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05/05 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

05/05 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

By Bob Sloan

Below are today’s articles and materials related to ALEC and the Koch funded conservative cabal.  Included ALEC published material – if available.

Click on a link to view the complete article.

Scientific American: North Carolina legislators make end-run on science and renewable energy

From “The Raw Story”

North Carolina Republicans push through anti-renewable energy bill in ‘banana republic’ vote:

“Democrats in North Carolina say they could have defeated a bill to repeal renewable energy subsidies on Wednesday if Republicans had not pushed it through committee without counting the votes.

The state Senate Finance Committee debated the bill to end the state’s 6-year-old renewable energy program for over 40 minutes before Republican chairman Bill Rabon called for a motion. … “North Carolina is not a banana republic,” Sen. Josh Stein (D) complained following the hearing. “That was no way to run a proceeding.”

Environmental advocates have suggested that Republicans based the bill on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Republican state Rep. Mike Hager, who authored the bill, is an ALEC member.

Moffitt skips House session to attend conservative conference

ASHEVILLE — Rep. Tim Moffitt skipped a session of the state House, along with Republican Speaker Thom Tillis, to attend a conference of a controversial pro-business group in Oklahoma.

Moffitt, R-Asheville, was recently appointed to the board of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that supports limited government and free markets. Tillis is also a board member.

Ag-Gag Laws Could Make America Sick

Against these criticisms, farm industry advocates argue that activists often misportray what actually happens on farms, turning isolated incidents into inflammatory narratives of routine abuse that further anti-meat-eating goals. The industry also portrays undercover video-taking as a violation of farmer rights.

“At the end of the day it’s about personal property rights or the individual right to privacy,” said Bill Meierling, a spokesman for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business group that drafted the model for many of the ag-gag laws, to the Associated Press. “You wouldn’t want me coming into your home with a hidden camera.”

Exposed: How Murdoch, Bill Gates and Big Corporations are Data Mining our Schools

Besides New York and Louisiana, inBloom has contracts with seven other states. All are part of the Shared Learning Collaborative, a pilot program set up by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to help implement Common Core standards through the tracking of student data. The Council of Chiefs, also a non-profit, is composed of the heads of America’s state school systems who work together with corporations to collectively design education policy, in mold of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. 

North Carolina Republicans push through anti-renewable energy bill in ‘banana republic’ vote

“Democrats in North Carolina say they could have defeated a bill to repeal renewable energy subsidies on Wednesday if Republicans had not pushed it through committee without counting the votes.

“Environmental advocates have suggested that Republicans based the bill on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Republican state Rep. Mike Hager, who authored the bill, is an ALEC member.

The Future of the Climate Debate Is in the Laboratories of Democracy

“A key fight over efforts to curb climate change is happening in the relative anonymity of various state legislatures. This week, Colorado voted to increase its use of renewable energy, while the North Carolina State Senate voted to do the opposite. But only one side won.

“Opponents in North Carolina were bolstered by support from various conservative groups, a number of which have made the repeal of renewable standards a key priority. The News & Observer notes that “American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and The Heartland Institute are among the organizations pushing to make North Carolina a testing ground for rolling back policies that favor renewable energy.” Those groups aren’t alone. The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council has similarly targeted the policies, prompting a number of renewable companies to end their memberships. Several of the organizations, including ALEC and the Heartland Institute have ties to the fossil fuel industry — which supports rollbacks of renewable energy standards for fairly obvious reasons.” 

Fossil Fuel Empire Strikes Back…At Clean Energy

Front Groups do the Dirty Work for Oil and Gas Industry

“So far, 29 states have implemented Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) programs that require increased production of energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. They’ve been adopted in red states and blue – from California to Texas to Maine – through democratic processes and with popular support. RPS programs have helped jumpstart an industry that is spurring economic development, creating American jobs, boosting energy independence and cutting our carbon footprint.

“The groups may sound familiar: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is currently pushing legislation around the country that would mandate the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems, and The Heartland Institute, which ran a billboard campaign last year comparing global warming “admitters” to Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson. Both have long opposed sensible energy policies. And their funders will sound familiar, too: the oil, gas and coal industries and their owners like the Koch Brothers.” 

State House leaders off to ALEC

“As House lawmakers debated whether to halve the number of North Carolina children eligible for free pre-kindergarten, several key members were missing from the chamber.

“House Speaker Thom Tillis, Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, and Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, left early Thursday to attend the ALEC Spring Task Force meeting in Oklahoma City, scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

“According to Tillis spokesman Jordan Shaw, the only state funds spent were for registration fees – a practice also extended for legislators’ trips to other conferences, like the National Conference of State Legislators.

“ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, describes itself as a free-market, limited-government group.”

Nullification: How States Are Making It a Felony to Enforce Federal Gun Laws

“In mid-April, Kansas passed a law asserting that federal gun regulations do not apply to guns made and owned in Kansas. Under the law, Kansans could manufacture and sell semi-automatic weapons in-state without a federal license or any federal oversight.

“Kansas’ “Second Amendment Protection Act” backs up its states’ rights claims with a penalty aimed at federal agents: when dealing with “Made in Kansas” guns, any attempt to enforce federal law is now a felony. Bills similar to Kansas’ law have been introduced in at least 37 other states. An even broader bill is on the desk of Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell. That bill would exempt any gun owned by an Alaskan from federal regulation. In Missouri, a bill declaring federal gun laws “null and void” passed by an overwhelming majority in the state house, and is headed for debate in the senate.”

International:

More US companies looking to relocate to Britain to dodge corporate tax.

Firms rush to relocate in low-tax Britain

More than 40 multinational companies have inquired about relocating their headquarters to the UK because of the cuts in corporation tax.

Steve Varley, the UK chairman of Ernst & Young, revealed that the accountancy firm knew of the significant number of firms seeking to relocate from countries such as the USA, as well as from the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland.

The high figure will be a boost to George Osborne, the Chancellor, who has made Britain’s lower rates of corporation tax a centrepiece of Government policy. The advertising giant, WPP, recently announced that it would move back to the UK from its present headquarters in Dublin.

“I know of more than 40 multinational companies that have been looking to undertake global and regional headquarter relocations into Britain,” Mr Varley said.

Are renewables doomed to failure in Australia?

“Across the United States right now, a pitched battle is being fought over the future of renewable energy targets in the 29 states that have them. Already, 16 of these states are considering legislation – templated by a fossil fuel-sponsored lobby group, the American Legislative Exchange Council – to repeal or dilute the ambition of renewable standards.

“So far, the campaign – boosted by Tea Party radicals in the Republican movement – has not been successful. In the past week, North Carolina rejected the idea after leading utilities such as Duke Energy, and big data centre operators such as Apple and Google expressed their support for wind and solar projects.

“The new energy minister in WA, Mike Nahan, has upped the ante – possibly in anticipation of the Coalition winning the federal poll in September.

“Nahan is an interesting choice as energy minister. For supporters of renewable energy, he’s actually quite a frightening one.

“The American-born Nahan is a former executive director of the conservative, pro-market, anti-renewable think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, which is so intertwined with conservative policy making that many Coalition politicians refer journalists to the IPA for comment on issues such as energy and climate.

“A collection of Nahan’s thoughts on climate and energy can be found on the IPA website as, like his contemporaries and successors, he was a prolific contributor to (mostly Murdoch-owned) newspapers. They give an interesting insight into his views on all things climate, energy and environment.”

