State Government Efficiency- The Alabama ABC Privatization Effort

abc1The Administrator of the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has gone on the offensive to try and thwart the legislature’s attempt to remove the State of Alabama from the retail liquor business…see- http://alreporter.com/archives/archive-2014/march-2014/146-state/7478-a-risk-worth-taking.html.

Hmmm….. Well that’s a surprise.

His arguments are these. (1) The State would lose money, (2) employees will lose their jobs, (3) more liquor would be consumed in Alabama, and (4) liquor prices would go up.
Here is an analysis of his arguments:

The State will lose money.

Currently, the State “marks up” its cost of liquor (30% for sales in state-owned stores and 16.99% for sales in privately-owned stores) and then the marked up price has a liquor tax applied (56%). Then sales taxes are applied to that amount (6% in state-owned stores and 4% in privately-owned stores).

abc 4
As illustrated in this example, technically the State will lose money, but only if you define the loss as those of “gross proceeds”. Yes, the proceeds from the markup, the liquor tax and sales tax will be less. For every $10 of liquor the loss will be about $2.50 (actual numbers will depend on the markup applied by private-owners as that will affect sales taxes).

The reality though is that the State will actually gain money when you look at it from the perspective of “net proceeds”. In FY12, the ABC had gross liquor retail sales of $257 million. When you back out the taxes and markup, the cost of the liquor to the state was $120 million. Since the State will lose $2.50 per every $10.00 of liquor purchased, the amount of revenue the State will lose will be approximately $30 million.

abc2However, the cost of providing retail service in FY12 was $46.2 million. Of that $30.7 million can be attributed to employee wages, social security, retirement and health insurance.

Based on this analysis, it appears that the State would have a net increase of $16 million annually.

State Employees will Lose their Jobs

Again, on the surface this indeed appears to be the case. But what is not being told is that these state employees will be given opportunities for other state jobs and will certainly be considered for employment as these state-owned stores convert to private-owned stores. If they choose the private sector, will their compensation be as good? Depends on whether they were overpaid or underpaid relative to the free market as state employees.

The ABC currently has 764 employees, with 618 of them working in retail. Of the remaining 146 ABC employees, 105 are in administration and 41 work with the warehousing side of the agency. That amount of administrative support should go down commensurately with the downsizing of the agency.

The proposed legislation allows for displaced workers to be given preferential treatment when applying for other state jobs. The employee will be given an additional five points on their state examination and an agency, if they pass on hiring a displaced worker, has to justify their action with the State Personnel Board.

Additionally, displaced workers will be given a preference of 20% when bidding on the retail license and permit fees for the privatized store location. This preference transfers to the private individual/company if they hire the displaced worker. This is a big incentive for the private sector to hire the displaced workers.

More Liquor will be Consumed in Alabama

Not sure how this conclusion is derived.  Longer operating hours do not necessarily translate into more sales.  The legislation merely converts current state-owned facilities to the private sector. Actually, if more liquor is purchased in Alabama, then that translates to more revenue advantage for getting out of the retail business in the first place.

Liquor Prices Will Go Up

This is true when you only consider the sales from the privatized state-owned stores. As illustrated in the example above, a consumer that previously only shopped at the state-owned stores will now pay approximately 6% more at a privately owned store than the previously state-owned store. This is based on the assumption that the private-owned store has a markup of 20%, but does not include the competitive free market aspect of privatization. Competition may actually force markups down and could result in consumers actually paying less.

Canfor’s CEO Don Kayne to Participate in AFA Annual Meeting

kayneThe Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting is scheduled for September 13-15, 2015 at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama. Building on recent success, preliminary plans are underway to make this year’s meeting another can’t miss moment.

We are pleased to announce that Don Kayne, Chief Executive Officer of Canfor Corporation and Canfor Pulp, has agreed to participate on the Monday CEO Panel. The Monday panel will focus on national leaders; their views toward the future of the timber industry and their commitment to ethics and business integrity within their corporate governance structure.

Mr. Kayne was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Canfor Corporation on May 5, 2011. He was additionally appointed Chief Executive Officer of Canfor Pulp Products Incorporated on September 30, 2012.

