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.

ForestPAC Endorsement- House District 81- Mark Tuggle

tuggleThe Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed incumbent member of the House of Representatives Mark Tuggle for the General Election in House District 81 which is located in parts of Chilton, Coosa and Tallapoosa counties.

Mark was first elected to office in 2010 by winning the Republican primary against Shane Grimes and then beating long-time Democrat incumbent Betty Carol Graham in the General Election. This time around, he was unopposed in the primary, but now faces Dylan Oliver in November. Oliver is heavily supported by the powerful AEA and has mounted a vicious attack campaign.

Tuggle earned his A.S. from Alexander City State Junior College in 1986, his B.S. in Forest Management from Auburn University in 1988 and his M.S. in Management from Faulkner University in 2007.

Mark is the only practicing registered forester currently in the Alabama Legislature. Need we say more?

He currently serves on the Ways and Means Education Appropriations Committee (subcommittee on K-12 Appropriations), the State Government Committee and the Technology and Research Committee.

Mark was instrumental in assisting AFA pass bills on logging notification, limiting liability for landowners that lease their land for hunting and fishing and developing the ATRIP program to fund rural road and bridge infrastructure. He also was quite helpful in working on legislation to preclude discrimination of Alabama timber in public buildings.

When there is a timber related issue in the Legislature, Mark Tuggle is the legislator that AFA can count on to be there ready to assist. Mark also serves on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association

ForestPAC Endorsement- House District 8- Terri Collins

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The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed incumbent member of the House of Representatives Terri Collins for the General Election in House District 8 which is located in the Decatur area of Morgan County.

Representative Collins was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 as part of the Republican wave that brought about new leadership in the legislature for the first time in 136 years.

Terri defeated Democrat Drama Breland in 2010 and faces AEA backed Democrat candidate Rex Cheatham in November. Because of the influx of AEA financial support, Collins is involved in one of the most hotly contested races in the state.

In the Alabama Legislature, Mrs.Collins served as a member of the Ways & Means Education Appropriations Committee, the Committee on Technology and Research and the Committee on Economic Development and Tourism.

She and her husband, Tom Collins, moved to Decatur in 1982 where she has raised her family of three children and serves on the Board of Directors for the Volunteer Center of Morgan County, Promise Homes of North Alabama, Friends of Alabama Archives and Workforce Investment Board.

Representative Collins is a 1980 graduate of the University of Alabama with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. She currently serves as a youth counselor and was formerly the Vice President of Marketing and Sales for First American Bank in Decatur.

According to the Florence Times Daily, in a September 2012 article There’s Something about Terri Collins, she is using her sales skills in the legislature… “I love team building and getting people on board with an idea,” said Collins, R-Decatur. “That part of (being a lawmaker) I’ve really enjoyed. My personality is very much one of encouragement. And in the Legislature, that is what you are trying to do — encourage people to see things your way.”

Collins has lent her name to more than just Republican bills. Last session she co-sponsored Mobile Democrat James Buskey’s bill allowing large municipalities to create “entertainment districts” in which alcohol could be served outdoors and carried in the street.

“Not only was she a co-sponsor, she was one of the main reasons it got passed into law,” Buskey said. Buskey had sponsored the bill two years previously, but it hadn’t gotten much traction. Then, he said, Collins expressed interest in it and what it could do for downtown Decatur, suggesting changes to make it appeal to other lawmakers.

“That’s when the ball got rolling, and we got more people onboard and convinced people it could be a good thing,” Buskey said. Collins said she supported the bill because she sees it as an economic development tool for Decatur, and it was something the city wanted. “A bill doesn’t just become law by introducing it,” Buskey said. “You have to work it, and she is willing to work it.”

In 2014, Collins proved her commitment to encouraging small businesses by successfully sponsoring a bill to provide an opportunity for a new fund raising mechanism to streamline capital formation for small businesses in Alabama. With the law’s passage, the new intrastate crowdfunding exemption would allow Alabama entrepreneurs to raise up to $1,000,000 from Alabama investors in a streamlined and cost effective process.

Small businesses and startup ventures are now able to advertise and raise capital from Alabama ‘main street’ investors and may raise such capital with or without a broker. The Director of the Alabama Securities Commission, Joseph Borg said of the bill, “This crowdfunding mechanism will provide a significant opportunity for Alabama entrepreneurs who wish to raise capital to start small businesses, as more traditional financing in the current economic climate have been limited. Senate Bill 44 will allow small businesses to pursue an economical way to raise funds through localized securities offerings. While investment in startup businesses has risk, the potential rewards in promoting new businesses and job formation in our local communities are invaluable.”

