May 15, 2013
By Bob Sloan
Below are stories, articles and material related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their corporate members, funders and supporters – that include the notorious Koch brothers, Charles and David. Initiatives of ALEC and pursued by the Koch brothers and other conservatives are provided in one place for readers to review and study.
Click on headline to visit the sites and read the full article(s)…
“In an effort spearheaded by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and bankrolled by the Koch brothers and other corporate sponsors, state legislatures in most major agricultural states are being beset this year with so-called “ag-gag” bills — repressive and misguided legislation that proposes to make it a crime to photograph or videotape operations at factory farms where animals are being raised.
“The problem with such legislation,” says Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ food and environment program, “is that industries that should be cleaning up their practices are instead digging in their heels to try to shield their actions even further from the public eye.” As Gurian-Sherman explains, both science and democracy demand transparency. “In a democracy, and in the marketplace, information is critical and the public has a real right to know about the food they buy,” he says. “These laws move in the wrong direction from the standpoint of public health and safety.”
UNITES STATES: Anti-renewables legislation being proposed in many states is hampering the growth of wind energy across the US, according to researchers and wind industry officials.
“Political attacks on renewables range from attempts to place moratoriums on new wind development in states such as New Hampshire and Vermont, to efforts to repeal or significantly roll back targets in North Carolina, Kansas and Ohio. Other states, including Connecticut, are looking at watering down their mandates by allowing electricity from large-scale hydro to be used to meet the requirements.
“This year, we saw bills introduced across the country that would have wiped out nearly 50% of the demand created through state policies,” a Vestas spokesman told Windpower Monthly.
“In all, according to a database compiled by the law firm Keyes, Fox & Wiedman, there have been at least 35 bills to weaken renewable portfolio standards (RPS) proposed in 16 of the 29 states that have them on the books.
“Activity to undermine the standards has been increasing, said Jeff Deyette, assistant energy research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists.”
These legislative state bills originate within ALEC, written with the help of oil and gas corporate members. Once “adopted” by the full membership they are then distributed to each state as proposed and “necessary” laws by ALEC’s legislative members. Corporate interests then contribute to campaigns of those lawmakers agreeing to support the legislation.
RALEIGH Nearly 200 protesters crowded inside the Legislative Building early Monday evening, singing, chanting and echoing many of the same concerns that demonstrators have for the past three Mondays.
As members of the state House of Representatives tended to business, North Carolinians dissatisfied with tax plans, education policies, health care proposals, welfare cuts, environmental deregulation and new voting policies grew louder and louder.
Forty-nine women and men were arrested, zip-ties binding their hands as they were walked onto a bus which took them to the Wake County Detention Center on Hammond Road for processing.
The week before, 30 people were arrested, and the week before that there were 17 arrests.
The protesters contend the new-to-power legislators are dismantling decades of progress in public education, race relations, environmental protections and more. They are critical of proposed tax reforms that they argue would offer big breaks for state residents who make the most while pulling more from those at the middle and lower-income rungs.
“In North Carolina, Gov. McCrory and his merry men, Tillis and Berger, are engaging in Robin Hood in reverse,” Barber told about 150 people gathered before the protest at Davie Street Presbyterian Church, about a mile from the Legislative Building.
Barber said at an organizing session that he thought the legislators should be more transparent. He argued that North Carolina’s Republican leaders entertain advice from American Legislative Exchange Council, a largely private conservative group backed by major corporations that proposes model legislation for like-minded lawmakers, but has little time for the NAACP and their critics.
“You should not be arresting us,” Barber said. “You should thank us for having the courage to tell it like it is.”
“What could be wrong with South Dakota taxpayers footing the bill for legislators’ membership and travel to ALEC meetings?
“Especially when you consider that in December 2011, ALEC adopted model legislation, based on a Texas law, addressing the public disclosure of chemicals in drilling fluids used to extract natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The ALEC legislation, which has since provided the basis for similar bills submitted in five states, has been promoted as a victory for consumers’ right to know about potential drinking water contaminants.