05/03 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

05/03 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

By Bob Sloan

Below are today’s articles and materials related to ALEC and the Koch funded conservative cabal.  Included ALEC published material – if available.

Click on a link to view the complete article.

Thousands Across the U.S. Rightly Protest Sallie Mae For Skyrocketing Student Debt

To coincide with the action students are taking, Jobs with Justice has put out a fact sheet on some of the reasons why the target is Sallie Mae. Points range from Sallie Mae having over 1,500 complaints against them filed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (and they’re still open to comments up until May 28), to the fact that they were one of the few large corporations to join the American Legislative Exchange Council in 2012. That’s after public pressure drove corporations such as McDonald’s away from the organization for supporting legislature such as the “Stand Your Ground” law. 

Rankings Of Idaho’s Business Climate? Take Them With A Grain Of Salt

Why does Idaho come in ninth in one index evaluating state business taxes and climates, but 31st in another?

Five of the six reports critiqued here have something else in common: They are produced by organizations with distinctly conservative ideologies and agendas (theTax Foundation, the Beacon Hill Institute, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, and the American Legislative Exchange Council). The reports, as a result, are really aimed at state policy makers, in the hope of promoting the underlying agendas of the organizations. – Peter Fisher, ‘Grading Places: What Do The Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us?’

 The report details four business climate indices — including the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Rich States, Poor States” report, which ranks Idaho in the top ten, and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s U.S. “Business Policy Index,” which names Idaho number 31 — and is available here. 

 

The bill signed into law in 2012 is entitled, “Firearms Destruction Prevention Act”. No kidding, that’s the title. Moreover, the bill to save confiscated guns from destruction was written and lobbied by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)….you may have heard of them. A few months before passage….

….. the corporations and legislators on the ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force had adopted a version of the “Firearms Destruction Prevention Act” (also known as the “Disposition of Firearms in State and Local Custody Act”) as a “model,” at the behest of the NRA. Both the ALEC/NRA model and the Arizona law have the same functional impact.

When the bill was introduced in the Arizona state Senate, twenty out of its twenty-six sponsors were known ALEC members.

House sends tax cut bill to Gov. Mary Fallin

The bill thus goes to Gov. Mary Fallin, giving her an opportunity to sign it and a sweeping workers compensation reform measure while the American Legislative Exchange Council, a driving force behind much of the nation’s conservative lawmaking, holds its annual convention in Oklahoma City.

Fallin is scheduled to speak to the convention on Friday.

Picture of Governor Fallin speaking to ALEC members today and pictures from inside the ALEC Task Force meeting…

Fallin speaking in OK  Energy task force pic   States task force summit pic

task force meeting in OK

 

NC Senators force ALEC bill through committee without even counting votes

Bitter from a lack of support for his attacks on clean energy incentives, North Carolina Representative Mike Hager is promising some new, dirty tricks to revive the effort. His colleagues in the NC Senate appear to be helping, today advancing the Senate version of Rep. Hager’s bill through committee without counting the votes.

Representative Mike Hager is a former engineer at coal-burning utility Duke Energy — the largest utility in the country and one of the biggest carbon polluters in the world –  and a member of the contentious American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which created the model bill that became Hager’s attack on renewable energy on the dime of companies like Duke, Exxon, Koch Industries and Peabody Energy. 

Big agribusiness is funding the Eco Terrorism Act

So who is behind these bills? Many of the documents contain wording very similar to the original draft written by the lawyers of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate lobby group posing as a non-profit, ‘non-partisan’ think tank. Until recently, ALEC managed to keep its methods and its membership secret; however, a leak followed by a Freedom of Information Act filing revealed that the organization drafts bills on behalf of transnational corporations, and persuades its legislative members (i.e. conservative Senators and Representatives) to introduce those bills. ALEC has secretly lobbied on behalf of the tobacco industry, the gun industry, and against minimum wage laws, all behind closed doors. The organization is effectively a dating agency which matches legislators looking for donations to their campaign funds with big businesses who want an influence on the law. 

Bad Economic Development Ideas from Conservatives

This is an ambitious study that analyzes six different indexes published by five different groups. Four are simple combinations of a wide variety of policy variables, each with its own idiosyncratic weighting systems, all of which are published by conservative organizations such as the Tax Foundation or the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Georgia graded on K-12 performance

The American Legislative Exchange Council recently released its ranking by state of K-12 performance, progress and reform.

Georgia’s education policies grade was B-. The state academic standards were B+ for English and language arts and A- for mathematics.

COMMITTEE TO ELECT RON GEORGE SPECIAL CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULED

Delegate Ron George has served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2007. Delegate George serves on the Ways and Means Committee, Election Law Sub-Committee, Education Sub-Committee, Transportation Sub-Committee, Veterans’ Caucus, Sportsmen’s Caucus, The Commission on Campaign Finance Reform, and the Waterways Workgroup. He is the Founder and Chair of the Doctor’s Caucus. He serves on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.

Pennsylvania lawmakers, officials disclose gifts, travel 

HARRISBURG (AP) — Pennsylvania state lawmakers and other public officials are disclosing gifts, travel and other financial details in annual reports due with the State Ethics Commission.

Elected members of the Legislature reported more than $43,000 in gifts, transportation, lodging and hospitality last year, a number that should rise after the remaining one-fourth of the 253-member body submits their Statements of Financial Interest. The reports are due on Wednesday.

Members accepted travel-related costs for trips to Ireland, Arizona, Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., among other places. They took free ski passes, entertainment and a membership in the Erie Yacht Club.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, said the $2,224 he reported from attending two American Legislative Exchange Council meetings was not for a vacation.

 

 

 

Spring Summit Conference Draws Protesters that Outnumber ALEC Members

Spring Summit Conference Draws Protesters that Outnumber ALEC Members

By Bob Sloan

ALEC Ok 3

Every Spring the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) holds a meeting where their legislative and corporate members are wined and dined and commingle as they develop model legislation intended to provide financial or polictal benefits to corporations.  Model bills are proposed, discussed and voted upon by state lawmakers and their private sector corporate counterparts.  If adopted by the full membership, these policies and models are then sent back to individual states and proposed as new laws for those states – and if passed, will apply to you and I.

This year at the annual ALEC Spring Summit conference held in Oklahoma City , it appeared that for possibly the second time in as many years, protesters, workers and marchers outnumbered corporate and legislative ALEC members in attendance.

The day’s events were organized and planned by the Teamsters, AFLCIO and International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).  Activists and workers carrying signs provided by ALEC Exposed.org and others bearing handwritten placards joined with the union workers marching and chanting in front of the ALEC meeting place.  Though the crowd of protesters were as vocal about telling ALEC it was not okay to be in OK, they were not unruly or obstructed by police as had been the case at previous ALEC protests.

In Phoenix in November 2011 hundreds of protesters showed up to demonstrate, march and inform the public about ALEC.  Police cordoned off the Kierland Westin resort where the ALEC event was being held, refusing entrance to non-ALEC members or registered hotel guests.  Yesterday there was a police presence in OK City but it was minimal and marchers were able to surround the entrance to the Renaissance Hotel and Cox Convention Center.  No police were blocking the entrance or offering to spray protesters as they did in Phoenix – and before that in a New Orleans ALEC protest.