Don has spent his entire career at Canfor, starting out as a regional sales representative in 1979. Prior to being appointed CEO, Don spent 10 years as Canfor’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and is one of the lead architects of the market for British Columbia lumber in China. Don’s work growing markets for Canfor products around the world has provided him with deep connections to markets and customers in every region Canfor serves.

Don is currently a Director and Past Chairman of the Forest Products Association of Canada, Council of Forest Industries, Alberta Forest Products Association and the BC Lumber Trade Council. In 2014, Don was appointed to the bi-national Softwood Lumber Board and currently serves as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Programs Committee. He is also Chairman of the charitable organization Educating Girls of Rural China Foundation, which works to transform the lives of women and communities in rural areas of western China by providing access to education.

Canfor recently made the headlines in Alabama through its acquisition of Scotch & Gulf Lumber, LLC of Mobile in 2013. Headquartered in Mobile, Alabama, Scotch Gulf’s primary operations consist of three sawmills in Mobile, Fulton and Jackson, Alabama, producing Southern Pine dimension lumber products.

With origins dating back 125 years, Scotch Gulf is one of the premier Southern Yellow Pine producers in the southern U.S. Reflecting planned near-term capital investments; the operation has a combined production capacity of 440 million board feet.

In a press release announcing the acquisition, Don Kayne said, “This agreement provides access to an exceptional fibre base, increases our Southern Pine production capacity to more than a billion board feet and will improve our ability to serve our valued US customers. Scotch Gulf’s values and approach to the market are closely aligned with those of Canfor, and we are extremely pleased to have been given this opportunity to work with the Scotch Gulf management team to integrate that company’s operating assets and extensive history with our broader North American operations.”

Current AFA Board Chairman Fred Stimpson, formerly head of Scotch Gulf is now the President of Canfor’s U.S. South Operations.

Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (Canfor) is a leading Canadian integrated forest products company based in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), involved primarily in the lumber business, with production facilities in Canada (British Columbia and Alberta) and the United States (North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi) and forest operations in British Columbia and Alberta.

Canfor Corporation holds a 50.5% interest in Canfor Pulp Products Inc. (Canfor Pulp), which is based in Vancouver, BC, and is a leading global producer of pulp, paper and green energy. Canfor Pulp owns and operates three pulp mills in Prince George, BC, which are among the lowest-cost NBSK pulp producers in Canada. Canfor sold a chemi-thermo-mechanical facility in Taylor, BC, to Canfor Pulp in early 2015.

Canfor Pulp’s three mills in Prince George have a production capacity of more than one million tonnes of northern softwood market kraft pulp, 90% of which is bleached to become northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK) pulp. It is the world’s fourth-largest producer of market NBSK. Its facility in Taylor has an annual capacity of 220,000 tonnes of bleached chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp.

Canfor Pulp’s specialty paper group produces about 140,000 tonnes of kraft paper from a forest resource with high-strength, fine northern fibres that bond better than almost any other fibres in the world. We have bleached, unbleached and coloured grades.

At the end of December 2014, Canfor Corporation directly employed 5,313 people. This does not include employees who will join the company upon the close of announced acquisitions.

Canfor’s lumber operations have a current annual production capacity of approximately 5.6 billion board feet of lumber. This includes 100% of the volume of three companies being acquired through phased acquisitions – Scotch Gulf Lumber, Beadles Lumber Company and Balfour Lumber Company. It does not include volume from the acquisition of Southern Lumber Company, which is expected to close in early 2015.

AFA Legislative Update- Week 3

statehouse2The Alabama Legislature re-convened on Tuesday, March 17th for its third week of work for the 2015 Legislative Regular Session. Meeting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the Legislature has now used up 8 of its allotted 30 legislative days. The House has introduced 345 bills and the Senate has introduced 299 bills.

The Legislature will take off next week for Spring Break and will convene Tuesday, March 31st.

Bills of interest that AFA is following (note: italics indicate action that occurred this week):

Forestry/Agriculture:

SB203 (Orr)- Merges Alabama Forestry Commission into the newly named Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Services.

SB103 (Scofield)/HB217 (Boothe)- Removes limit on tags receiving a discount for farm vehicles. Senate version passed out of committee and received 2nd reading. House version was passed out of committee and is on the special order calendar for consideration by the full House on 3/31.

