Top 20 Fiscally Responsible Legislators- As of May 12, 2015

top20From the Weeds polled 10 respected Alabama legislative insiders to determine a Top 20 ranking for the most conservative legislators based on fiscal issues only. Their responses varied widely and there were a few surprises.

 

Coming in at #5 is Representative Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) who gained attention this past week for voting twice against a massive increase in the tax rate on lubricating oil. The House Ways & Means Education committee voted two times on the bill; with the first vote failing, while several Republicans flipped on the second vote to allow it to prevail. Representative Williams was the only Republican to vote “no” both times.

Also of note is #6, Representative Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville). Ainsworth has introduced legislation to remove all statutory earmarks which would allow the legislature to prioritize spending in order to address the state’s budget challenges.

No surprise is #1 Trip Pittman (R-Daphne). Pittman is known as a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility. He has sponsored and managed a joint resolution expressing the legislature’s desire to not expand Medicaid, introduced legislation to protect the Rolling Reserve Act in the constitution and has championed the overhaul of the management of the two-year college system.

Also not a surprise is #2 Senator Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville). Sanford has introduced a bill, which will have a public hearing in committee tomorrow, that would take all tax revenues into one pot and then distribute 78% to education appropriations and 22% to state agency appropriations. This would allow the traditional General Fund revenues to grow at the same rate as that of the current Education Fund revenues.

Somewhat of a surprise is the lower ranking garnered by #12 Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). Senator Orr has been a strong proponent of reducing the size of state government, sponsoring bills that would consolidate state agencies and remove the State of Alabama from the retail liquor business.

Today is Tax Day in the Alabama House of Representatives and there will be numerous other fiscal votes occurring, discussed or proposed over the next week, so the poll will be conducted again this coming weekend to see if there is any shakeup to the Top 20.

The Alabama legislature is composed of 140 members; 35 senators and 105 members of the House of Representatives. Recognizing that probably 120 members will be irritated at not being listed, here are the results:

(#1) Senator Trip Pittman
(#2) Senator Paul Sanford
(#3) Senator Clay Scofield
(#4) Representative Ed Henry
(#5) Representative Phil Williams
(#6) Representative Will Ainsworth
(#7) Senator Bill Holtzclaw
(#8) Senator Rusty Glover
(#9) Representative Mike Holmes
(#10) Representative Arnold Mooney
(#11) Senator Dick Brewbaker
(#12) Senator Arthur Orr
(#13) Senator Bill Hightower
(#14) Senator Phil Williams
(#15) Representative Barry Moore
(#16) Senator Tim Melson
(#17) Representative Mike Jones
(#18) Representative Rich Wingo
(#19) Representative Ken Johnson
(#20) Senator Paul Bussman

Every…Vote… Counts

70 votes out of a total of 35,150 votes. A margin of victory of 0.2%. Wow.

stutts3That’s how close it was in the race for Senate District 6 between incumbent Democrat Senator Roger Bedford and Republican challenger Dr. Larry Stutts. Senate District 6, located in northwest Alabama, is comprised of Franklin,Colbert and parts of Lauderdale, Lawrence and Marion counties.

The initial results after the November 4th General Election showed that Dr. Stutts defeated Senator Bedford by a total of 60 votes after 35,150 votes had been cast. On November 12th, provisional ballots were counted and increased Dr. Stutts’ margin of victory to 67 votes. The State Canvassing Board, which includes the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General met on November 25th and officially certified that Dr. Stutts was the winner. This then triggered the automatic statutory recount for the race as the margin of victory was less than 0.5% of the total amount of votes cast. Yesterday, the recount was held and the preliminary results indicate that Dr. Stutts has increased his margin of victory to 70 votes.

AFA and ForestPAC endorsed and supported Dr. Larry Stutts in this election. It was a lonesome endeavor. Other than the state’s Republican Party and the Alabama General Contractors Association, there were no other statewide groups that gave him material support.