ForestPAC Endorsement- House District 16- Kyle South

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The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed Kyle South for the General Election in House District 16 which encompasses all of Fayette County and parts of Lamar, Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties.

Kyle won the Republican primary over former House of Representatives and Jefferson County Commission member Bobby Humphryes with 63% of the vote. In November’s General Election he faces incumbent Democrat Daniel Boman. Boman, in a rare move, was elected in 2010 as a Republican and then switched to the Democrat Party. Because of Boman’s incumbency and heavy support from the AEA, South faces a difficult challenge and needs the support of timberland owners in his district.

Kyle is the general manager of West Alabama TV Cable Company which was founded by his late grandfather, Stephen Vaughan in 1965. “As a small businessman, I understand what it takes for businesses to grow, prosper and succeed in today’s economic climate, and I’m committed to helping create jobs and opportunity for the citizens of House District 16. I also want to help provide the quality public education and the workforce development tools that our children and grandchildren will need in order to fill the good-paying, long-lasting 21st Century jobs that I plan to help recruit.”

The 32 year old South lives in Fayette and is a graduate of Fayette County High School. He attended Bevill State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama in 2004. He serves as president of the Alabama Telecommunications Association and has held a seat on the group’s board of directors since 2008.

He is a lifelong member of the Fayette First United Methodist Church and is a member of the Fayette Area Chamber of Commerce, the Fayette Exchange Club, Leadership Fayette County, the National Rifle Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

ForestPAC Endorsement- Senate District 27- Tom Whatley

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The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed current Senator Tom Whatley for the General Election in Senate District 27 which encompasses parts of Lee, Russell and Tallapoosa counties.

Elected as part of the new Republican Senate majority in 2010, Whatley defeated long-time incumbent Democrat Ted Little in a hotly contested general election race. This time around, he faced Andy Carter in the Republican primary and, despite Carter’s large support by AEA, won with 53% of the vote. He now faces Democrat Haylee Moss in the November election.

Senator Whatley was born and raised on the family dairy farm in Lee County and graduated from Beauregard High School in 1988. In 1994 he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Auburn University and went on to receive his Juris Doctorate from the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. He was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in 1999.

Before enrolling at Auburn, Senator Whatley enlisted in the Alabama Army National Guard in 1988 and has served 25 years. In 1992 he received his Commission from Auburn University ROTC and currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel. His last overseas assignment was as the Bilateral Affairs Officer, Defense Attaché Office, United States Embassy, Bucharest Romania where he served as a diplomatic liaison between the US Embassy and the Romanian Ministry of Defense. Tom presently serves as Battalion Commander of the 167th Special Troops Battalion. Senator Whatley has received the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Metal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Senator Whatley is Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation Committee and Chairman of the Lee County Legislative Delegation and is Co-Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He also serves on the Senate Education Finance and Taxation Committee as well as the Senate Health, Judiciary, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Confirmations Committees. Senator Whatley was also elected by his peers to serve on the Joint House and Senate Legislative Council and was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor to the Indian Affairs Committee.

As powerful chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Forestry committee, Senator Whatley has been instrumental in supporting issues of importance to the timber industry. AFA’s efforts to fund rural bridges by re-directing diesel taxes, preclude discrimination of Alabama timber from public buildings, reduce liability for timberland owners that lease their property for hunting and fishing and stem the overreach of counties requiring permits and bonds to use road and bridge infrastructure all received favorable reports from his committee.

Senator Whatley understands the importance that timber brings to the state’s economy and is supportive of creating an environment to have success for landowners, loggers and manufacturers. Of all the members in the Senate that supports the timber industry, Senator Whatley leads the pack.

If you live and vote in Senate District 27, please turn out to support Senator Whatley. He has an active volunteer network and would appreciate any support that you might be able to provide on November 4th.

ForestPAC Endorsement- Senate District 21- Gerald Allen

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The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed current Senator Gerald Allen for the General Election in Senate District 21 which encompasses all of Lamar and parts of Pickens and Tuscaloosa counties.

Elected as Senator in 2010, Allen is currently serving his first term in the Alabama State Senate. Prior to this, he served as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives from 1994- 2010. In 2010, he narrowly defeated incumbent Democrat Phil Poole. Poole is his opponent once again in November. The 2010 race was very close with Allen prevailing with a little over 1,000 votes. This is expected to be a tight race once again.

We need to support Senator Allen with volunteerism, financial support and most importantly we need to show up and vote.

He has been a strong proponent of the timber industry working diligently to pass legislation that limited liability for landowners that lease their land for hunting and fishing.