SB127 (Whatley)/HB 188 (Lee)- Eliminates the sales tax on farm equipment. Currently the sales tax for farm equipment is 1.5%.

SB116 (Orr)- Creates felony crime and penalties for hunting on land without permission. Passed committee and received 2nd reading.

hankjrSB123 (Whatley)- Requires permit and $50 fee for game feeders. After testimony provided in support of the bill provided by Hank Williams, Jr, an amended version passed by Senate Ag Committee.

 

 

 

Fiscal Responsibility:

SB12 (Sanford)- Establishes Alabama Recurring Revenue Fund and distributes funds to GF and ETF proportionally. Allows GF to participate in growth tax revenues. AFA supports.

SB75 (Beasley)- Medicaid Expansion- AFA opposes.

SB115 (Orr)- State ABC Agency phase out. AFA supports.

SB98 (Ross)- Repeals Rolling Reserve Act. AFA opposes.

HB135 (Clouse)- General Fund Appropriations Bill

HB155 (Poole)/SB179 (Pittman)- Education Fund Appropriations Bill

SB231 (Allen)- Creates Legacy Trust Fund for BP funds and other windfalls.

SB248 (Pittman)- Constitutional Amendment- Rolling Reserve Act- AFA supports.

SB281 (Holley)/HB330 (Boothe)- Rolling Reserve Act changes.

HB322 (Poole)- Rolling Reserve Act changes.

Taxes:

HB139 (McMillan)- Tax increase on tobacco products. Part of Governor’s tax increase package.

HB142 (Hill)- Combined reporting for corporate income tax. Part of Governor’s tax increase package. AFA opposes.

HB183 (Shiver)- Monroe County excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel. AFA opposes. Passed out of House and has been assigned to Senate Committee on Local Legislation #1.

HB240 (Johnson)- Repeals withholding exemptions from state income taxes. Part of Governor’s tax increase package. Passed out of committee and awaits consideration before the full House.

HB267 (Clouse)- Increases the sales tax on leased autos to 4%. Part of Governor’s tax increase package.

HB268 (Clouse)- Increases the sales tax on purchase of autos to 3%. Part of Governor’s tax increase package.

SB227 (Singleton)- Increases advalorem taxes. AFA opposes.

Education:

collins2SB45 (Marsh)/HB192 (Collins)- School Choice/Charter School Bill- Senate bill substituted in committee and has received its second reading. Senate passed the bill and it has been transmitted to the House where it now has cleared committee and has received its second reading. It is now in position for final passage. The House passed an amended version, returned it to the Senate where they concurred and sent to the Governor who signed it on Thursday.

marsh3SB71 (Marsh)- Alabama Accountability Act amendments. Received a public hearing and is expected to be voted on in committee next week. It was voted out of committee this week and is being considered by the full Senate.

SB101 (Glover)- Repeals Common Core.

HB270 (Ford)- Repeals Alabama Accountability Act. AFA Opposes.

Incentives/Job Creation:

HB57 (Beech)- Alabama Veterans and Rural Jobs Act. Part of Governor’s Incentives Package works in conjunction with HB58, The Alabama Jobs Act. Provides incentives to companies making capital investments and providing jobs in rural counties and to veterans. Passed committee and received second reading. Passed by the House and received its first reading in the Senate. Received a favorable report in Senate Committee and moves to full Senate.

HB58 (Baker)- Alabama Jobs Act. Part of Governor’s Incentive Package and repeals existing statutory capital investment incentives for new and expanding businesses and replaces with new incentives. Passed committee and received second reading. Passed the House and received its first reading in the Senate. Received a favorable report in Senate Committee and moves to full Senate.

HB59 (Lee)- Alabama Reinvestment and Abatements Act gives tax incentives to companies that re-invest in their businesses and extends those incentives to potentially 20 years. Passed committee and received second reading. Passed the House and received its first reading in the Senate. Received a favorable report in Senate Committee and was then passed by the full Senate. Awaits Governor’s signature.

General Governance:

SB55 (Pittman)- Restricts state agencies to amend rule-makings only once every 10 years.

