AFA Members Know Luther is the Right Choice

The election for the United States Senate is tomorrow.  AFA has endorsed Senator Strange because of his unwavering support of private landowner rights.  You might be interested in what some of your fellow members are saying:

“The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution recognizes the sovereignty of the states.  Senator Luther Strange, as Alabama’s Attorney General fought tirelessly to oppose the Obama Administration’s attempts to erode the rights of the states.  He has continued this battle by supporting President Trump’s efforts to reign in the federal government’s overreach.  I am going to vote for Luther and suggest your consideration to do likewise.”  Gray Skipper, Vice President, Scotch Plywood Company, Inc., Fulton

“Tuesday, September 26th is election day in Alabama.  I hope you plan to vote and to vote for Luther Strange.  Luther is highly qualified and his leadership is well known.  For example, it was Luther who led the Attorneys General from states affected by the BP oil spill to convince Congress that those states should receive the BP money.  He has successfully prosecuted politicians for corruption.  He served our state with honor and dignity and will continue to serve the nation the same way.”  Ann Bedsole, Mobile

“Luther Strange has consistently and strongly supported forest landowners and the forest industry while serving as Attorney General.  He knows and understands our issues and will be a respected leader for us in the U.S. Senate.  He deserves our support.”  Fred Stimpson, President, Canfor Southern Pine, Mobile

“The leadership of Jasper Lumber is grateful that Senator Strange took the time to come visit our facility and to meet the hard working, dedicated people of Walker County.  Senator Strange is fully committed to small business and creating an environment in which small businesses can thrive and allow working people to prosper through tax reform and reducing bureaucratic policies that weigh down the opportunities for growth.”  Al Bracewell, President, Jasper Lumber, Jasper

“It’s been said that if you want to know how well someone will act in the future, look at their past.  The past track record for Luther affecting forestry is unwavering.  We’ll continue to have an advocate if Luther remains in the U.S. Senate.”  Montgomery Simpson, Governmental Affairs Manager, Weyerhaeuser

“Luther stands for the values that are the foundation of the Alabama Forestry Association, smaller government with accountability to the tax payer“  Hank Bauer, Jr., AFA President

The election tomorrow is tightly contested and it’s important that those supporting Luther turn out to vote.  Please let your friends, family and co-workers know the importance of their vote.  Luther Strange should clearly be the choice of landowners and the forestry industry.

 

Luther Strange Works to Protect Alabama Landowners

 

Quietly, behind the scenes and with no political objective, Luther Strange has worked to assist private landowners from government intrusion.  In many cases, the office of Attorney General (in conservative states) was the only check available to the inexhaustible thirst of the Obama Administration and the increasingly liberal court system that he appointed to infringe on the private property rights of landowners.

Here is one prime example:

In 2001, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service listed the Dusky Gopher Frog as an endangered species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.  Several years passed and in 2009 (only after the Obama administration took control and a lawsuit was settled with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group), the Service, in a proposed rule making, designated an area of Mississippi to be critical habitat for the frog.  This area was where the frog was currently located and the Service felt the need to protect the area to ensure the “conservation” of the species.

The environmental group objected to the proposed area complaining that it wasn’t suitable for the “recovery” of the species; a novel interpretation of the ESA’s statutory requirements.  The Service however agreed to this new characterization and issued a final rule that not only included the acreage in Mississippi, but also acreage in Louisiana that admittedly did not have suitable habitat for the frog and had not seen this species in over 50 years.

The Louisiana land was owned and leased by Weyerhaeuser which brought suit in federal court challenging the critical habitat designation.  The federal district judge ruled in favor of the Service and the case was appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.  A three judge panel (two Obama and one Bush appointees) reviewed the case and upheld the lower court ruling on a 2-1 vote.