Outside the entrance to Cox Convention Center, a few ALEC members were standing watching the protesters march by on the sidewalk.  As they watched they smiled and some took pictures or video of the marchers passing by – with one ALEC attendee making faces at the crowd and at the media.  Of course, he had his name badge turned around so no one knew who he was or what outfit he represented.  Could have been a state lawmaker, for that matter.

ALEC Ok 4

One person wearing an ALEC “Private Sector Member” badge, was identified as “Dave”.AFP Com Dir on Right 2

When approached by a news reporter and asked if he was an ALEC member, the man was silent then when the reporter focused the camera on the man’s badge, saying “Your badge says you’re the communications and policy director with American’s For Prosperity…” the man at first tried to deny that, saying “No, I’m not.”  When the reporter asked him “What is the Communications and Policy Director for AFP doing here today,” Dave responded, “Oh, right now I’m just standing here.”

This was an important moment in a day of importance…American’s for Prosperity has previously not been identified as being a member of ALEC.  ALEC Exposed.org does not have AFP listed as a non-profit ALEC member…yet this man’s badge (though the video is shaky) clearly identifies him as an ALEC Private Sector Member and further identifies the organization he represents as AFP.

AFP was founded with the support of David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, both of Koch Industries.[, and they are represented upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board (now called the Private Enterprise Advisory Council) by Mike Morgan of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC

A full video of the day’s events was livestreamed over the internet and can be found at the AFLCIO site here.  The above confrontation between “Dave” and the media reporter occurs at between 49 and 52 minutes into the video.

All of us here at VLTP send out a heartfelt thanks to the organizers, unions, businesses and individuals who participated in yesterday’s events.  We need much more of this and hopefully as ALEC makes plans for their upcoming Annual Conference in Chicago in early August, a larger contingent will be on hand to again provide ALEC and all of their attending members – a great big Chicago “welcome”.

Below are some screen shots from the protest march yesterday… The first shows “Dave” with the sidekick that made faces at the reporter’s camera and had his name badge hidden.

AFP Com Dir on Right    ALEC Ok 2    ALEC Ok 1

How Embarrassing – ALEC Mtg OKC – No Quorum

How Embarrassing – ALEC Mtg OKC – No Quorum

From “Because I Can” Blogspot by 2old2care…

How incredibly sad.
ALEC doesn’t have a quorum
– for their big meeting about writing and passing ALEC “model legislation”.
One of three meetings held annually, this one focuses on ALEC “model legislation” and
only 15% of their ALEC legislators showed up.
How incredibly sad.
ALEC must be so embarrassed.
No Quorum – the votes on the legislation don’t count
No Quorum – the discussion is useless.
What a waste of taxpayer money –
They have NO quorum – they can’t do anything binding
May as well just put those 15% of ALEC legislators back on the plane and send ’em home!
Here you have an organization going down the toilet
and only 15% of their members show up for a meeting.
A meeting where the travel, hotel and registration is paid for by ALEC Corporations
and 85% of their legislative members don’t even show up.
Don’t even show up to show their support of this flailing organization.
That is so sad – it’s funny!
ALEC must be sooooooooooooo embarrassed.
This is so incredibly sad.
I’d feel sorry for them – if I didn’t dislike them so much.
How embarrassing!
“About 500 people, mostly lawmakers from across thecountry, are expected to converge next week in Oklahoma City for the spring meeting of an organization that promotes free-market and conservative ideas.”
ABOUT FIVE HUNDRED “PEOPLE”
NOT 500 legislative members of ALEC
500 PEOPLE
Let’s crunch some numbers on ALEC legislators:
Civil Justice Task Force  – 168 members
Commerce – 214 members
Communications and Technology – 181 members
Education – 181 members
Health and Human Services – 247 members
International Relations – 106 members
Public Safety and Elections – 151 members
Tax & Fiscal Policy – 228 members
168
214
181
181
247
106
151
228
1,476
Assume
50% are corporations (788)
25% of legislators serve on more than one task force (duplication) (225)
That means
553 ALEC members who are task force members
OOOOPS!!!!!!
ALEC BRAGS that they have 2,000+ legislative members
And yet only 500+ are task force members
AND
Only about 500+ PEOPLE will be at the meeting in Oklahoma City today and tomorrow.
That includes the ALEC profit sector members
500 legislators would ONLY be 25% of 2,000+ ALEC legislative members.
NOW – even if we are generous and say 300 of the 500 PEOPLE attending the meeting in OKC are ALEC legislative members – that would be ONLY 15% of ALEC legislators –
15% of the total ALEC members making legislative decisions for all ALEC members.
15% of the total ALEC members developing the nasty ALEC “model legislation” that is distributed across the United States
15% lousy percent
That is really embarrassing.
We’re not even talking a quorum here – unless they consider the quorum to be the ALEC Profit Sector members.
Do these 15% of all ALEC members represent the most extremist, ultra-conservative, right-wing members that the American Legislative Exchange Council has?
Pretty sad, so sad
– when this meeting according to ALEC is to:
During the meeting, legislators will introduce and debate potential model policies that will have a positive impact on the American economy
They should say – During the meeting, only 15% of ALEC legislators will introduce and debate  ….
Pretty sad.
It’s so sad – it’s brahahahahahah funny!
Earlier this week Banz (ALEC-OK) wrote in an opinion piece:
Next week, hundreds of legislators from around the country will gather in Oklahoma City for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Spring Task Force meetings.
Should be
Next week, a couple of hundred of legislators from around the country will gather in Oklahoma City for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Spring Task Force meetings.
ALEC must be sooooooooooooo embarrassed.
This is so incredibly sad.
I’d feel sorry for them – if I didn’t dislike them so much.
Here you have an organization going down the toilet
and only 15% of their members show up for a meeting.
How embarrassing!
How incredibly embarrassing!!!

05/01 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

05/01 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

By Bob Sloan

Below are today’s articles and materials related to ALEC and the Koch funded conservative cabal.  Included ALEC published material – if available.

Click on a link to view the complete article.

First “Ag-Gag” Prosecution: This Utah Woman Filmed a Slaughterhouse from the Public Street

“This is the first prosecution in the country under one of these laws, which are designed to silence undercover investigators who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms. The legislation is a direct response to a series of shocking investigations by groups like the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals, and Compassion Over Killing that have led to plant closures, public outrage, and criminal charges against workers.

“Even the most sweeping ag-gag bills, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council model legislation, don’t explicitly target filming from a roadside. But Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont are all considering bills similar to the Utah law right now.”

Renewable energy becomes a utility lifeline

“When North Carolina Republicans brought forth a bill pushed by the conservative lobbying group ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, to gut the state’s renewable energy standards, they figured they had a model piece of pro-business legislation that would sail through the legislature this year.

“But, as North American Windpower gleefully reported, it died in committee. Key to the story is the committee where it died — public utilities and energy.”

The Oil And Gas Industry’s Assault On Renewable Energy

A Bloomberg article released last week details how the oil and gas industry, through some self-described free market organizations that they fund, are trying to engineer a legislative massacre of these policies in more than a dozen states.

“The groups may sound familiar: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is currently pushing legislation around the country that would mandate the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems, and The Heartland Institute, which ran a billboard campaign last year comparing global warming “admitters” to Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson. Both have long opposed sensible energy policies. And their funders will sound familiar, too: the oil, gas and coal industries and their owners like the Koch Brothers.”

