tax policy

ALEC’s Christmas Gift to All…

ALEC’s Christmas Gift to All…

by Bob Sloan

Below are links to many articles related to ALEC’s pursuit of oppressing votes, grabbing up all the public education dollars they can and in general advancing the conservative agenda through continuing meme…also included are letters and article opposing this agenda.  Many are letters to editors, opinion pieces by citizens now alerted to the presence and pursuits of ALEC and the SPN cabal…

Just let the sun shine on in

Now the Koch brothers are coming after my solar panels.

I had solar panels installed on the roof of our Washington, D.C. home this year. My household took advantage of a generous tax incentive from the District government and a creative leasing deal offered by the solar panel seller.

Our electric bills fell by at least a third. When people make this choice, the regional electric company grows less pressured to spend money to expand generating capacity and the installation business creates good local jobs. Customers who use solar energy also reduce carbon emissions.

What’s not to love?

According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative network better known as ALEC, our solar panels make us “free riders.” What?

ALEC Members won’t support democracy

It is fair to assume that America is host to an incredibly ignorant population who know very little about their government and how it affects their daily lives. That sad fact was exposed in a brilliant 2008 book revealing that only 20% of the population can name the three branches of government and 49% think a president has the authority to suspend the Constitution. However, the population’s ignorance of their government aside, it is highly probable that every American supports democracy; unless they are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). To Americans aware of ALEC and its intent to create a corporate oligarchy and privatized government, it is not surprising that if ALEC members were asked to sign a pledge to support democracy, they would refuse, and that is precisely what happened in a little-reported story last week.

Last Thursday while ALEC was holding its annual meeting in Washington D.C., a group of working family activists, AFSCME, the Postal Workers union (APWU), AFT, and Jobs with Justice appeared at the meeting and asked ALEC members to sign a pledge “upholding the will of the people and support democracy, or leave their states.” The people at ALEC’s meeting did not sign the pledge and corporate-controlled media did not report the event because a revelation that an organization dedicated to serving corporate interests represented by the Republican Party refusing to support democracy would not play well with the public. In fact, for about 30 years ALEC has quietly been dismantling America’s democracy while hiding in the shadows, and it is just recently that a very tiny minority of the population even know ALEC exists.

(In the following article ALEC acolyte, Sterling Beard accuses Michigan’s AFL-CIO President, Karla Swift of plagiarizing material in an anti-ALEC op-ed.  As most know “Tool kits” are a standard ALEC tool used to put out information to their supporters and encouraging those individuals and organizations to use the material to advance the agenda on specific issues.  Now that the same tactic is being used by their adversaries, ALEC and the RW crowd want to cry foul and accuse folks of plagiarism.  

Here is one current example of ALEC’s use of a “Tool Kit”… “State Budget Reform Toolkit“which has been used and promoted by the Reason Foundation, Heartland Institute, promoted by various SPN or conservative sites such as “State Budget Solutions” and circulated in conservative media outlets such as Louisiana’s “Pelican Post“.  The PP article was written by Fergus Hodgson who is the capitol bureau reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. which is a state think tank member of SPN, which is a private sector member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Pelican Institute also has ties to ALEC through its annual Policy Orientation for the Louisiana Legislature of which ALEC is a sponsor.[2] ALEC members have also sat on policy panels at the event.[3]

Though this “State Budget Reform Toolkit” was written by and for ALEC, I’ve yet to see any claims that the Pelican Institute, Heartland or Reason have been accused of plagiarizing ALEC’s materials.  This allegation is simply the “Pot calling the Kettle”…)

Michigan AFL-CIO President Plagiarizes Anti-ALEC Op-Ed from Left-Wing Group’s Materials

Michigan AFL-CIO president Karla Swift heavily plagiarized her recent op-ed against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), lifting entire paragraphs from a “toolkit” created and distributed by the Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal nonprofit group that runs a website entirely devoted to trashing the group…

…Swift’s editorial lifts content from multiple sections of the anti-ALEC toolkit, copying several paragraphs verbatim. We have posted a copy of the toolkit here, with the plagiarized sections highlighted. In all, seven of the editorial’s twelve paragraphs are found in the toolkit. The editorial is part of the Detroit News’s “Labor Voices” feature, which has published pieces by Swift and three other labor leaders, including Teamsters president James Hoffa. The toolkit, dated December 2013, runs for 16 pages and encourages readers to “expose” the groups. 