“So, hooray for us taxpayers. Right?
“A close reading of the bill, however, reveals loopholes that would allow energy companies to withhold the names of certain fluid contents, for reasons including that they have been deemed trade secrets. Most telling, perhaps, the bill was sponsored within ALEC by ExxonMobil, one of the largest practitioners of fracking — something not explained when ALEC lawmakers introduced their bills back home.
“Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D.: Sometimes the value of something is nowhere worth what it costs.
“We think that is the case of the recent debate over whether the state should pick up the tab for memberships and travel for all legislators to go to the American Legislative Exchange Council conferences.
“No matter where you are politically, it’s clear that the state shouldn’t buy memberships for everyone to belong to ALEC. It’s ridiculous that state taxpayers would pay those fees.
“It’s fine for lawmakers to pay their own membership and travel to any professional conference they choose, no matter who sponsors it. This group’s membership and conferences just are not something for which the taxpayer should be billed.”
“In a recent guest column, Rep. Franke Wilmer, an MSU professor, said, “Keep education system public, not privatized,” and said the Legislative session had many bills that bore a striking similarity to model bills from the legislative agenda of the corporate bill-mill American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Whether a particular bill is an ALEC bill, or written by a former ALEC member like the National Association of Charter Schools, a bad idea driven mainly by out-of-state interests is still a bad idea. Representative Wilmer mentions the American Legislative Exchange Council as if it were a bad organization. Google “ALEC” and you will find that it is a “Partnership of America’s state legislators and members of the private sector that works to advance free-market enterprise and limited government.” She says that it is driven mainly by out-of-state interests which gives a totally false impression that we Montanans are not concerned about improving education.
A response in needed! I too served the people of Montana. As a state senator I was on the Senate Education Committee, and am also the only first-year legislator ever appointed to the Legislative Council (now Legislative Services). As a member of the Council I was chairman of the committee on school construction. My committee and I visited, questioned, and listened to numerous school administrators, board members, and faculty around Montana…Two personal examples vividly show the difference between public and private education. New York state required public school students to pass a regents exam for each subject at the end of the year before moving on to the next year in that subject. At the private school regents exams were utilized at times, such as when I took Spanish I. We were required to take, and pass, a Spanish II regents exam at the end of our first semester. Yes, in one semester we accomplished what the public schools were accomplishing in two years. Next example. At Purdue I took a biology class. I literally did not have to study. We had covered the material thoroughly in high school.”
“Just a few years ago, pension reform appeared inevitable. The drop in asset prices during the financial crisis had left public pension funds trillions of dollars behind on meeting future obligations. The defined benefit model was under fire as unduly expensive.
“Utah in early 2010 passed a law to put new workers into 401(k)-style accounts. Later that year the American Legislative Exchange Council adopted model legislation (which I coauthored) that did the same thing. We thought this would take off around the country and save state and local governments from accumulating more pension debt.
Related article or content:
“For the past year or so, as the public pension crisis has been exposed across the country, unions have cited the law as the reason that states cannot restrain their retirement system costs. Pension deals between government and workers are ironclad, their legal theory went, and compensation can’t be trimmed even for workers’ future years of service. So when three states, Colorado, Minnesota and South Dakota, cut the cost-of-living allowances (COLA) in their pension formula last year, their reform efforts were expected to be scuttled by the courts in favor of the union plaintiffs.
“Cutting the COLA is one of the reforms needed (along with rolling back excessive pension accruals, eliminating the practice of “spiking,” and raising the retirement age) to stave off pension insolvency. Along those lines, the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization of nearly 2,000 conservative state legislators, earlier this year adopted model legislation drafted by the American Principles Project that caps pension payouts at the private sector median. By green-lighting the COLA adjustments, the two court rulings signal to lawmakers that they may proceed to do what’s needed to make their retirement systems sustainable.