SB57 (Pittman)- Term Limits, reported out of committee and received its second reading.

SB73 (Brewbaker)/HB78 (Ball) – Initiative and Referendum- AFA opposes.

SB80 (Ward)/HB110 (Williams)- Limits manufacturer liability. AFA supports. Senate version was reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee and received its 2nd reading. House version also passed the House Judiciary Committee and received its 2nd reading. Senate bill passed Senate and has been referred to House Judiciary. House bill passed House and has been referred to Senate Judiciary.

SB16 (Marsh)/HB193 (Davis)- Proposed constitutional amendment to allow statewide referendum to give counties limited home rule authority. AFA amended the bill in Senate committee and it now has been reported out and has had its second reading. The House version has also been passed through committee as amended. The House bill is on the special order calendar for the House on 3/31.

Senator Pittman Introduces AFA Priority Bill

pittman2Senator Trip Pittman (R-Daphne) has introduced SB248 which sets forth a proposed amendment to the constitution incorporating the current Rolling Reserve Act. The proposed legislation requires that education appropriations each year be limited by a cap that is determined by an average of the actual revenues of the highest 14 years in the prior 15 years.

Any actual revenues received in the Educational Trust Fund for the year in excess of the cap will be distributed first to pay back the Education Rainy Fund housed in the Alabama Trust Fund (which should be fully repaid within this fiscal year) and then the remainder will be allocated 70% to a new proration prevention account and 30% to a capital account to be used for school construction.

pig

The bill was co-sponsored by 21 members of the Senate and is being regarded as a Senate Republican Caucus priority bill. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance & Taxation Education Fund Committee chaired by Senator Pittman.

Senator Pittman continues to demonstrate his capable leadership, especially in the area of fiscal responsibility. AFA characterizes the Rolling Reserve Act as one of the three most important fiscally responsible initiatives ever instituted by the State of Alabama (along with the balanced budget requirement in the constitution and the formation of the Alabama Trust Fund that theoretically protects oil & gas royalty income in perpetuity).

The Rolling Reserve Act cap is in peril in the development of the FY16 Education Appropriation. Because it is currently only a statute, it only serves as a planning tool until the next legislature decides to override its requirements.

Putting it in the constitution will preclude this override. The Governor’s proposed FY16 Education appropriations, if enacted, would override the cap.

Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) is expected to carry the legislation in the House.

Please contact your legislators and ask them to support this legislation.

Orr Introduces AFC Merger Bill

afcSenator Arthur Orr (R- Decatur) introduced SB203 this week which proposes to merge the Alabama Forestry Commission into the newly created Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Consumer Services. Senator Orr introduced similar legislation late in the session last year and it died without being considered in committee.

SB203 has been referred to the Senate’s Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee which Senator Orr chairs. This bill is one of several bills introduced by Senator Orr in his effort to streamline government.

AFA is currently monitoring the legislation and has not taken a position on the bill. The Association has a clearly articulated board policy supporting improving efficiencies in government through consolidation of state agencies.

However, with respect to this legislation, at a minimum, any consideration of restructuring the AFC must include clear language that the consolidation; (1) must be a true merger and not an acquisition, (2) must preserve the core mission of forest fire protection and (3) must protect the funding for the core mission.

The current Department of Agriculture & Industries is run by the Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries, John McMillan. The Commissioner is elected by state-wide vote every four years. The Department is currently governed by the State Board of Agriculture & Industries which is composed of 11 members; the Governor, the Commissioner, the Director of the Cooperative Extension Service of Auburn University, the Administrative Head of Agriculture at Auburn University, four outstanding farmers and three outstanding leaders of industry.

Senator Orr’s bill reconstitutes the newly named State Board of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Services to include 14 members; the Governor, the Commissioner, the Administrative Head of Agriculture at Auburn University, the Administrative Head of Forestry at Auburn University, five farmers (appointed by the Governor from a list provided by ALFA), three forest landowners (appointed by the Governor from a list provided by AFA)and two licensed and registered foresters (appointed by the Governor from a list provided by AFA).

Currently the State Forester is selected by the Alabama Forestry Commission with the advice and consent of the Governor. In SB208, the current State Forester shall remain, but once the position is vacated, the new State Forester shall be appointed by the Governor based upon the recommendation of three of the five forestry board members.