Campaign finance: Support disclosure so we can follow the money

Yes, Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike McGrath, we need public disclosure of personal financial interest and those of their families.

Montana Supreme Court Justice James A. Rice, while a member of the Montana House of Representatives, was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a corporate bill mill; it is not just a lobby or a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wish list to benefit their bottom line.

A new study by the Center for Public Integrity shows that outside spending groups, including nonprofits that do not disclose their donors and state-level super PACs, are funneling more and more money into state Supreme Court races. Out-of-state influence likely helped decide recent races in North Carolina, Iowa and Mississippi.

Our View: Things go worse with Koch

Isaiah J. Poole, the author of an op-ed in Thursday’s Standard-Times, brought attention to a well-financed movement that aims to remove economic incentives to put solar panels on a homeowner’s roof. (“National View: Let the solar shine in.”)

It makes reference to a report from a British newspaper, The Guardian, which was covering a Washington, D.C., policy summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, in early December.

ALEC — which cleverly gets around lobbying rules by including right-wing members of Congress in its membership — “specializes in getting the right-wing agenda written into state laws,” according to Poole.

And according to The Guardian: “The group sponsored at least 77 energy bills in 34 states last year. The measures were aimed at opposing renewable energy standards, pushing through the Keystone XL pipeline project and barring oversight on fracking.”

Is Carbon Pricing a Diversion From the Real Story?

“One of the more solid tenets of Big Oil dogma has always been that carbon pricing, whether a straightforward tax or a market-based cap-and-trade system, is terrible and conservatives must stand in unison against it. Daily Caller reporter Michael Bastach, a former Koch Institute Intern, confirmed this recently: ‘This vote against a carbon tax in the (American Legislative Exchange Council) ALEC meeting in Chicago… comes after Republicans in both the House and the Senate voted unanimously against a carbon tax earlier this year’.”

Why Are the Franklin Center’s “Wisconsin Reporter” and “Watchdog.org” Attacking the John Doe?

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity (through its Wisconsin Reporter and Watchdog.org websites) has aggressively attacked the “John Doe” probe into possible campaign finance violations during Wisconsin’s 2011 and 2012 recall elections. Its outlets have also published new information about the apparent targets of the investigation, but they have omitted an important detail: Franklin Center has close ties to individuals and groups that may be caught up in the John Doe.

Franklin Center in Your StateThe only name associated with the investigation, Eric O’Keefe, helped launch the Franklin Center’s operations in 2009, and his Sam Adams Alliance group provided the majority of its startup budget; O’Keefe has spoken publicly about being subpoenaed in his capacity as director of Wisconsin Club for Growth. Franklin Center’sDirector of Special Projects John Connors, and the Executive Assistant to the President Claire Milbrandt, also have close ties to a group reportedly involved in the John Doe probe. Its former Director of Operations and General Counsel, James Skyles, worked with another group active in the Wisconsin recalls…

…Wisconsin Reporter launched its “Wisconsin’s Secret War” series in October, citing unnamed sources to reveal that Wisconsin Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, and Republican Governors Association had received subpoenas, and describing details about “after-hours visits to homes and offices” and prosecutors’ “demands for phone, email and other records.” Thanks to those unnamed sources, Wisconsin Reporter had a new platform, and used it to recast the John Doe investigation as “an abuse of prosecutorial powers” with “the apparent goal of bringing down Gov. Scott Walker.” The Walker campaign and 28 other groups also reportedly received subpoenas. 

Paid via Card, Workers Feel Sting of Fees

A growing number of American workers are confronting a frustrating predicament on payday: to get their wages, they must first pay a fee.

For these largely hourly workers, paper paychecks and even direct deposit have been replaced by prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards, which work like debit cards, at an A.T.M. to withdraw their pay…

…But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.

These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators.