As a member of the Senate, he has distinguished himself as a fiscal conservative by supporting efforts that have down sized government by over $1 billion and has sponsored bills to fulfill the state’s commitment to the Mercedes Benz project and tightening restrictions on sports agents operating in the state to protect our student athletes. Senator Allen has also opposed increased taxes in Tuscaloosa County.

In the Senate, Allen is Chairman of the powerful Commerce, Transportation and Utilities Committee.

Gerald was born in Tuscaloosa in 1950. He graduated from Holt High School in 1969. Four years later, he earned a degree from the University of Alabama. He has been married to Sheila Bailey Allen of Taylorville, Alabama for 41 years. They have three adult children – Wes, Kellie, and Jill. They have also been blessed with five grandchildren.

ForestPAC Endorsement- Senate District 7- Paul Sanford

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The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed current Senator Paul Sanford for the General Election in Senate District 7, located in Huntsville and Madison County.

Sanford was first elected to the Senate in June 2009 in a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Senator and current Democrat candidate for Governor, Parker Griffith.

In November, Sanford will face democratic challenger Bryan Bennett. Bennett is a retired Air Force colonel and high school teacher. Bennett is a self-described “enthusiastic supporter of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion.”

Senator Sanford was educated at the Culinary Institute of America and owns and operates a well-known barbeque restaurant, Little Paul’s, in Huntsville.

Paul received a great deal of publicity for his sponsorship of “Carly’s Law” which allows a non-psychoactive oil derived from marijuana to be used as a treatment for childhood seizure disorders. Asked how difficult it was to pass this bill he acknowledged it was a tough sell, but “Over time – after individually going and talking to legislators, doing a tremendous amount of research, vetting the bill out in committee and offering up statistical data in support of why this was a good thing and how it could benefit the families – slowly legislators came along. I think it was one of the few bills that received a unanimous vote in both the House and the Senate. To have started off being the most controversial bill and then to get the overwhelming support that we had was a pretty good accomplishment. That’s probably the thing that I’m most proud of to be associated with at this point of my tenure of being a senator.”

A priority for his return to the Senate will be his continued efforts to establish health savings accounts at the state level. “It would offer up a tax credit on the contributions that you put into a Health Savings Account. Alabama is one of only three states that does not allow for the tax credit. It’s already done at the federal level. It’s not a huge amount; it would cost the state around a $1 million fiscal note. But to small business owners that are struggling with the increases of health care because of what’s happened at the federal level, I feel it’s really important that we do what we can at the state level.”

Known as a strong fiscal conservative, Senator Sanford sponsored the AFA’s bill proposing a Constitutional Amendment requiring all one time non-recurring income to the state be placed within the Alabama Trust Fund in order to protect it for future generations. He was one of the few members that opposed the raid on the Trust Fund to prop up the general fund agency appropriations and was a strong voice supporting passage of the statute that requires repayment of the debt.

Senator Sanford is also known for his commitment to ethics and integrity. In 2010, he reported that he had been approached by lobbyists supporting a bill to legalize casino gambling and was offered $250,000 for his vote. His participation in the investigation led to the arrest and conviction of three lobbyists. This matter led to significant reform of Alabama’s ethics laws when, after the 2010 elections, the new Republican leadership convened a special session of the legislature to focus on the issue.

ForestPAC Endorsement- Senate District 4- Paul Bussman

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The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed current Senator Paul Bussman for the General Election in Senate District 4 located in Cullman County, southern Lawrence County, eastern Marion County and northern Winston County.

Paul was first elected to the Alabama Senate in 2010 when he defeated incumbent Democrat Zeb Little. This time around, Senator Bussman, having already defeated Bruce Whitlock in a heated Republican primary, faces Democrat Angelo “Doc” Mancuso. Both of Senator Bussman’s opponents have been heavily supported by the Alabama Education Association.

In his first term, Senator Bussman has distinguished himself as a fiscal conservative and a supporter of limited government. He helped pass legislation that created the Office of Secretary of Information Technology to coordinate the consolidation of all IT efforts in state government.

With respect to forestry matters, Senator Bussman sponsored the Alabama Forestry Association’s bill that would have redirected existing diesel fuel taxes for the purpose of repairing and replacing rural bridges. As a result of that proposed legislation, Senator Bussman, in concert with Governor Bentley, passed the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program that created a bond issue for over $1 billion in funding for Alabama’s roads and bridges. The program required a 20% match by counties to receive funding. Senator Bussman later passed legislation that modified the ATRIP program to allow financially strapped counties to receive this “match” requirement, but limited the amount of ATRIP funding they could receive to $5 million. This funding had to be used on bridge replacement.

Paul was born in New Orleans, LA, and at the age of 10, Paul moved to Cullman permanently with his mother, three brothers and one sister. Paul attended school at both St. Paul’s Lutheran School and Cullman public schools, graduating from Cullman High School in 1975.

