Strange addresses civic clubs

Published 10:27 am Friday, February 10, 2012

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange met with the Luverne Rotary and Kiwanis clubs for a joint meeting on Monday.

Strange informed the group about a number of issues his office is currently facing, including drugs and copper theft.

“Being the father of two sons, I’m worried about the influence of drugs on our youth,” he said.

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As part of the effort to crack down on illegal substances, Strange said his office has banned “spice,” or synthetic marijuana, and other synthetic drugs that are often sold over the counter at places like gas stations.

“There were a rash of deaths, so we’ve worked to take those off the shelf,” he said.

The issue of copper thefts is one that Strange said tends to affect rural counties and that the money from selling stolen copper is often used to buy drugs.

“Copper theft has become a big deal,” he said. “We’re going to try to find a way to deal with that issue in the next legislative session.”

While those two issues are on the forefront of the agenda, Strange also said there are several issues that he gets asked about on a regular basis, including the BP oil spill, gambling and immigration.

With the two-year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico approaching, Strange said the case is set to come to court in New Orleans on Feb. 27.

“The oil spill has affected all of us, including those along Highway 331 because of the drop in traffic,” he said. “This is a huge issue for the state. We’ve got a $400 million deficit in the upcoming budget, and hopefully some of the money from the case will help the state in some way.”

During former Governor Bob Riley’s administration, the issue of illegal gambling was a hot topic, with the state conducting raids on establishments such as Country Crossing in Dothan and Victoryland in Shorter.

Strange said that he has a good working relationship with current Governor Robert Bentley, and that he told those with gambling interests what was and wasn’t legal.

“We want to take the groups to court and let the courts decide,” said Strange, who added that he is in favor of everyone having their day in court.

He also said that his office is not involved in the second round of bingo/public corruption trials because they had been recused.

As the state’s top law enforcement official, Strange said that enforcing the law is his top priority, even on the issue of immigration.

“My suggestion was E-Verify, and that seems to work well,” said Strange, who also said that the legislature decided to include stricter rules that are similar to Arizona’s immigration act.

He said that Alabama’s immigration act has also attracted a number of lawsuits.

“We’ve been sued by… actually, I’ve lost count of who has sued us,” Strange joked.

One difference between Alabama and Arizona is that courts have upheld most of Alabama’s immigration law.

“We’ve had over half our law upheld,” Strange said. “We expect a Supreme Court ruling in June that will help guide our laws.”

Finally, Strange said he has always been an advocate for economic development, including having worked to bring Hyundai to Alabama as a private lawyer.

“We want people to know that Alabama is open for business,” he said.