This comes full circle to ALEC and it’s member, VISA.  As documents acquired and published by Common Cause show, ALEC “untabled” their model legislation titled “Electronic Pay Choice Act” in 2010 at the request of VISA representative, Paul Russinoff.  This legislation allows banks and credit card companies to realize huge profits off of fees generated by workers using these payroll debit cards….thus the reason VISA rushed to untable this potential model legislation at ALEC’s December 2010 meeting.  As the Times’ article demonstrates, the legislation is making its way across the country through the efforts of ALEC and their SPN partners in crime.

Once adopted by ALEC the bill passed the private sector unanimously, and passed the public sector with two dissenting votes. Visa also paid to sponsor a workshop at that meeting.  Similar legislation has become law in around a dozen states, according to some estimates.

ALEC’s payroll card legislation, Big banks attack low income workers

A growing number of American workers are no longer given paper paychecks, instead are receiving prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards at an A.T.M. or merchant to withdraw pay.  This may sound convenient but the workers must pay fees to access their pay, and those fees can add up and be very hard on people who earn minimum wage or just above.  Here is an example of such a payroll card in this case a “Citi Payroll card” offered byHome Depot, (https://corporate.homedepot.com/Associates/Pay/Documents/CitiPayrollCard.pdf)…

Burton (IN-ALEC) – Conflict of interest, Nah!

STATEHOUSE (Indianapolis) — The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has appointed State Representative Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) as co-chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee. This subcommittee is an advisory body to the larger Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force.
ALEC works at the state level to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government and federalism. This is done through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.
“I feel honored to have been appointed to this position and I look forward to working with Paul Russinoff of Visa, who serves as the private sector co-chair,” said Rep. Burton. “This subcommittee is open to all members of the larger task force but typically, the members who are most interested and knowledgeable will attend.”
The Financial Services Subcommittee deals with matters related to the financial industry and insurance with the intent to design national legislation.Some of the issues they have covered in the past include the Dodd-Frank Act, homeowners’ insurance and mortgage licensing reciprocity. 
Rep. Burton is Chairman of the Financial Institutions Committee in the Indiana House of Representatives. He also serves on the Insurance Committee.  He introduces and sponsors the model legislation and another ALEC member moves to propose a resolution in support of “Payroll Cards:”
“Resolution in Support of Payroll Cards” – by Ms. Kate Viar, VISA
Motion to adopt the model resolution as amended; passed the public sector unanimously; passed the private sector unanimously; Resolution Passed.
and the model bill is adopted by the full ALEC membership and sent out to state after state…
Shortly after ALEC’s adoption of the Electronic Pay Choice Act we had it in Indiana.  One of the more insidious uses of this legislation in Indiana is that it has been applied to citizens receiving unemployment and similar state benefits.  Already receiving less than 70% of their former salaries, those on unemployment receive their benefits via VISA cards, with accounts set up through PNC bank.  Those without checking accounts must take their benefits via these cards – and pay the additional ATM and withdrawal fees to the bank and in many cases to the state for “transaction fees”.

After a political setback in NC, ALEC retools assault on renewable energy

After turning back a political assault on its groundbreaking renewable energy law, North Carolina could soon be a proving ground for a new strategy in the corporate-led war on clean energy — this one targeting the fast-growing number of homeowners installing solar panels.

Like the last attack on the state’s renewables program, this one is led by the American Legislative Exchange Council, an influential group that brings together corporations and mostly Republican state lawmakers to advocate for business-friendly legislation — activity that has drawn charges of illegal lobbyingby the nonprofit. ALEC, whose corporate members include major coal and electric companies, has long fought environmental regulations and initiatives that encourage a shift to cleaner energy sources.

Nowhere has its efforts been more concerted in recent years than in North Carolina, which in 2007 became the first state in the coal-dependent Southeast to require investor-owned electric utilities to purchase or generate an increasing amount of energy from renewable sources…

PSC Again Hikes Georgia Power Rates, Declines on Solar Tax

ATLANTA — The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted unanimously Tuesday, December 17, 2013, to approve a compromise agreement between Georgia Power and the PSC staff.

As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, Georgia Power’s original request was for a rate increase of 1.46 billion dollars.  The original request also included a newly proposed “solar tax,” a special tax on customers who have solar panels; as well as an increase in the guaranteed profit to Georgia Power.