A Movement Is Needed to Get Corporations to Disclose All Their Political Spending. Let’s Start It

“Among those pressuring companies to be more forthcoming is Rob McGarrah of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment. The union owns shares of stock in many companies, including Cigna, and is asking them to provide shareholders and the public with a more complete accounting of spending to influence public policy.

“McGarrah was unsuccessful in persuading Cigna to disclose “special assessments” on behalf of AHIP and other groups, so the AFL-CIO submitted a shareholder resolution that would compel the company to report indirect funding of lobbying through trade associations and tax-exempt organizations, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, which drafts “model legislation” to protect business interests.”

ALEC-Orchestrated Bill To Preempt Paid Sick Leave Passes Florida Senate

“But “preemption bills,” laws orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that override any efforts to implement paid sick days, are also gaining speed, with the latest passed by Florida’s state Senate on Friday. The bill, which had huge support from Disney World, Darden Restaurants (owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, would delay local government efforts to adopt paid sick leave policies.”

How to get to work on time in Russia (and more from In Other News)

“Prodded by the meat and poultry industries, state legislators nationwide are introducing laws making it harder for animal-welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food-safety cases. Measures in Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, for example, would outlaw videotaping agricultural operations. Iowa already made it illegal to deny belonging to an animal-welfare organization when applying for a farm job. Other bills are pending in California, Nebraska and Tennessee. The force behind this legislative agenda, whose purpose, Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States, insisted, “is to prevent any pattern of abuse from being documented,” is the American Legislative Exchange Council. It labels those who interfere with animal operations “terrorists” and titled the California bill the “Animal and Ecological Terrorist Act,” although an ALEC official admitted “Freedom to Farm Act” would’ve sounded better. (Associated Press)”

Governor Mary Fallin to Address Legislators from Across the United States

“OKLAHOMA CITY  —  Governor Mary Fallin will speak to hundreds of state legislators from across the country on Thursday at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Spring Task Force Summit. The two day summit will be held this year at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

“Fallin, who was named a “Legislator of the Year” by ALEC while serving as a state representative, will discuss this year’s legislative session and highlight the success of pro-growth policies in Oklahoma.”

LETTER: ALEC too far right for these groups

“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a group promoting far-right legislation. Its tax exempt status is currently challenged, as its sole purpose is to formulate legislation promoting extremely conservative points of view and helping the rich and powerful maintain their status.

“The South Dakota Legislative Board has voted to spend our tax dollars to pay for membership dues for all our state legislature’s members and all their expenses to attend ALEC meetings.”

ALEC related material published or distributed by ALEC…

National Center for Public Policy Research to Participate in Five Shareholder Meetings this Week, Bringing Total to 18 So Far for this Shareholder Meeting Season

“Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research will directly address five major U.S. corporations this week as part of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, which calls major corporations to account for activities that undermine the free market and/or a free and prosperous United States.

“Activities of particular interest include 1) corporations engaging in cronyist practices that suck money from taxpayers; 2) corporations lobbying to expand the size of government; 3) corporations imposing expensive private regulatory regimes on suppliers, often for greenwashing purposes, in the name of “sustainability;” and 4) corporations caving in to ridiculous left-wing demands, for example, demands to shun the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“The National Center also attends meetings to compliment CEOs who stand up for freedom and the free market.”

ALEC Covering Tracks in Advance of Oklahoma Meeting

ALEC Covering Tracks in Advance of Oklahoma Meeting

From PRWatch by Brendan Fischer

For months now the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has been submitting FOIA requests to Wisconsin lawmakers.  They have requested emails to/from legislators and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  These requests for documentation is in pursuit of transparency…to determine model legislation emanating from ALEC that is introduced in Wisconsin.  In addition, CMD asked for materials that would be distributed by ALEC at their Spring Task Force Summit this week in Oklahoma City, Ok.

Regardless of claims of transparency given to MSM and conservative media outlets by ALEC, their actions refute such claims.  For instance, in March ALEC announced it was making their “library” of model bills public in an effort of promoting transparency.  They not only made their model legislation publicly available, in the press release they made their first attempt at distancing themselves from the stigma surrounding the acronym “ALEC”, by now referring to their organization as the “Exchange Council”:

“[T]he Exchange Council develops model policies based on academic research, existing state policy and proven business practices. The Council and its task forces closely imitate the legislative process of state government. Ideas are introduced and assigned to an appropriate task force based on subject and scope. Meetings are conducted where experts present facts and opinions for discussion, just as they would in committee hearings. These discussions are followed by a vote.”

Now we’re informed that actual model bills written and circulated by ALEC to members, for the upcoming conference are so secret ALEC is dispersing them using time sensitive links available only to select members – with a “need to know”.  So much for ALEC’s style of transparency…

“Despite ALEC trying to spin itself as a “transparent” organization, ALEC records have miraculously been disappearing from legislative offices and the organization is engaged in a box drop dodge to avoid disclosure. But while ALEC legislators are meeting behind closed doors with corporate lobbyists, citizens will be rallying in the streets raising awareness about how ALEC’s agenda favors large corporations at the expense of average Americans.

“In the past, the Center for Media and Democracy had obtained advance agendas for ALEC meetings through open records requests to legislators in multiple states. But in recent months ALEC records have miraculously been disappearing from legislative offices.”

Such obfuscation is not a new development…

“This is not the first time that ALEC legislators have attempted to dodge open records requests. Last year, CMD filed a lawsuit against five Wisconsin legislators who had tried evading their responsibilities under the open records law by shifting their ALEC correspondence to a personal email account (like Gmail or Yahoo). When CMD prevailed in the lawsuit, as part of the settlement the legislators acknowledged they had failed to release ALEC-related emails and agreed to comply with the law.”

Someone needs to have a heart-to-heart with ALEC’s new PR Director, Meierling and provide him with Webster’s definition of “transparency.” Nothing about ALEC is transparent – as we have come to understand after several years of research and investigation.  For this an other reasons, demonstrations, marches and union organized events protesting ALEC are being planned for this week in OK. City.  VLTP would urge those located near OK. City to attend and lend their voices to the ALEC inspired protests this week.

Read the entire PRWatch article -> HERE <-

4/27 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

4/27 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

alec for dummies (2)

Daily reports on articles and material related to the American Legislative Exchange Council.  Below are links to important stories covering 4/26 and 4/27…

Report by Progress Missouri Highlights ALEC Infiltration in MO

More than forty bills introduced in the Missouri state legislature echo American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation, and at least 60 legislators are ALEC members, according to a new report from Progress Missouri.

Bills like so-called right to work laws, resolutions supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, a “parent trigger act” to accelerate the privatization of public schools, and an array of bills that construct legal and financial shields for corporations whose products injure or kill can be traced back to ALEC model legislation.

Tell ALEC Members They’re Not OK

“ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is bringing its anti-worker agenda to Oklahoma City on May 2-3 at its “Spring Task Force Summit.” At the summit, corporations, political contributors and state lawmakers will meet behind closed doors. The corporations will give lawmakers copies of the legislation they want to empower CEOs and billionaires while undermining democracy, weakening workers’ rights, eradicating public education and eliminating environmental and consumer protections.

“Sign the petition today to say that you are committed to telling your union brothers and sisters, family, neighbors and friends about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and that you are also committed to joining the action against ALEC in Oklahoma City on May 2-3 or raising your voice against ALEC on Facebook and Twitter on those days.”

