, groups that we have armed in the past have turned into our enemies and have forced us to put our troops in harm's way to stop the threat that we helped create. I am not certain that arming Syrian rebels is the wisest thing to do.

Scott Tipton (Republican) At a debate in October 2014, Tipton said he's "not seeing" an effective plan from President Obama for stopping the Islamic State terrorists. 
What would you do to help this country’s veterans, many of whom have recently returned from war?
Abel J. Tapia (Democrat)

I would focus on maintaining funding to the VA healthcare system and insisting on common sense improvements in efficiency there. I would also fight to protect educational and job training programs for them.

Scott Tipton (Republican) Tipton has sponsored a bill to expand care for veterans in rural areas by allowing them to receive timely care at facilities that are more accessible geographically. 

Also running is unaffiliated candidate Tisha T. Casida.