The PSC agreement cut the amount of the increase by 573 million dollars.  Now, Georgia’s 2.4 million residential and business ratepayers will pay an increase of 873 million dollars over the next three years.

Enchanted Ad Outpaces FedEx’s Adoption of Eco-Friendly Vehicles (NOTE: Fed Ex, UPS and Verizon are longtime members of ALEC…)

The shipping giant’s “Enchanted Forest” ad came out at the end of 2011, a playful episode about its aspirational seamlessness with nature. How close are those cartoon images to the real world? Judging by the actual adoption of alternative fuel transportation, less than idyllic.

FedEx drew widespread praise a decade ago when it unveiled a hybrid electric delivery truck and said it could replace its 30,000 diesel-burning vehicles in 10 years. In its most recent annual report, the delivery giant said its fleet includes 360 hybrid-electric and 165 full-electric trucks, or less than 1 percent of the now-54,100 ground vehicles in its FedEx Express division.

Other major fleet operators, from UPS to Verizon, have slowed their hybrid-vehicle deployments as well. Total sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in North America powered by hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric technologies are projected to grow modestly from 1,800 vehicles in 2013 to nearly 13,000 in 2020, according to a report due out next month from Navigant Research…

League of Women voters to present program on ALEC, policy-making

The League of Women Voters of Central Yavapai County will present an educational opportunity on the American Legislative Exchange Council and Common Cause and their approaches to public policy making from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at Las Fuentes Resort Village, 1035 Scott Drive in Prescott…

Southern Republicans Drag the Rest of the Nation Down by Doing the Kochs’ Bidding

Even though conservatives and right-wing extremists tout America as an exceptional nation, it is fairly common knowledge there is nothing about this country that is exceptional except it has more guns and gun deaths, highest incarceration rate, food insecurity on par with Indonesia, highest first day infant mortality rate, infrastructure behind every developed country in the world, 33rd in life expectancy, highest percentage of adult-onset diabetes, 2nd highest child poverty rate, and the highest proportion of low-wage workers in the developed world. It is true America is the richest nation on Earth, but by every other measure America is a third-world nation…

…This is the nation Republicans built with money from the Koch brothers’ and Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Club for Growth, and Wall Street that have spent the better part of two decades achieving the Koch brothers’ “vision of a transformed America.” The result of their transformation is increasing millions of Americans either wallowing in poverty or stuck in a downward spiral with no expectation of ever achieving anything more than “working poor” status with no more hope than not dying homeless. Sadly, a segment of the population, those most likely drowning in poverty and living in the Southern United States expedited the conservative’s plan by voting for Republicans because they promise to fight for religious freedom, guns, and preserving their European ancestors’ dream of a Christian wonderland…

Quest to restrict union fees targets three additional states

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Buoyed by recent successes in the Midwest, conservatives and business groups are targeting at least three additional states for new efforts that could weaken labor unions by ending their ability to collect mandatory bargaining fees.

The latest efforts are focused on Missouri, Ohio and Oregon and — in a new twist — could put the issue before voters in 2014 instead of relying on potentially reluctant governors to enact laws passed by state legislators…

…Supporters of such laws contend employees shouldn’t be forced to pay fees to a union to get or keep a job. But unions contend the fees are fair because federal law requires them to represent all employees in a bargaining unit regardless of whether they join the union.

Most state right-to-work laws were enacted in the 1940s and 1950s. But businesses and conservative lawmakers, working through groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, have mounted a new push as union membership has dwindled and the competition for jobs has intensified among states.

Indiana in 2012 became the first state in more than a decade to enact a right-to-work law. The movement’s biggest victory came later that year, when Republicans in the traditional union stronghold of Michigan followed suit even though thousands of union protesters thronged the Capitol…

The State Policy Network’s Cozy Relationship With Big Tobacco

The State Policy Network (SPN), a web of right-wing “think tanks” in every state across the country, has close ties with the tobacco industry. When tobacco companies like Reynolds American or Altria/Philip Morris want to avoid tobacco taxes and health regulations, reports by SPN groups in many states can help inspire local resistance.