‘Factory Farms’ Aren’t Farms: They Are Concentration Camps for Animals

“Oddly, each of these state proposals is practically identical, even including much of the same wording. That’s because, unbeknownst to the public and other legislators, the bills don’t originate from the state lawmakers who introduce them. Instead, they come from a Washington-based corporate front group named ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council.” 

Lawmakers should not ask state to pay for their memberships in conservative group

“The Legislature’s Executive Board, dominated by Republicans, decided this week that the state treasury should pay the $100 memberships for all 105 South Dakota legislators in an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council, and also foot the bill for unlimited out-of-state trips to ALEC events by state lawmakers who serve on ALEC committees.

“That’s an issue because ALEC – described on its own website as “a nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers” – is not nonpartisan in the sense that an organization such as the National Conference of State Legislatures is.”

 National Center Policy Experts Quiz Pfizer CEO Ian Read and Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky

Short Hills, NJ / New Brunswick, NJ / Washington, D.C. – Policy experts from the National Center for Public Policy Research attended the shareholder meetings of both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey today, seeking answers from CEOs Ian Read and Alex Gorsky, respectively, on timely public policy issues including the government’s possible abuse of the “academic detailing” portion of the 2009 stimulus bill, the need to repeal the innovation- and job-killing medical device tax, and Johnson & Johnson’s decision to drop membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) after originally sticking with it.” 

Rep. Greg Forristall Ignores Public Records Request, Claims All Iowa Legislators are ALEC Members

Click here to send a message directly to Rep. Forristall. Tell him to let Iowans fully participate in the democratic process.

“Rep. Greg Forristall ignored a request to release information about the May 2-3 meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where he will serve as Chair of the Education Task Force, according to correspondence released by Progress Iowa today. Forristall also claimed that all Iowa legislators are members of ALEC, despite reports to the contrary from members of the Iowa House and Senate.” 

How renewable energy won in North Carolina

“From the moment talk of repealing the state’s renewable energy standard began intensifying following last year’s election among conservative groups that have long denied the reality of global warming, the state’s sustainable energy industry and environmental advocates pushed back by focusing on the law’s track record of creating jobs and other economic benefits.

“The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, an industry lobby group, commissioned an economic analysis of the law, which passed in 2007 by a wide bipartisan margin and was the first of its kind in the Southeast. Released in February, the study conducted by RTI International and La Capra Associates found that North Carolina’s law has been a driver of clean energy development, which in turn as been an important job creator for the state.”

California’s Factory Farms: Corporate-Run Concentration Camps for Pigs, Cows and Chickens

“Yet here comes a mess of so-called “conservatives” attempting to use state government to outlaw messengers who shine a light on corporate wrongdoing — turning those who expose crimes into criminals. Even kookier, these repressive laws declare that truth-tellers who so much as annoy or embarrass the corporate owner of the animal factory are guilty of “an act of terrorism.”

“The freedom-busting terrorists in this fight are not those who reveal the abuse, but the soulless factory-farm profiteers in the corporate suites and the cynical lawmakers who serve them.

“Oddly, each of these state proposals is practically identical, even including much of the same wording. That’s because, unbeknownst to the public and other legislators, the bills don’t originate from the state lawmakers who introduce them. Instead, they come from a Washington-based corporate front group named ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council.”

Setting the Record Straight on School Vouchers (NC)

RALEIGH — Critics of school vouchers have been out in force recently, particularly in the pages of the News & Observer. For example, last week Yevonne Brannon and Nick Rhodes declared in an op-ed that “school vouchers are wrong for NC.” Let’s take a look at their opposition to House Bill 944: Opportunity Scholarship Act.

11. “North Carolina’s voucher proposal is clearly linked to ‘model’ legislation being pushed in state legislatures by the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council.” 

Actually, House Bill 944 is “linked” to Milton Friedman’s 1955 essay, “The Role of Government in Education.”

Hunhoff Blasts Travel Spending

“South Dakota legislative democrats are upset that the Executive Board has authorized lawmakers to be reimbursed for trips to meetings of the “American Legislative Exchange Council” or “ALEC.” House Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton says the extra travel money was added late in the session, which is an issue in itself.”

“Hunhoff says ALEC is a “right wing, extremist lobbying organization,”

Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

alec for dummies (2)

by Bob Sloan

Today there are numerous articles on ALEC and many of their legislative pursuits in states like South Dakota, Michigan, North Carolina. and elsewhere.  In order to keep readers with an interest in ALEC up to date on stories related to ALEC, we’re posting this page with brief descriptions of ALEC activities and links to the articles or material(s).

Included in this update are links to measures or articles published by ALEC itself, showing their take on issues.

South Dakota approves paying legislators’ ALEC dues

“The Republican-dominated board decided the state treasury should pay for the $100, two-year memberships for all 105 South Dakota lawmakers and for unlimited out-of-state trips to ALEC meetings by legislators who are members of ALEC committees.”

Lisa Graves Updates Us on ALEC

“Lisa Graves: ALEC is urging its members to no longer use the acronym. In a note to ALEC legislators and private sector members, ALEC’s spokesman said: “You may have noticed we are limiting the use of the acronym ‘ALEC.’ Over the past year, the word ‘ALEC’ has been used to conjure up images of a distant, mysterious, Washington alphabet organization of unknown intentions,” which he says could not be further from the truth, adding that “the organization has refocused on the words ‘Exchange’ and ‘Council’ to emphasize our goal of a broad exchange of ideas to make government work better and more efficiently.” This re-branding is a classic PR technique. Big Tobacco used it to try to distance some of its brands with negative consumer users.”

House panel turns out light on effort to end renewable energy subsidies

RALEIGH, N.C. — A western North Carolina lawmaker received a stinging defeat Wednesday as his own committee voted down his proposal to freeze and repeal the state’s renewable energy standards.”

Rep. Hager is a known ALEC member and ending renewable energy subsidies is a pet model bill of ALEC.

 

BREAKING: North Carolina legislators reject ALEC’s fossil fuel funded attack on clean energy

 

“ALEC has zero model bills to repeal incentives for coal, oil or gas companies, and rolling back state renewable energy incentives is one of ALEC’s national priorities for the next couple years. ALEC’s energy company members like Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Duke Energy, and Peabody coal are hungry for a anti-renewable trophy after suffering a defeat in Kansas and now North Carolina.

“While ALEC’s anti-RPS bill was voted down in North Carolina today, ALEC legislators in Ohio are working to introduce a similar bill, comparing the renewable incentives to Joseph Stalin’s five year plan.

Progress Missouri to release updated ALEC Exposed report Thursday (link unavailable at this time)

JEFFERSON CITY – Progress Missouri will release a detailed research report
Thursday exposing the influence of the American Legislative Exchange
Council (ALEC) in the Missouri Capitol. Through ALEC, corporations hand
Missouri legislators wish lists in the form of “model” legislation that
often directly benefit their bottom line at the expense of Missouri
families. Behind closed doors, numerous ALEC model bills are crafted by
corporations, for corporations. Elected officials who are members of ALEC
then bring their model legislation back to Missouri, where they claim them
as their own ideas and important public policy innovations without
disclosing that corporations crafted and pre-voted on the bills at
closed-door meetings with legislators who are part of ALEC.