Bedford raised over $1.2 million for his race. Reviewing Senator Bedford’s campaign contribution report is like reading a “who’s who” of Montgomery insider politics. Notable among his contributors were the Alabama Banker’s Association ($10,000), Alabama Power Company ($20,000), Alabama Realtors Association ($22,000), AEA ($120,000), AT&T ($6,000), Auto Dealers ($10,000), Nursing Homes ($22,000), Hospital Association ($3,500), Drummond ($25,000), Alabama Farmer’s Federation ($44,000), Manufacture Alabama ($3,000), BCA ($6,000), Alabama Retailers ($5,500), Roadbuilders ($10,000) and Homebuilders ($10,000).

Contrast this with the $450,000 that Dr. Stutts had at his disposal, which included loans of over $215,000 that he contributed personally, and it is apparent that he had a formidable hill to climb to achieve his victory.

His ultimate win can be attributed to several factors.

First, he was a great candidate and will make a great Senator. As an accomplished physician, he is well known and respected in his community.

Second, he fostered and managed a vibrant grass roots support network. He worked hard to get his message out and tirelessly ran a positive campaign that focused on issues.

Finally, national dynamics were important. Turnout for this election was dramatically influenced by voter dissatisfaction, especially towards our federal leaders.

What did AFA do to help? We targeted our activities in two principal areas. First, we communicated to timberland owners in the district that Dr. Stutts was our choice and that he was our choice because he supported our foundational principles of limited government, protection of private property rights, promotion of free markets and adherence to the rule of law.

Next, we delivered the message that there was no longer a distinction between Alabama Democrats and the national Democratic Party. Alabama Democrats advocate Medicaid expansion and bigger government and oppose fiscal responsibility. This message was well received and signals that even in northwest Alabama, today’s Democratic Party is not the same party that our forefathers in Alabama once supported.

Were we influential to the outcome? YES. 70 votes was the ultimate difference. We touched over 15,000 likely voters with our message. Were we the sole reason for his victory? Of course not. Larry Stutts was the primary reason for victory. Barack Obama and Harry Reid were certainly helpful. But one thing is for sure, without our support, he might not have made it over the final hurdle.

70 votes. Wow!

ForestPAC Endorsement- Senate District 12- Del Marsh

marsh

The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed current Senator and President Pro Tempore of the Alabama State Senate Del Marsh for the General Election in Senate District 12 which encompasses all of Calhoun and parts of Talladega and Clay counties.

Seeking his fifth term, Marsh is facing AEA backed Democrat Taylor Stewart. During his first term as Senate President Pro Tem, Senator Marsh significantly reduced spending by cutting the office’s budget 65 percent. He was able to save taxpayers roughly $100,000 a month in personnel costs by reducing a staff of more than 40 under former leadership down to four.

Perhaps most notably, Senator Marsh spearheaded an effort to streamline various state government functions, including law enforcement and information technology, which will result in a projected savings of $100 million a year in taxpayer resources.

In his former role as Finance Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, Marsh helped Republicans win all statewide offices and gain control of the state House and Senate for the first time in 136 years.

A small businessman, Senator Marsh is the former owner of an Oxford, Alabama-based engineering services and aircraft part repair company that employs roughly 150 people in the Calhoun County area.

He knew at an early age that business was his passion. By the time he went to college at Auburn University, he had started his first business detailing cars for local car dealerships. When he graduated in 1980, he was able to sell the business he built for a profit.

With more than three decades of experience in running a business, he understands the importance of job creation as it relates to the state’s economy and ventured into politics to push for legislation that encourages economic growth and protects small businesses.

Just like families and businesses across Alabama have to do, he believes government should live within its means and not spend more than it takes in. Tough economic times require making tough decisions, but he views the state’s challenging budget shortfalls as an opportunity to make state government more efficient and accountable to taxpayers.

Marsh grew up in Birmingham, the son of a car salesman. While working toward a degree in industrial management, he met his wife, Ginger, an Auburn University Cheerleader who was born and raised in Calhoun County. He and Ginger have two children, Justin, a graduate of both Auburn University and the University of Tennessee, and Christine, a graduate of Auburn University.