SPN, its member affiliates, and SPN-related entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute,  continued to receive funding from the tobacco industry that has continued through at least 2012, according to Altria/Phillip Morris documentsThe Nation journalist Lee Fang previously reported that SPN relied on funding from the tobacco industry throughout the 1990s, and in return assisted the tobacco industry “in packaging its resistance to tobacco taxes and health regulations as part of a ‘freedom agenda’ for conservatives.”

During SPN President Tracie Sharp’s tenure at the Cascade Policy Institute (CPI, anSPN affiliate) from 1991 to 1999, Philip Morris state lobbyists worked hand-in-handwith CPI to oppose tobacco taxes…

5/09 ALEC Articles and News in Review

5/09 ALEC Articles and News in Review

Today’s stories related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch funded cabal ALEC fronts for.

Click on the headline of the article to view the entire story…

ALEC in Nevada spotlight

“For many years, the Nevada Legislature has paid $1,000 a year dues to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), just as it does to groups like the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments.

“But in the case of ALEC, the lawmakers were actually making a contribution of taxpayer dollars to a right wing political group.”

ALEC Exposed in Nevada – Nevada State Report on ALEC Legislation and Members

ALEC is not OK

“MORE THAN 600 protesters, the majority of them union members, turned out in Oklahoma City on May 2 to against a task force summit meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).”

Bank of America Faces Backlash Over Decision to Drop Free-Market Advocate and Helping to Label Voter Integrity Proponents as “Racist”

The National Center for Public Policy Research continues to criticize corporations, banks, financial institutions and non-profits who drop membership in ALEC.  BoA is the latest to come under fire from this right wing think tank on that issue.

 

Charlotte, NC / Washington, D.C. – At today’s annual Bank of America shareholder meeting in Charlotte, N.C., an attorney with the National Center for Public Policy Research criticized Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan for caving to left-wing race bullies and dropping its membership the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a venerable network of conservative state legislators.

 

Bank of America dumped ALEC after a concerted effort by Color of Change, Common Cause and the Occupy movement to defund ALEC by intimidating its corporate members.

 

NC renewable energy repeal advanced by committee despite losing vote

“Last week North Carolina’s Senate Finance Committee advanced a bill to repeal the state’s renewable energy standard in a controversial voice vote where the outcome was unclear.

“It turns out that if committee co-chair Bill Rabon (R-New Hanover) had actually counted the votes as Democrats requested, the measure would have lost. Rabon ignored calls for a show of hands.

“WRAL News interviewed the members of the committee who were present for the vote — 25 Republicans and 10 Democrats. All of the Democrats voted against the bill, and eight Republicans said they did as well. Two Republicans refused to say how they voted.

“That means the measure got 17 votes at most. It needed 18 to pass.”

Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti Stop Hesitating and Support Parent Trigger

Parent Trigger is a key legislative measure advanced by ALEC nationwide as part of their attacks upon public education.  Parent Trigger’s are used to turn public schools “around”…that is to turn them into charter schools run by private for-profit and non-profit companies and corporations.

Mayoral candidates in Los Angeles hesitated to endorse parent trigger, but just announced their support for the legislation.

“It took a while, but Los Angeles mayoral hopefuls Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel finally met with parents and students on Monday at Los Angeles Unified’s chronically failing 24th Street Elementary School, where the district’s first “Parent Trigger” took place.

“The Parent Trigger, which is viewed as a controversial yet unique education reform tool, allows parents to take over a chronically failing school through petition, which is what recently happened at 24th Street Elementary.

“While current L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa quickly supported the takeover at 24th Street, Garcetti and Greuel — especially Garcetti — hesitated. That’s all over now.

 

Deal on taxes and spending in Kansas could be near

“Lawmakers return to Topeka on Wednesday after a monthlong break with a deal just out of grasp to cut income taxes and balance the budget.

“Even with deeply rooted differences over renewing a sales-tax hike, key lawmakers say a bargain could crystallize as early as this weekend.

“I have been very optimistic all along,” said Rep. Richard Carlson, a St. Marys Republican and one of the key budget negotiators. “We intend to find an amicable solution that benefits all the taxpayers in Kansas.”

“Still, the shape of a solution remained unclear Tuesday after leadership teams from the House and Senate exchanged ideas in Oklahoma City. They’d met there at a conservative American Legislative Exchange Council conference last week.