The report will be made available formally at 1:00 pm on today, April
25th in House Hearing Room 7. Sean Soendker Nicholson of Progress
Missouri will moderate a short panel discussion featuring Representative
Kevin McManus; Trish Medina, worker & UFCW member; Carol
Weatherford, retired teacher; and Mike Diel of the Sierra Club. The panel discussion will
begin after the screening of the documentary “United States of ALEC,”
narrated by Bill Moyers.

HOME RULE HYPOCRITES – new group website from Florida

“ALEC and its legislative members have been responsible for some of Florida’s most anti-middle class legislation, and have been linked to HB 655 and SB 726. Even though they have ties to this legislation that completely blocks home rule and local control regarding employee benefits and protections, ALEC has been making the following statements via social media: “One size does not fit all. We should keep things local.” Rep. Precourt is the Chair of the ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force in Florida and Sen. Simmons has either attended at least one ALEC conference since 2010 and/or paid membership dues at least once from 2010-12 (ALEC in Florida Report).*

Creatures of the Dark: Wisconsin GOP Caught Deleting Records, Again

“As the federal court ruled on Wisconsin’s maps in February of 2012, the Center for Media and Democracy (publishers of PRwatch.org) revealed that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) had invitedlegislators to redistricting conference calls, based on emails obtained through earlier open records requests to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

“The emails CMD obtained were not released to the lawyers challenging the maps. But they should have been. This failure to release all redistricting-related documents opened a new round of legal wrangling, with the court questioning what other documents Republican legislators and their lawyers had kept secret. Additional documents that should have been produced were found when Democrats took control of the state senate after the July 2012 recall elections and obtained access to the Republican redistricting file.”

Editorial: Keep backroom dealings out of the classroom

 

“It’s worth noting that the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch-brothers-related group that creates “model legislation” promoting a radical, anti-regulatory and anti-tax agenda, is a fan of the voucher system.

“The group, which allows corporate interests to weigh in on model legislation before it’s approved by public officials, has several voucher bills available on its website.

 

“We’ll be interested to see whether any legislation that emerges from the skunk group mirrors ALEC’s work.”

 

Tribune Company Scribes: Koch Brothers Purchase Could Turn Papers Into “Conservative Mouthpiece”

“New reports that the politically conservative Koch brothers are interested in buying the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers — which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune — are sparking concerns from newspaper staff members that attempts to influence the editorial process in favor of their far-right political views may follow.”

The Koch Brothers and their company, Koch Industries are long time supporters of ALEC.  Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC holds a seat upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Advisory Council (formerly ALEC’s “Private Enterprise Board of Directors).

Related – 

Ruppert Murdoch, Ayn Rand and A Sociopathic Economy

“To succeed you must “produce.” For Murdoch, distributive justice is the natural outcome of these purely commercial transactions.  He quotes Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute who defines fairness as, “… the universal opportunity to enjoy earned success”. The key words here being “earned success.” Accordingly, producers are entitled to all they earn because if their product wasn’t successful, consumers are free to not buy their product. This would be a cruel argument to make in the presence of an elderly person having to choose between buying food or medicine.  Nevertheless, in this view every sale in a free market system automatically results in a fair distribution of wealth. No other social factors should apply.  In fact, to take from producers what they’ve earned to support the lives of less successful or non-producing human beings is immoral, in Murdoch’s view.

On Earth Day, ALEC Bemoans “Somber” Environmentalists

 

 

“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is centrally involved with pushing environmentally destructive legislation on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, today complained that “Earth Day has been a largely somber event” when it should be “a celebration of the wonderful achievements humankind has made in cleaning and greening the planet,” wrote Todd Wynn, ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force Director.

 

“So why so sad all you greens? Don’t you appreciate how far we have come with ALEC’s help?”

– ALEC PUBLISHED ARTICLES –

Disinformation abounds in these articles published by ALEC at their “American Legislator” blog…

 

Myth of the Day: Income Distribution is Increasingly Inequitable

 

“One of the most prevalent claims, voiced particularly loudly by progressive groups, is that the United States has become a nation of have’s and have-not’s.  Progressives rely heavily on graphs like the one below to show that the top earners in America have enjoyed greater and greater wealth, while the lower and middle classes have been left behind.  In Tax Myths Debunked, Drs. Fruits and Pozdena take on this misconception directly.”

Don’t Just Tax the Internet, Reform Taxes

 

 

“Later today, the Senate is expected to begin consideration of a proposal that would give states long-sought authority to require out-of-state retailers to collect taxes on online purchases. Although proponents have pitched this proposal as an important reform to promote tax fairness and economic growth, we have been struck by how little actual tax reform the proposal would accomplish.”

 

 

 

Earth Day: You have got to admit it is getting better. A little better all the time!

“Although there will always be areas for improvement, environmental quality in this country has improved significantly. Technological improvements, increases in wealth that have enabled greater consumer demand for cleaner products and services, and sensible regulations that protect property rights have helped lead the United States to have some of the cleanest air and water in the world.” 

Comments of support for the Keystone XL Pipeline needed by Monday, April 22, 2013

 

“The Task Force on International Relations has concluded that ultimate approval for the pipeline is in the national interest, for the following reasons:

 

  • The Keystone XL Pipeline is environmentally sound.  According to the Environmental Impact Statement released by the U.S. Department of State in 2011, “the Keystone XL Pipeline will have a degree of safety over any other typically constructed pipeline under current code and a degree of safety along the entire length of the pipeline system similar to that which is required in High Consequence Areas;”

  • construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would add less than 1 percent of additional pipeline to America’s current 180,000 miles of pipeline;

  • transporting Canadian oil via pipeline is significantly less risky than other modes of transport, such as rail;

  • Canada will continue to develop Alberta’s oil sands with or without the Keystone XL, but construction of the Keystone XL will result in thousands of American jobs;

  • the Province of Alberta has proven itself a responsible steward of the environment, restoring Boreal forests to their original condition once oil sands mining operations in an area are completed; and

  • the Keystone XL pipeline will also transport oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota, facilitating the already strong economic growth there.”

 

ALEC: Pursuing Universal Stewardship – Part One

ALEC: Pursuing Universal Stewardship – Part One

VLTP Special Report logo

Editor’s Note:  Over the next few weeks VLTP will be publishing a series exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) involvement with advancing their conservative agenda, model legislation and resolutions worldwide.  We have discovered and begun to monitor the activities of ALEC overseas as they pursue developing and  sponsoring legislation they favor in foreign countries. Unfortunately these activities are a two way street, in that ALEC has numerous foreign elected officials serving as full members, who come to America, meet with U.S. state lawmakers and develop new laws they favor for America’s citizens.  All this will be covered and exposed through this new series beginning today – Bob Sloan, Executive Director.

_____________________________________

By Susan Kraykowski

News of the death of former Conservative British Prime Minister, MargaretThatcher, on April 8, 2013, threw American conservatives’ idolatry of Lady Thatcher into a bright spotlight. It’s entirely appropriate, that President Obama speak to the nation upon the passing of important world leaders – especially those from our allies – and send an official Boehner at ALECdelegation to their funerals. Why, however, has House Speaker, John Boehner (R-OH), insisted upon a special resolution in Thatcher’s honor, as well as upon sending his own, hand-picked representatives to the funeralin addition to the official delegation? Why also is an American presidential library-style memorial to Thatcher – money almost entirely raised in the US – in the planning stages?