ForestPAC Endorsement- Senate District 6- Dr. Larry Stutts

stuttsIn a special called meeting last week, The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, announced that it has endorsed Dr. Larry Stutts for the General Election in Senate District 6 which encompasses Colbert and Franklin counties and parts of Lauderdale, Lawrence and Marion counties.

Dr. Stutts is running against long-time incumbent Senator Roger Bedford (28 years in the Alabama Senate). This is a difficult challenge and to his credit, his hard work has made this a very close race.

To our knowledge, AFA is the only major Alabama association to go against the powerful incumbent and endorse Dr. Stutts.  The decision to endorse Stutts was based on the conclusion that he shares and advocates our core principles of (1) limited government, (2) protection of private property rights, (3) promotion of free markets and (4) adherence to the Rule of Law.

Larry Stutts was born at Colbert County Hospital (now Helen Keller Hospital) in Sheffield, Alabama in May, 1954. Growing up in Cherokee, Alabama, the son of an accountant and a registered nurse, Larry was instilled with the core values of honesty, hard work, belief in God, and respect for others. These core values define him today.  In high school Larry’s interest in government grew as he represented Cherokee Vocational High School at the American Legion’s Boys’State. He was also an avid athlete, playing basketball and running track for Cherokee.

Upon graduation, Larry left Cherokee and moved to Auburn to attend Auburn University. While at Auburn, he was active in numerous campus activities during the school year. In the summer months, he came back to Cherokee to help his family on their farm. His dedication to his studies was rewarded through early acceptance to Veterinary School. While attending veterinary school Larry served in Student Government, was elected Inter-Fraternity Council President and tapped into the Spade Honorary (top 10 men at Auburn). He was graduated from Veterinary School in May of 1979 and moved just across the Alabama state line to work as a veterinarian in Columbus, Georgia. Larry remained close to the Auburn campus to visit his future wife, an Auburn pharmacy student, Jackie, from Donalsonville, Georgia. Upon her graduation from Auburn University in August of 1980, the couple married and moved back to Larry’s hometown of Cherokee.

After opening and running a veterinary practice for three years, Dr. Stutts returned to college where he received a degree in obstetrics and gynecology from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. Larry was elected class representative all four years of medical school and served as President of the Medical Student Body his senior year. In 1992, Larry opened Colbert OB/GYN. Today his practice has served over 18,000 patients. He has delivered more than 10,000 babies and performed over 7,000 gynecologic surgeries.

Dr. Stutts believes “the vision of our founding fathers was for citizen-legislators in public service, not career politicians.” Although he has never before run for office, as a member of the health care profession, he knows that his experience and knowledge will be an asset in the State House. Dr. Stutts stated that he is “ready, willing and able to fight the overreach of the federal government in forcing ObamaCare on our citizens. Local communities and local hospitals are struggling to meet basic needs. The system can be improved with less regulation and more free-enterprise principles.”

While he has never run for political office, Dr. Stutts has always been active in his community. He is president of the Quad-Cities Auburn Club, on the Board of Directors for the Colbert County Red Cross, on the Board of Directors and Membership Chairman of the Tuscumbia Kiwanis Club, President of the Colbert County Cattlemen’s Association, on the Board of Directors and former Chairman of Covenant Christian School, on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Alabama Healthcare Authority and an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Tuscumbia.

In addition to being a medical doctor, Dr. Stutts still owns and operates the farm that has been in his family for three generations. Larry and Jackie have four children: Elizabeth, Rebecca, Sarah and Collins.

ForestPAC Endorsement- Alabama Lieutenant Governor- Kay Ivey

ivey1The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey for the General Election.

We are all familiar with Kay’s accomplishments in public service.

She was elected to the office of Lieutenant Governor in the 2010, beating well known former Governor Democrat Jim Folsom in a close election. In doing so, she became the second woman and the first Republican woman in Alabama history, to be elected to the post of Lieutenant Governor.

Her public service also includes being appointed by three governors to various positions in state government, including Assistant Director of the Department of Commerce, formerly known as the Alabama Development Office.

In 2002, Kay became the first Republican elected State Treasurer since Reconstruction and was re-elected in 2006. As Treasurer, Kay Ivey proved her commitment to taxpayers by making the office more open, transparent, and efficient.

Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey is committed to job creation and preparing students for the 21st century workforce. This commitment has resulted in her service as Chairman of the Job Creation and Military Stability Commission, Vice Chairman of the Aerospace States Association and acting as an advocate for the Real World Design Challenge, in Alabama.

A Camden, Alabama, native and a 1967 graduate of Auburn University, she is a member of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, the Montgomery Rotary Club, the Board of Directors of the Montgomery YMCA, and the Tukabatchee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Lt. Governor Kay Ivey is also honored to be the first Alabama Girls State alumnus elected to an Alabama Constitutional Office.

She has worked as a high school teacher and a bank officer, Reading Clerk for the Alabama House of Representatives and as Assistant Director of the Alabama Development Office. She was Director of Government Affairs and Communications for the Alabama Commission on Higher Education from 1985 until 1998.

What you might not know about Kay, though, is her commitment to rural education and the timber industry. She serves as the spokeswoman for the Alabama Forestry Association’s Black Belt Initiative and has been honored by the Association with its prestigious Distinguished Member award (given only three times in the Association’s 65 year history).

She also leads Governor Bentley’s commission focused on streamlining state government and serves on the advisory committee that decides eligible road and bridge projects for the $1 billion Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).

Through her leadership, as presiding officer of the Senate, the Alabama Legislature has identified and enacted measures that will result in over $1 billion in annual savings for the state, passed four consecutive budgets that were not prorated and accomplished all this with an office staff budget that is 32% less than her predecessor’s.

Please go to the polls next Tuesday and make sure capable leaders like Kay Ivey return to office.

Survey Indicates Attorney General Strange Looks Good Despite $1.8 Million Attack by Gambling Interests

gambling

It appears that the gambling interests in the state have put all their chips on black….and got red.

A recent survey conducted on October 27-28th by OnMessage Inc. produced some good news today for the Luther Strange camp.  Based on 600 likely voters, Strange enjoys a sizable 20 point lead over his opponent, Democrat Joe Hubbard.

Incredibly, after spending nearly $2 million provided by the gambling industry, Hubbard has not been able to either bring down Luther’s favorable rating nor improve his own. Not sure how this is possible, but 31% of those surveyed had no opinion of Hubbard and 21% had not even heard of him.

See complete memo on survey results here.

Wow…what a waste of money.  But we could have told him that from the beginning.

Hubbard has raised $2.18 million for his campaign.  $1.83 million came from gaming interests, $50,000 from AEA and over $50,000 from unions.  Another $85,000 came from his House campaign fund and loans.

Regardless of this positive news, we still need to get the word out to get folks to show up and vote on next Tuesday.

No other public official has done more to assist timberland owners in Alabama than Luther Strange.  He deserves our support and we need him as Attorney General for another four years.

Please forward this post to everyone on your email list.  Let’s see what we can do to impact turnout!  Elections have consequences!

AFA to Host Election Eve Reception

afaThe Alabama Forestry Association will open its doors for an Election Eve Reception on Tuesday, November 4th at 6:00 pm.  The reception is open to all AFA members and their guests.

Our special guest, John McMillan, will host his friends and supporters at the reception as we watch the election returns come in and get an early look at the makeup of the next four years of Alabama’s governing officials.

Come join us for what, hopefully, will be an enjoyable evening.  We will have good food, cocktails and pleasant company.

Please RSVP to Liz at lchambers@alaforestry.org so that we can get a good headcount.

 

 

ForestPAC Endorsement- Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries- John McMillan

mcmillanThe Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed incumbent Commissioner John McMillan for the General Election.

On November 2, 2010, McMillan defeated Democrat Glen Zorn for the post of Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries. McMillan received 862,901 votes to Zorn’s 583,255. This time around, he ran unopposed in the Republican primary and faces Democrat Doug Smith in the General Election.

McMillan served as a Baldwin County Commissioner and as an Alabama state representative (elected in 1974 and 1978) representing Baldwin and Mobile counties. While in the Alabama state legislature McMillan chaired the Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Committee and was selected twice as the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s “Conservation Legislator of the Year.”