In the dissenting opinion offered by Judge Priscilla Owen (the Bush appointee) she stated “the majority opinion interprets the ESA to allow the Government to impose restrictions on private land use even though the land: is not occupied by the endangered species and has not been for more than fifty years; is not near areas inhabited by the species; cannot sustain the species without substantial alterations and future annual maintenance, neither of which the Government has the authority to effectuate, as it concedes; and does not play any supporting role in the existence of current habitat for the species.”  She goes on to note that “if the Endangered Species Act permitted the actions taken by the Government in this case, then vast portions of the United States could be designated as ‘critical habitat” because it is theoretically possible, even if not probable, that land could be modified to sustain the introduction or reintroduction of an endangered species…..the majority opinion’s holding is unprecedented and sweeping.” (Emphasis added)

After the panel’s decision, Weyerhaeuser then asked for the entire appellate court to review the case.  Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange agreed with Weyerhaeuser’s position and Judge Owen’s analysis.  He led an effort to bring 15 state Attorney Generals to jointly petition the court to support the request for the full court to review the case.  His staff prepared the amicus brief that the state’s filed in the matter.

Unfortunately the request for rehearing was denied and now the case has been appealed to the United States Supreme Court.  Alabama and the other states have continued to fight this case and have now petitioned the Supreme Court to take up the case.

If this ruling is not taken up and overturned by the Supreme Court it will stand as the law for the 5th Circuit jurisdiction and can be relied upon as precedent by other jurisdictions.

As Alabama’s Attorney General, Luther Strange has distinguished himself in working diligently to protect the rights of private landowners.  The Dusky Gopher Frog is just one example of his efforts to curb the Government’s enthusiasm in utilizing federal laws, agencies and courts to direct land use and land management practices.

We have an opportunity to show our appreciation to Luther Strange.  The election for United States Senate is next Tuesday, September 26th.  AFA has endorsed Luther and he needs your vote.

Luther Strange Has Earned AFA Support

The headline in the Montgomery Advertiser on October 6, 2014 read “U.S. Supreme Court rejects Alabama school-funding case.”

We can (and should) thank Luther Strange for this victory.

There have been several important landmark dates in the history of the Alabama Forestry Association; the election that defeated Bob Riley’s $1 billion tax hike (Amendment One) and the transfer of power in the Statehouse in 2010 come quickly to mind.  However, the final disposition of the Lynch v. State of Alabama lawsuit has to be the most important for Alabama’s landowners.

The lawsuit, first filed in 2008, was brought by plaintiff’s challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s ad valorem tax system.  Specifically, they sought to do away with the differential assessment for different types of land uses and to terminate the current use valuation for timberland owners.  Had they been successful, Alabama’s timberland owners would have been required to pay property taxes at a rate at least ten times greater than the current rate of taxation.

Upon his election in 2010, AFA staff met with Attorney General Strange and his legal team to discuss the Lynch suit.  He quickly grasped the importance of the lawsuit and pledged to devote the resources needed to effectively manage the litigation.  In addition, he agreed to allow AFA to assist the state with further legal expertise, conducting studies and preparation of expert witnesses.

Brought in federal court, the District Court for the Northern District of Alabama (Birmingham) ruled in favor of the State and then later the Federal District Court of Appeals in Atlanta did the same.

Finally, after six long years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal expense, the United States Supreme Court gave notice that it would not take up the case and the case was over.

The State’s defense was well managed and the lawyers that General Strange had on his staff were well prepared and very talented.

This outcome could easily have gone the other direction if the State of Alabama’s Attorney General’s office had been occupied by someone driven by political ambition.  Thankfully, that was not the case in this instance.  Luther Strange knew the law, knew what to do and did so without any consideration of the political consequences.

Luther Strange’s management of the Lynch lawsuit is just one of the reasons that the Alabama Forestry Association has endorsed him to be elected to the United States Senate.  He has helped Alabama’s landowners and deserves our support.  The election is next Tuesday, September 26th.  AFA highly recommends that you turn out and vote for Luther Strange.