One might assume, given this evidence, that perhaps the “special relationship” between American conservatives and their cousins-across-the-pond is a bit more special than usual – and one would be correct in this assumption.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been busy in the United States for a couple of decades, writing the “cookie-cutter” bills that turn up in state legislatures all over the country – the bills which have practically identical wording in them and always seem to benefit corporations and conservative causes over ordinary individuals or community health, education and welfare funding. ALEC and its associated think tank, The Heritage Foundation – of which Lady Thatcher was patron – have recently been extending their tentacles into international territory.

Recently – over most of the past decade – interesting similarities in policy and in the wording of legislation have been turning up in the United Kingdom, especially in England, as well as in the European Parliament. ALEC member organizations have sponsored British MPs as speakers for ALEC events in the United States. Young British Conservative Party trainees – across the pond, one has a “traineeship” as opposed to an internship – attend CPAC each year in droves (one wonders exactly how their ALEC sponsors explain all our 2nd Amendment frothing-at-the-mouth to them). And, there are some strangely easy-to-obtain masters degrees in such disciplines as international relations and public policy from certain sub-institutions of higher learning, offered to British MPs who slip into the US through a loophole in the law that allows them to skip registration as foreign agents if they are in the country pursuing educational opportunities. That seems to be set up to work the opposite way, as well, for American ALEC members.

On the surface, none of this looks especially threatening. Neither does a special resolution in the House of Representatives, honoring MargaretThatcher, after the near-unanimous passage of which, Speaker Boehner declared the House in recess, so no other business could be transacted. That is part and parcel of his prime directive from ALEC, of course: pass no legislation favored by President Obama, even if Republicans originally proposed it and/or a majority of Americans support it. Of course, everyone knows that every dangerous iceberg has an innocuous looking tip, sticking out of the water.

Thatcher - JonesIn subsequent articles, we shall explore the international ALEC iceberg. For each of the above-mentioned issues into which ALEC has insinuated itself on the international stage, we will trace contacts, examine timelines and connect the dots between ALEC, its subsidiary organizations and shells, its members – both individuals and corporations – and the Members of Parliament in the UK and the European Union. MargaretThatcher, deceased though she now is, was one of the architects of the structure built over the years to advance international corporate interests over the interests of either national governments or the social well-being of the people governed. The most important point here is, unless registered as foreign agents, Americans influencing British and European domestic policy, are committing illegal acts. If foreign nationals attempt the same in the United States without registering as agents of a foreign power, they are also committing illegal acts.

 

_________________________________________________

Acknowledgement to the following for providing research and materials used in the Expose –

Former VLTP Program Director, Ron Rabatsky

EU/UK Research team led by na~Saighneain

Jeb Bush: “ALEC’s Report Card on American Education is a helpful guide…”  Look Out MI.!

Jeb Bush: “ALEC’s Report Card on American Education is a helpful guide…” Look Out MI.!

By Bob Sloan

As many have begun to write, ALEC is pursuing privatization of everything “public” in America.  Perhaps a better description for their actions is “profitizing”, a term VLTP has used for nearly two years to describe efforts by the conservative Koch-funded cabal of think tanks and corporations to turn tax dollars into profits through policy and legislative changes.

Many of these policies are designed to redirect state taxpayer dollars from public schools to private or for-profit education corporations. It is perhaps unsurprising that corporate beneficiaries of these policies have also been the corporate benefactors of the non-profit groups promoting them, including FEE and ALEC.

Today there are numerous stories about the cabal’s education initiatives.  Literally dozens of ALEC “model bills” related to privatizing public education exist.  Written by corporations, their attorneys or lobbyists, the models are found within the ALEC arsenal.  Drawing upon these templates, state lawmakers holding membership in ALEC take these boilerplate model bills from ALEC’s extensive “library” and introduce them across our country, state by state.  Corporate members funnel huge amounts of money into buying “support” and sponsorship for these legislative monstrosities.  Together ALEC’s membership of lawmakers and corporate interests then pressure non-ALEC state lawmakers to sign on to sponsor ALEC written and introduced bills.

A major effort of this cabal involves key states where Republicans hold majorities in legislature and a Republican Governor occupies the people’s “house”.  Right now one state stands out as being at the core of a huge struggle over control of that state’s education system.  This battle involves a tug-o-war between corporate profits and the future of tens of thousands of Michigan students.  It pits voter and citizen guarantees of an adequate and proper education against corporate profits sought by ALEC affiliated “educational” companies and their investors.  Pawns in this epic war are; teachers, students and taxpayers aligned against corporate interests represented by bought and controlled state lawmakers.

A similar battle now rages across the U.S. involving gun control.  As that issue has become nationalized we’ve all been able to factually assess the power of the NRA and the “Cabal” as corporate campaign funding and lobbying has been used to defeat the will of nearly 90% of Americans polling in favor of background checks.  Millions of corporate dollars spent on lobbying and campaign contributions have bought (there really is no other word for it) Congressional votes against the will and safety of the people.

Privatizing education is simply another initiative advanced by the same cabal as gun control, denying climate change, voter ID and Right to Work (for less) legislation now being pursued in Michigan.  The methodology, tools, tactics and “players” on the conservative cabal’s side are identical.  Develop a plan to profit off some form of government service, bring in the think tanks to write studies, reports and compile “data” that supports privatization, supply ALEC with the wording of desired legislation to legalize or authorize the wishes of the profiteers then adopt the finished and polished legislative crafting as model legislation.

Next, bring in the corporate owned media outlets and give them a script of why privatizing [insert need here] is necessary and will save taxpayers tons of money and finally give your 2,000 state legislative members marching orders along with a copy of the proposed legislation and send them “home” to their districts to introduce what the media has begun calling “critical and necessary” legislation to cure a failing government program, department of service.

Each topic is advanced using the same fill in the “[Title of Bill”] here, “[Your state] here”, “[cite as statute number __________ here]” template.  It really is that simple – and effective.  In this manner the public has become “informed” on the issue through media disinformation and are easily convinced the government is failing and the only way to save [insert program name here] is to turn it over to corporate control. This strategy worked for tort reform, privatizing prisons and creating prison industries, Right To Work, Stand Your Ground, privatizing school transportation, state toll roads, state lotteries and to end collective bargaining in many states.

In the battle over Michigan’s education system, the formula and playbook have been utilized once again.  Vouchers, charter schools, long distance learning and standardized testing bills to turn state education funds over to corporations,  have all followed a successful campaign to privatize school transportation.  The Koch-funded Mackinac Center and a new conservative think tank, the Oxford Foundation have joined with the likes of the DeVos family foundations to fund the concerted effort of privatizing the state’s public education system.  Lately they have been joined by another conservative “heavy hitter” in the education game; Jeb Bush and his “Foundation for Excellence in Education” (FEE).

In November of last year, PRWatch published an article on FEE and their connectivity to ALEC’s educational pursuits.  Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy wrote:

“Aptly named FEE, Bush’s group is backed by many of the same for-profit school corporations that have funded ALEC and vote as equals with its legislators on templates to change laws governing America’s public schools. FEE is also bankrolled by many of the same hard-right foundations … that have funded ALEC. And, they have pushed many of the same changes to the law, which benefit their corporate benefactors and satisfy the free market fundamentalism of the billionaires whose tax-deductible charities underwrite the agenda of these two groups.