You can read a copy of the proposed legislation here.

We will keep you updated on this bill as the legislative session moves forward….

AFA Legislative Update- Week 2

house chamberThe Alabama Legislature re-convened on Tuesday, March 10th for its second week of work for the 2015 Legislative Regular Session. Meeting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the Legislature has now used up 5 of its allotted 30 legislative days. The House has introduced 279 bills and the Senate has introduced 232 bills.

The Legislature will convene next Tuesday, March 17th and is expected to be in session for three days next week.

Bills of interest that AFA is following (note: italics indicate action that occured this week):

SB12 (Sanford)- Establishes Alabama Recurring Revenue Fund and distributes funds to GF and ETF proportionally. Allows GF to participate in growth tax revenues. AFA supports.

SB16 (Marsh)/HB193 (Davis)- Proposed constitutional amendment to allow statewide referendum to give counties limited home rule authority. AFA amended the bill in Senate committee and it now has been reported out and has had its second reading. The House version has also been passed through committee as amended.

SB45 (Marsh)/HB192 (Collins)- School Choice/Charter School Bill- Senate bill substituted in committee and has received its second reading. Senate passed the bill and it has been transmitted to the House where it now has cleared committee and has received its second reading. It is now in position for final passage.

SB55 (Pittman)- Restricts state agencies to amend rule-makings only once every 10 years.

SB57 (Pittman)- Term Limits, reported out of committee and received its second reading.

SB71 (Marsh)- Alabama Accountability Act amendments. Received a public hearing and is expected to be voted on in committee next week.

SB73 (Brewbaker)/HB78 (Ball) – Initiative and Referendum- AFA opposes.

SB75 (Beasley)- Medicaid Expansion- AFA opposes.

SB80 (Ward)/HB110 (Williams)- Limits manufacturer liability. AFA supports. Senate version was reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee and received its 2nd reading. House version also passed the House Judiciary Committee and received its 2nd reading.

SB98 (Ross)- Repeals Rolling Reserve Act. AFA opposes.

SB101 (Glover)- Repeals Common Core.

SB103 (Scofield)/HB217 (Boothe)- Removes limit on tags receiving a discount for farm vehicles. Senate version passed out of committee and received 2nd reading.

SB115 (Orr)- State ABC Agency phase out. AFA supports.

SB116 (Orr)- Creates felony crime and penalties for hunting on land without permission. Passed committee and received 2nd reading.

SB123 (Whatley)- Requires permit and $50 fee for game feeders.

SB127 (Whatley)/HB 188 (Lee)- Eliminates the sales tax on farm equipment. Currently the sales tax for farm equipment is 1.5%.

HB57 (Beech)- Alabama Veterans and Rural Jobs Act. Part of Governor’s Incentives Package works in conjunction with HB58, The Alabama Jobs Act. Provides incentives to companies making capital investments and providing jobs in rural counties and to veterans. Passed committee and received second reading. Passed by the House and received its first reading in the Senate.

HB58 (Baker)- Alabama Jobs Act. Part of Governor’s Incentive Package and repeals existing statutory capital investment incentives for new and expanding businesses and replaces with new incentives. Passed committee and received second reading. Passed the House and received its first reading in the Senate.

HB59 (Lee)- Alabama Reinvestment and Abatements Act gives tax incentives to companies that re-invest in their businesses and extends those incentives to potentially 20 years. Passed committee and received second reading. Passed the House and received its first reading in the Senate.

HB135 (Clouse)- General Fund Appropriations Bill

HB139 (McMillan)- Tax increase on tobacco products. Part of Governor’s tax increase package.

HB142 (Hill)- Combined reporting for corporate income tax. Part of Governor’s tax increase package. AFA opposes.

HB155 (Poole)/SB179 (Pittman)– Education Fund Appropriations Bill

HB183 (Shiver)- Monroe County excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel. AFA opposes.

SB203 (Orr)- Merges Alabama Forestry Commission into the newly named Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Services.

HB240 (Johnson)- Repeals withholding exemptions from state income taxes. Part of Governor’s tax increase package.

