On The Political Trail- AFA Hosts Event for Representative Charles Newton

In spite of inclement weather, the AFA was on the road yesterday to Chapman, Alabama where we participated as hosts at an event for Representative Charles Newton, incumbent for House District 90.

House District 90 was materially changed with the recent redistricting and is now composed of all of Butler and Crenshaw Counties, south Montgomery County and parts of Coffee and Conecuh Counties. Obviously a rural area, the timber business is an important part of the district’s economy and we are lucky to have a person like Representative Newton to represent this area.

First elected to the Alabama Legislature in 1989, Representative Newton owns Newton Oil Company in Greenville and is a strong conservative. A recent convert to the Republican Party, with his re-election, he should hit the ground running in the next four year legislative cycle. We anticipate that Representative Newton will become a valued member of leadership and we look forward to working with him.

But first we need to help him get elected. He has opposition in both the Republican Primary on June 3rd and in the General Election in November. Last night’s event hopefully sent a strong message to voters in District 90. In addition to AFA, the event was hosted by the Alabama Cattleman’s Association, the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association and the Alabama Farmer’s Federation. Getting the endorsements of these organizations should show prospective voters that the folks representing the rural economy have confidence in Representative Newton and should send him back to Montgomery for another four years.

edgefieldThe event was hosted by Mason McGowin at his beautiful home, Edgefield, built in 1927 in Chapman. McGowin, a long-time member of AFA and current member of our Board of Directors, is the latest in a family that has been very involved in the timber business for quite some time. Dating back to the 1880’s and the beginnings of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company, the company built a sawmill in Chapman that is still operating today.

Sold in 1966 to Union Camp, the mill has continued operations through several owners to today’s current owner, Coastal Forest Products. Coastal’s Tripp Winters, also an AFA Board Member, attended last night’s reception.

Butler County today is still a vibrant component of Alabama’s timber industry, mainly because of the Chapman sawmill. Representative Newton understands the importance of timber to the area’s rural economy and is committed to preserving the legacy.

We need to help him get elected so that he can accomplish this goal. Charles can be reached at Newton Oil Company (334-382-8005 or newtonoil@centurytel.net). Please contact him to see what you can do to assist his campaign. If you desire to make a campaign contribution, you can send it to ForestPAC (555 Alabama Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36104) and we will make sure it gets delivered to Representative Newton.


Politics 101

The Alabama Forestry Association’s ForestPAC has endorsed Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) for the Alabama House of Representatives District 101.

You may want to listen to his latest radio ad (https://soundcloud.com/dougroberts/chris-pringle-house-dist-101-4)

District 101 is a geographically compact area located west of I-65 in Mobile. Chris has previously represented this district in the Statehouse having won elections in 1994 and 1998. Jamie Ison replaced Chris in 2002, when he stepped down to run for Congress, and has represented the district since then. Jamie chose not to run for re-election this term.

Chris has historically had the support of the Association in his previous races. He has much experience in the timber arena. He is a licensed real-estate agent with Southern Timberlands, a certified prescribe burn manager, a member of the Association and owns Chris Pringle Inc., a construction firm specializing in building hunting camps and commercial remodeling.

But the main reason ForestPAC chose to support Chris was his legislative experience. Having the distinction of being the first freshman legislator ever elected House Republican Caucus Chairman (Minority Leader), he has the relationships and capability to hit the ground running.

He is a strong conservative with an A+ rating by the NRA and an A rating by the Christian Coalition. He understands the difficult decisions that are going to be necessary to make systemic change and is completely on-board with the Association’s drive for fiscal responsibility.

Chris has an opponent in the Republican primary but no general election competition. So whoever wins the primary on June 3rd will be the next representative for District 101.

Please contact Chris at chrispringle@southerntimberlands.com and offer to pitch in to help in his campaign. He could use financial resources and volunteer support.



Legislative Session Wrap Up

The 2014 regular session of the Alabama Legislature is in the books and the time for the Governor to “pocket veto” legislation has expired.

So, what were some of the primary accomplishments this session?

Of most importance, the appropriations bills for the General Fund agencies (HB235 – Act 14-284) and the Education Fund (SB184 – Act 14-456) were passed and the Governor has signed them into law.  More on the details of the budgets will be coming later.  With the Governor’s signature, the need for a special session is diminished.

Several bills dealing with restrictions on public assistance were enacted into law that; (1) requires drug testing (for recipients with previous drug issues), (2) prohibits use of public funds for alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and other non-essential items, (3) requires prospective recipients to show that they have applied for three jobs prior to receiving assistance and clarifies that a prospective recipient does not qualify for assistance if they left prior employment voluntarily or without good cause, and (4) makes the fraudulent use of public assistance a crime (for both the recipient and potentially the provider).