“FEE and ALEC also have had some of the same “experts” as members or staff, part of the revolving door between right-wing groups. They have also collaborated on the annual ALEC education “report card” that grades states’ allegiance to their policy agenda higher than actual student performance. That distorted report card also rewards states that push ALEC’s beloved union-busting measures while giving low grades to states with students who actually perform best on standardized knowledge tests.

“The ALEC/FEE scoring is based in part of whether states have embraced changes to the law to advance charter schools or virtual schools (which FEE touts as “digital education”) or other corporate-backed reforms. Yet, studies of the actual performance of such schools raise serious questions of the costs versus benefits of market-driven primary and secondary education.

“These shortcomings have not stopped FEE’s founder, Jeb Bush, from putting his name on the preface to the 16th Edition of the ALEC’s Report Card on Education, asserting: ‘ALEC’s Report Card on American Education is a helpful guide for anyone who wants to achieve a quality education for all students.’

A close affiliate of both FEE and ALEC is an organization known as Chiefs for Change (CfC). Another conservative outfit lending support to Jeb Bush and ALEC in the pursuit of privatizing education, CfC is instrumental in securing corporate funding for privatization efforts.  CfC’s Chair for 2012 was Dr. Tony Bennett.

Bennett was the former head of Indiana’s school system until his defeat in the 2012 election.  In that capacity, Bennett toured the country on behalf of ALEC, touting their legislation and pursuits of virtual education, long distance learning, school vouchers and Charter schools.  Under Bennett’s sponsorship, Indiana passed legislation to allow charter schools and implemented other education programs beneficial to corporate interests.

Recently Schools Matter blog reported on FOIA’s secured by In The Public Interest that found:

“Emails between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), founded and chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and state education officials show that the foundation is writing state education laws and regulations in ways that could benefit its corporate funders. The emails, obtained through public records requests, reveal that the organization, sometimes working through its Chiefs For Change affiliate, wrote and edited laws, regulations and executive orders, often in ways that improved profit opportunities for the organization’s financial backers.

Many of ALEC’s model bills were found to be used by CfC and FEE in Maine and elsewhere:

K-12 is a for-profit corporation that pushes “virtual” schooling. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange as LRN. While most American families have struggled financially in the four years since Wall Street crashed the economy at the end of the Bush Administration, K-12’s revenues have increased by over 300%, from over $226 million in 2008 to over $708 million this year. Member of ALEC’s Education Task Force.

Connections Academy, which previously co-chaired ALEC’s Education Task Force for a number of years and funded ALEC, is also a funder of FEE. Connections Academy is a division of Connections Education LLC, an entity based in Baltimore, Maryland, that contracts with charter schools, school districts, or governmental entities to provide “online” lessons to students…

State Farm Insurance. State Farm, the largest seller of auto insurance in the US, was listed on FEE’s “Meet the Donors!” page. State Farm has a seat on ALEC’s corporate board. Its CEO, Ed Rust, is also the co-chair of the Business Roundtable, which includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and he previously chaired the Financial Services Roundtable, which advances the interests of Wall Street bank and investment firms. In 2010, State Farm had revenue of $1.8 billion and paid Rust $10.2 million in compensation…

Intel. This computer chip maker has been a financial supporter of both ALEC and FEE.

Microsoft. Bill Gates’ company has previously paid for a seat on ALEC’s Communications and Technology Task Force, where its corporate representative has voted as equals with legislators on bills to change state laws on telecomm issues.

Other corporations that are not donors to ALEC but have given to FEE include, Apple, Inc.TargetMcGraw Hill, and Electronic Arts, and acronymed corporations such as ETSSMART, and SAS, The Walton Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation.

All of the foregoing are funders, contributors and/or members of ALEC, FEE or CfC – or of all three. Not surprisingly most of these same corporate players – along with the named foundations and FEE, CfC – all participated in the 2011 Philanthropy Roundtable where Education was on the menu as the “main entree” served up to conservative philanthropists and prospective investors as a new potential for profits.  Here is a list of the speakers at the 2012 Philanthropy Roundtable and most of the names mirror those of attendees the previous year.

Here is a graphic showing how the cabal influenced recent events involving education in Maine (from the Portland Press Herald). This represents precisely what is being done today in Michigan and other states across America.

virtualschoolssmall

It’s time for voters and parents of school age children in Michigan and elsewhere across this vast country to wake up and realize while they’ve been sleeping, corporate interests have been working hard to sacrifice quality public education for corporate profits. They want your tax dollars to go toward enriching them as a reward for lessening the quality of teaching your children will receive through “their” publicly funded programs.

Public education took us to the moon and back, sent exploratory missions to Mars and beyond and in essence helped build America and develop the middle class. Corporate interests would have us disregard all that and turn our entire education system and all it’s programs over to them to use as tools to attract investors and increase profits.

My question is what happens if/when these vulture capitalists get tired of playing school…or education doesn’t provide the projected and expected returns?  If the likes of Bain Capital decides to “speculate” and take a controlling interest in corporate education, looking to amass a huge windfall by selling off assets and eliminating jobs…where will America be then?  Education, like criminal justice, court systems, policing and fire protection are all services that should always remain government controlled.  None exist or provide services expecting to make profits.  No, they are necessary programs that require only the funding needed to operate fully and efficiently.  The concept of turning such duties over to a bunch of corporations looking to profit off them is ludicrous and leads to drops in quality, protections and timely service as dollars MUST go to provide dividends to investors, not to rebuilding infrastructures or improving quality.

Everyone should remember what it meant 40 years ago to own something “made in America.” Manufacturers took pride in their products, provided lengthy warranties on their products and valued consumer loyalties.  Console TV’s made in the U.S. had long and dependable usage lasting 20 or 30 years before needing replacement.  Today those same products barely last 1 year.  Craftsmanship and quality of materials of products sold by American manufacturers have dropped as those products are now made by foreign workers, using lesser quality raw materials.  Expensive extended warranties are now needed if you want to use a product longer than 1 year without costly replacement.

Let us not allow our public education system to go the way of our manufacturing at the hands of corporate raiders and venture capitalism.  This cabal has been pursuing access to taking over public education for a quarter of a century now.  Every year their legislative members have worked to defund education programs, cut back on subsidies to higher education, research and sciences. Charles and David Koch along with many corporate funding sources such as BB&T bank have stepped forward, taking advantage of the dire financial straits created by these cuts.  They offer money in exchange for policy changes that allow “their” brand of economics to be taught in colleges and universities…their brand of science that denies global warming exists or about the age of Earth or life itself.  Charter school legislation comes with fine print that drops the requirement that their “teachers” be certified or state accredited.  While claiming they can “fix” public education, they insist they can do it profitably while providing education to larger classes, thousands of students being taught by one teacher from thousands of miles away.  No need to pay standard wages to teachers when one can do the work of dozens through virtual software, so they’ve introduced legislation to mandate students in public school must complete one or more virtual classes to graduate.  They’ve set teacher salary caps and to implement salaries based upon testing and graduation rates.

All of those radical concepts are finding their way into our schools – K-12 and higher education.  Once these exploiters get their hands on the “Full Monty” these polices and practices will become standard.  Not only the future of students will be adversely impacted…all of us will ultimately pay the price for not rejecting all attempts to profitize our education systems.