McMillan served as the Alabama State Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources in the first administration of Gov. Fob James (1980–1983). As Commissioner, McMillan won widespread praise for his part in the creation of the Alabama Trust Fund (originally called the Alabama Heritage Trust Fund), a plan to save the receipts from leases of offshore oil operations. Additionally, McMillan spearheaded the rebuilding of Gulf State Park after the widespread destruction of Hurricane Fredrick.

McMillan is the former executive vice president (1985–2006) of the Alabama Forestry Association where he was a leader in the successful fight to defeat the Amendment One Tax Increase of 2003 and became known as an advocate for the rights of property owners and a consistent opponent of property tax increases.

McMillan was named to the Alabama State Personnel Board by Governor James during the 1990s and reappointed to a second term by Governor Bob Riley. On the State Personnel Board McMillan has played a leading role in investigating alleged “kickbacks” to state employee union bosses.

John McMillan is a native of rural Stockton, Alabama, where he worked as a boy (and as a young man after returning from college) on his uncle’s farm and in his father’s sawmill. McMillan is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis.

McMillan and his wife Kathryn have two grown sons, Murphy and William, and two grandchildren. McMillan is an avid outdoorsman who won the Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt in 2006. He is known as a dedicated hunter of deer and wild turkey, and other Alabama game, and also enjoys fishing with his family.

ForestPAC Endorsement- House District 47- Jack Williams

williamsjThe Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed incumbent member of the House of Representatives Jack Williams for the General Election in House District 47 which is located in primarily in the Birmingham areas of Vestavia Hills and Hoover.

Williams defeated David Wheeler in the Republican primary and now faces Democrat challenger Salvatore Bambinelli in the General Election on November 4th.

Representative Williams was first elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2004 in a special election. Prior to that he served as the Jefferson County Tax Collector from 1995-2003.

Jack currently serves as the Chairman of the powerful House Commerce and Small Business committee. He is the former Chairman of the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans and former President of the National Conference of Republican County Officials.

In 2012, Williams sponsored and passed legislation that protected property owners from civil liability when defending themselves and their property from the criminal conduct of others (expanded Alabama’s “Castle Doctrine”).

Last year, Representative Williams was one of the few urban legislators that supported the AFA’s attempt to preclude discrimination against Alabama timber used in the construction of public buildings. Additionally, on the last possible legislative day for passage, his committee defeated legislation that would have extended limited home rule to counties.

He is definitely a supporter of Alabama’s timberland owners.

Earlier this year, Jack received the Legislator of the Year Award from the American Legislative Exchange Council, the country’s largest nonpartisan voluntary membership organization of state legislators. Each year a state legislator is recognized for their leadership and work within the organization to promote the Jeffersonian principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.

Williams lives in Vestavia Hills where he has raised his two sons. He received a B.A. from Southeastern Bible College.

ForestPAC Endorsement- House District 2- Lynn Greer

greerThe Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed incumbent member of the House of Representatives Lynn Greer for the General Election in House District 2 which is located in parts of Lauderdale and Limestone counties.

Greer is a veteran lawmaker having previously served in the House of Representatives from 1974-1981 and from 2002-2006. He was elected in 2010 as part of the “freshman class” that led to the change of leadership in the legislature. He also served as a member of the Alabama Public Service Commission form 1981-1990.

He defeated incumbent Democrat Mike Curtis in the 2010 election. Curtis is now seeking election to the Alabama Senate running against AFA endorsed candidate Tim Melson.

This time around, Greer is facing AEA supported Andy Betterton in the General Election on November 4th.

During this last legislative quadrennium, Greer served as Chairman of the Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee, Vice Chair of the Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee and also served on the important Rules and Ways & Means General Fund Committees. Even though he was considered a “freshman,” he clearly gained a prominent position of leadership.

Representative Greer earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University and has worked as an electrical engineer for NASA Space Programs, an owner/manager of a marine dealership and as a general contractor/developer. Lynn and his wife, Becky, have four children and ten grandchildren and they currently live in Rogersville.