HB267 (Clouse)- Increases the sales tax on leased autos to 4%. Part of Governor’s tax increase package.

HB268 (Clouse)- Increases the sales tax on purchase of autos to 3%. Part of Governor’s tax increase package.

HB270 (Ford)- Repeals Alabama Accountability Act.  AFA Opposes.

AFA Weekly Legislative Update

statehouseThe Alabama Legislature convened on Tuesday, March 3rd for the beginning of the 2015 Legislative Regular Session. Meeting Tuesday and Thursday, the Legislature has now used up 2 of its allotted 30 legislative days. The House has introduced 195 bills and the Senate has introduced 167 bills.

The Legislature will convene next Tuesday, March 10th and is expected to be in session for three days next week.

 

 

Bills of interest that AFA is following:

SB12 (Sanford)- Establishes Alabama Recurring Revenue Fund and distributes funds to GF and ETF proportionally. Allows GF to participate in growth tax revenues. AFA supports.

SB16 (Marsh)/HB193 (Davis)- Proposed constitutional amendment to allow statewide referendum to give counties limited home rule authority. AFA amended the bill in Senate committee and it now has been reported out and has had its second reading.

SB45 (Marsh)/HB192 (Collins)- School Choice/Charter School Bill- Senate bill substituted in committee and has received its second reading.

SB55 (Pittman)- Restricts state agencies to amend rulemakings only once every 10 years.

SB57 (Pittman)- Term Limits, reported out of committee and received its second reading.

SB71 (Marsh)- Alabama Accountability Act amendments

SB73 (Brewbaker)/HB78 (Ball) – Initiative and Referendum- AFA opposes.

SB75 (Beasley)- Medicaid Expansion- AFA opposes.

SB80 (Ward)/HB110 (Williams)- Limits manufacturer liability. AFA supports.

SB98 (Ross)- Repeals Rolling Reserve Act. AFA opposes.

SB101 (Glover)- Repeals Common Core.

SB103 (Scofield)- Removes limit on tags receiving a discount for farm vehicles.

SB115 (Orr)- State ABC Agency phase out. AFA supports.

SB116 (Orr)- Creates felony crime and penalties for hunting on land without permission.

SB123 (Whatley)- Requires permit and $50 fee for game feeders.

SB127 (Whatley)/HB 188 (Lee)- Eliminates the sales tax on farm equipment. Currently the sales tax for farm equipment is 1.5%.

HB57 (Beech)- Alabama Veterans and Rural Jobs Act. Part of Governor’s Incentives Package works in conjunction with HB58, The Alabama Jobs Act. Provides incentives to companies making capital investments and providing jobs in rural counties and to veterans. Passed committee and received second reading.

HB58 (Baker)- Alabama Jobs Act. Part of Governor’s Incentive Package and repeals existing statutory capital investment incentives for new and expanding businesses and replaces with new incentives. Passed committee and received second reading.

HB59 (Lee)- Alabama Reinvestment and Abatements Act gives tax incentives to companies that re-invest in their businesses and extends those incentives to potentially 20 years. Passed committee and received second reading.

HB135 (Clouse)- General Fund Appropriations Bill

HB139 (McMillan)- Tax increase on tobacco products. Part of Governor’s tax increase package.

HB142 (Hill)- Combined reporting for corporate income tax. Part of Governor’s tax increase package. AFA opposes.

HB155 (Poole) Education Fund Appropriations Bill

HB183 (Shiver)- Monroe County excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel. AFA opposes.

HB184(Shiver)- Constitutional Amendment for Monroe County taxing tobacco products.

Jeff Sessions – You Gotta Love Him

Jeff Sessions for President. There it’s out there….

sessions2Senator Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III, Selma native and proud AFA member, is clearly the best choice for the job. AFA headquarters, 555 Alabama Street in Montgomery, is now ground zero for the “Draft Jeff” campaign.  As the picture to the left indicates, Senator Sessions is willing to fight for what is right….even if it appears on most occasions that he is doing so by himself.

 

 

Of course this is being offered in a light hearted manner, but seriously….

Why not?

What better candidate is out there that is willing to stand up and take on Washington than Jeff Sessions? Who better exemplifies conservative values? Who better represents what Alabamians want in a leader?