Paul was a leader in student government and an accomplished basketball player. He was recognized and offered a leadership and basketball scholarship to attend Troy State University, where he was a 4-year letterman and received his Bachelor of Science degree. Paul then attended the University of Alabama, School of Dentistry where he received his Doctoral of Dental Medicine. He has been a general dentist in Cullman since 1983.

Paul has become a national leader in the field of dentistry. He’s very active in professional organizations such as the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry and state and local chapters of these dental organizations. He has held many offices including five national appointments in the Academy of General Dentistry and is a past president and executive director of the Alabama Academy of General Dentistry.

Not only does Paul’s dental office keep him busy, he is also a local entrepreneur and developer of FUNZONE, Cullman’s only family entertainment center including miniature golf, go-karts, batting cages, an inflatable gymnasium and an electric train.

Paul has devoted countless volunteer hours to committees and organizations that have improved the quality of life for many Cullman residents. He was an organizer of the Good Samaritan Health Clinic- a free medical, optical and dental clinic for uninsured, working individuals in Cullman County. After 10 years of service, he still continues to be a free dental provider to clients of the clinic.

Paul was the first president and organizer for the “Volunteers in Public Schools” program, a mentoring program for at-risk elementary children throughout Cullman County. He was also a past Board member and volunteer of Habitat for Humanity and the Alabama Judicial Systems’ Juvenile Conference Committee. He is a past chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, the Cullman Regional Medical Center Foundation, Cullman Kiwanis Club and the Leadership Cullman County Class of 2000.

He currently serves as a Board member for Cullman Savings Bank and the Cullman Savings Bank Foundation. He is also past chairman of both.

Paul and his wife, Holly, have been married for more than 16 years. Their children, Noah, 12, and Kendall, 6, live at home in Cullman. Phillip lives in Decatur and Melissa and her husband live in Birmingham. The Bussman family attends Grace Episcopal Church in Cullman.

ForestPAC Endorsement- House of Representatives District 27- Will Ainsworth

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The Board of Directors of the Alabama Forestry Association’s political action committee, ForestPAC, has endorsed Will Ainsworth for the General Election in House of Representatives District 27 which is located in primarily in Marshall County and a small part of Blount County.

Born and raised in Boaz, he is a graduate of Westbrook Christian School (1999) and received a B.S. in Marketing from Auburn University (2004). He and his wife (Kendall) have three children, twin boys Hunter and Hays (4) and daughter Addie (2).

Will is best known as the owner of Dream Ranch, a beautiful hunting and fishing preserve located on Lake Guntersville. He also is a partner in the Tennessee Valley Hunting and Fishing Expo since 2011. Held annually in July at the Huntsville Civic Center, the Expo is a weekend entertainment experience that attracts over 30,000 outdoor hunting and fishing enthusiasts as well as outdoor retailers and organizations.

This is the first political race for Ainsworth. He faces former House member, Democrat Jeff McLaughlin in a highly contested race. McLaughlin represented the area from 2001-2010 before being beaten by current Representative Wes Long. Long is not seeking reelection. McLaughlin is probably best known for his close ties with his former Harvard law school classmate, Barak Obama.

Economic development for the Tennessee Valley region of Northeast Alabama is the number one priority for Ainsworth. His business career is centered on job creation and marketing the area. “I have often said that my top three priorities as a state representative would be jobs, jobs, and jobs. Attracting jobs to our area, however, requires that we provide our children with a well-rounded, quality public education so they are prepared to fill the well-paying, long-lasting, 21st Century jobs that I plan to attract.”

Prior to building Dream Ranch, Will served as youth pastor at Grace Fellowship Church. “As a former youth pastor, I possess the values and morals that most who live in our area share, and I plan to bring those deeply held beliefs to Montgomery with me. As a father, I want my children to succeed in life, which brings a commitment to improve public education and create jobs in the Lake Guntersville area.”

“I’m running for the Alabama House because I feel it is important to give back to a community that has given so much to my family and me. I am also running because I believe our country’s moral values are eroding and we need strong Christian leaders to fight back against liberal policies. Government regulations are destroying small business and we need to stop these horrible regulations and government mandates.”

“It’s no secret that our area has suffered economically over the past several years. If we are going to turn that trend around, we must elect a state representative who has a deep commitment to creating jobs and economic opportunity, and that’s exactly why I am seeking this job. I am also passionate about improving public education by providing our children with needed classroom tools and by ensuring teachers are fairly compensated for the work they do. And as a Republican, I believe in the conservative values that citizens in our area want to see instilled in their state government.”