A bill (HB9- Act 14-399) was passed creating the Fair Ballot Commission whose purpose will be to provide the public with a fair and accurate explanation of statewide ballot measures.  Sixty days prior to a vote, the Commission shall publish a Ballot Statement that shall include a plain language summary of the statewide ballot measure, the legal or constitutional authority of its passage, the effect of the statewide ballot measure if it is passed, including its cost and source of funding and the effect of the statewide ballot measure if it is defeated.

A constitutional amendment setting up a vote on the Sports Person’s Bill of Rights was adopted ((HB322- Act 14-286) that clarifies that the people of the state have the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife subject to reasonable regulations that promote conservation and management of fish and wildlife and preserves the future of hunting and fishing.  It further states that hunting and fishing by the public is the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.

An unemployment compensation bill (HB109- Act 14-436) deals with definition of an “employing unit” and would require ownership of at lease 65% of the business located in the State of Alabama to be responsible for providing unemployment compensation.

The “Revolving Door” bill (SB36- Act 14-440) was passed precluding public officials from lobbying their respective former legislative bodies for a period of two years after leaving public office.  A legislative body includes the Alabama Legislature, county commissions and city councils.

A referendum allowing a 7.5% increase in property taxes will be on the ballot soon in Macon County.  The bill (SB468- Act 14-310) was a local bill and the proceeds from the increase will go to fund the Little Texas Volunteer Fire Department.  If this measure prevails at the ballot box, we will most likely see similar initiatives in other areas of the state.  We will provide commentary on local bills that raise taxes at a later date.

What were some measures that did not pass?

Consolidation bills that promoted efficiencies in state government operations were introduced that did not get enacted.  These included merging the Alabama Forestry Commission into a newly named Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Industries, merging Pardons and Paroles and eliminating the Alcohol Beverage Control Board and reorganizing the Alabama Legislative offices.  We anticipate all these efforts to be renewed next year.

A bill promoting transparency in state government by removing the Examiner’s of Public Accounts from under the Alabama Legislature and placing its audit function in the office of the State Auditor had passed the House but died in the Senate.

No Assembly Required

Isn’t it nice to receive a gift and see that there is no assembly required?  You open the package and its ready to go…you get the immediate benefit….

 Well that is the very reason that the Alabama Forestry Association and ForestPAC is supporting Steve French for the Alabama House of Representatives.

 Steve is a former legislator, having served in Alabama Senate for 12 years, and was recognized at the time as being one of the Senate’s most fiscally conservative members.  Unfortunately, as a Republican, Steve served in the minority at the time and his efforts were not appreciated.

 Steve is ready to govern from day one…let me remind you of some of his past actions…

 In the 2004 legislative session he sponsored a bill (SB424) to create a responsible budgeting process (the precursor to the Rolling Reserve Act) six years prior to its eventual passage.  Two important parts of this bill did not survive ultimate enactment; first it applied to the General Fund as well as the Education Trust Fund and second, it was intended to be enacted in conjunction with a constitutional amendment to lock in the requirements and avoid the conflict of laws issue we have today.

 In 2005, he sponsored a bill (SB25) that would prohibit the legislature to use non-recurring income to fund ongoing expenses.  Still a good idea…still an initiative that needs to be enacted and certainly one that AFA would aggressively support.

 In 2006, he sponsored a bill (SB202) that would have created a constitutional amendment that would have significantly limited the use of eminent domain.  Legislation was ultimately passed, but not nearly as helpful to private property owners as SB202 would have been.

 In 2008, he sponsored a bill (SB367) to change the auditing function of the state by abolishing the Office of Examiners of Public Accounts.  In the recent 2014 session, AFA strongly supported similar legislation, but it still has not been enacted.

 Finally, in the first special session of the 2009 legislative session, Steve introduced and passed a bill (SB14) setting forth a constitutional amendment (later ratified by general vote of the people) to create the proration prevention accounts within the Alabama Trust Fund to assist the budgets during challenging economic times.  These accounts were drained the very next fiscal year to allow the state to survive during one of the worst recessions in our country’s history.

 Some of his ideas have been implemented since the Republicans have gained the majority, but several have not.  These are good ideas that need to be enacted.

 Steve faces three opponents in the June Republican Primary for House District 46 (Birmingham area- mainly Mountain Brook, Homewood and Hoover) and he needs our help to get elected. 

 We need a powerful voice in the House of Representatives that will be the champion for initiatives that address fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency.  Steve French is ready to serve, and there will be no on the job training required…

 There is much left to do and he will be ready to go day one…..with no assembly required.