Most importantly, what public official has done a better job at earning the trust of his constituents?

The answer is nobody. There isn’t one. Not a dad gum single one of the folks being mentioned as a candidate for President has the body of work that he has when it comes to conservative principles and looking out for the ordinary folks. One thing is for sure…with Senator Sessions you know exactly where he is positioned on public policy issues.

Watch this video as he takes on Gina McCarthy, the Administrator of the EPA. It’s priceless and vintage Sessions.

Look folks, we recently re-elected Senator Sessions to his fourth term as our United States Senator. He has done such a great job for Alabama that he didn’t even have any opposition. And now the rest of the country is starting to pay attention.

Think about this…the next President of the United States will determine the future make-up of our Supreme Court (hopefully, it will not materially change in the next few years). Who do we want in charge when that happens?

 

Holtzclaw Takes on Recent License Fee Increase

dlThe State of Alabama, on February 9, 2015, increased its driver’s license fees by 50%, from $23.50 to $36.25. This increase caused quite a stir; enough such that one Alabama Senator has decided to take action.

Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R- Madison) introduced SB44 on the first day of the recently convened 2015 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature. SB44 specifies that setting any charge to the public for issuing driver’s licenses or cards would be subject to the Alabama Administrative Procedures Act.  This act requires state agency rule-makings to follow a process that is open for public discussion and participation.

The bill also contains a provision that makes it retroactive to February 9th and requires the State to credit any person who paid the increased fee with the difference in the amount of the increased fee and the fee prior to the increase.

A $12.75 increase doesn’t sound like much, does it?

The fiscal note accompanying SB44 indicates that as of March 3, 2015, a whopping 79,000 drivers licenses were issued at the increased rate. The fiscal note continues by estimating that the increase for driver’s license fees on an annual basis would be $12.75 million.

Yep, you read it correctly….$12.75 million.

holtzclawTaxes, revenue enhancements, fees, etc. By whatever name you wish to address it, this is real money coming out of the public’s pockets.

Senator Holtzclaw’s bill was considered today by the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee and was carried over until next week.

In case you are interested in weighing in and expressing your opinion on this matter, the Senate Transportation & Energy committee is chaired by Senator Gerald Allen and is composed of Senators Greg Albritton, Clyde Chambliss, Linda Coleman, Gerald Dial, Jimmy Holley, Bill Holtzclaw, Steve Livingston, Del Marsh, Jim McClendon, Arthur Orr, Greg Reed, Quinton Ross, Hank Sanders, Clay Scofield and Tom Whatley.

Supposedly the bill was carried over because information has been provided that there are other “fees” issued by other agencies that can be increased without any oversight and there seems to be interest by the members of the committee to require these fees to be subject to the Administrative Procedures Act as well.

According to Senator Holtzclaw, the bill will be back on the committee’s agenda next week and he intends to ask for a roll call vote (as opposed to a voice vote). This vote will be watched with interest to determine how conservative this new legislature is truly going to be.

Stay tuned……

AFA Releases 2015 Legislative/Regulatory Agenda

AFA 2020 Vision Brochure_v3 1The 2015 Regular Legislative Session begins Tuesday, March 3rd.  A typical session lasts for 30 “legislative” days (a day when the House and/or Senate is actually meeting to conduct business).  The Constitution requires that these 30 legislative days occur before 105 calendar days have expired, so it appears that their work will need to be completed prior to June 15th.

The Alabama Forestry Association has released its 2015 Legislative/Regulatory Agenda and you can find it here.  This agenda is developed as a component piece to the 2020 Vision, which is the long range objectives of the Association to promote systemic change in Alabama’s governance.  The 2020 Vision can be found here.

This year’s work for AFA will include three major legislative initiatives.  First, a constitutional amendment requiring that all one-time windfall payments to the State be placed in the Alabama Trust Fund.  Second, another constitutional amendment placing the Education Fund Rollling Reserve Act in the constitution.  Finally, a joint resolution of the legislature opposing any expansion of Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

As the session progresses, we will be providing detail on these initiatives and other legislation that affects forestry and general Alabama governance.

Put your seat belts on, from all indications this is going to be a wild ride.