“House Speaker Ray Merrick said three or four tax plans remained in play but declined to provide details.

Rep. Ray Merrick (R-27), is quite active in ALEC and a staunch member who serves as a State Chairman,[18] was ALEC’s “Legislator of the Year” in 2010,[3]  is an Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force member[19] , sits on the ALEC Board of Directors [20] and attended 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting[2].

OK gov. and legislators ponder next steps on state Medicaid program

“Some foes of the ACA, aka “Obamacare,” fear the Sooner State‘s leaders may be inclined to implement the president’s agenda indirectly. In a recent speech at the task force meeting for the American Legislative Exchange Council, Fallin reiterated her opposition to Obamacare Medicaid expansion, but said officials were working on a state reform that would involve waivers.” 

Raging Grannies Arrested After Fighting for Poor Kids

When elderly women get arrested for protesting, people pay attention.

That’s what happened on Monday in Durham, North Carolina.

More than 200 people from various organizations, including lawyers, students, preachers from across the state, physicians, leading historians, and a group of senior citizens known as the “Raging Grannies,” held a peaceful “pray-in” and “teach-in” at the statehouse to protest the Republican-controlled legislature’s agenda. The grannies even sung some anti-war and anti-poverty protest songs.

More than 30 people, including some of the Raging Grannies, were arrested during the protest.

Several of the bills that have gotten pushback from the Raging Grannies, and other groups, are similar to bills that have been introduced by Republicans in other Southern states, including Arkansas, South Carolina, and Louisiana.

Barber said many of the bills are pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a private conservative group backed by major corporations that proposes model legislation on an array of issues such as more vouchers and charter schools.

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.

 

 

 

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.”

 

FL Pension Changes Rooted in ALEC Model Legislation

FL Pension Changes Rooted in ALEC Model Legislation

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford

Overhauling the state pension system is a priority for Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-ALEC. (Photo courtesy of the Florida Legislature.)
A new plan that would overhaul the state’s pension system can be traced back to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, The Palm Beach Post reported this week.

State lawmakers are changing the current state pension plan by eliminating it for any new hires. Instead, new state employees would choose from private plans, which are already offered to state workers.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers and firefighters currently use the state retirement program. However, plans to change the system have been made a top priority by legislative leaders including Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-ALEC (Wesley Chapel). The plan has moved through the GOP-led state House quickly, but members still need to broker a deal to get the more politically moderate Florida Senate on board.

The Post reported this week that the plans also come from an interesting place.

According to the Post:

Critics trace the campaign back two years — to New Orleans, where dozens of Florida lawmakers gathered for a conference hosted by a controversial advocacy group that helps corporations and conservative interest groups write bills for legislatures across the country.

Jonathan Williams, a policy director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, told The Palm Beach Post that the organization’s three days of meetings in August 2011 helped affirm the need among many legislators to take a hard look at public employee benefits.

“The momentum for pension reform is stronger today because many governments are still seeing the effects of the recession on investment returns,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a long time before things improve. Florida legislators are aware of this.”

Following contentious debate, pitting union-allied Democrats against ruling Republicans, the House last week approved legislation (CS/HB 7011) that would close the Florida Retirement System’s traditional pension to new employees.

Workers hired after Jan. 1 could join only 401(k)-styled investment plans, which opponents say would leave the retirement funds of lower-income public workers subject to wild swings of the stock market.

ALEC is a mostly corporate?funded group that pushes corporate-friendly laws. ALEC has been behind a slew of anti-worker, anti-environmental and anti-regulation bills in the past few years. The group was also behind many of the more restrictive voting laws that caused problem in several states in the last election.

According to a 2012 report by Progress Florida, about a dozen bills have been introduced in the Florida Legislature that have based on ALEC’s model legislation. Some, such as Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, are on the books right now. Most Republicans in the state legislature are also dues-paying ALEC members.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This article is written by Ashley Lopez and is published at http://fcir.org/2013/03/27/florida-pension-changes-rooted-in-alec-model-legislation/

Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

 

Snyder Says Detroit Emergency Manager’s Personal Tax Liens are A-Okay

Snyder Says Detroit Emergency Manager’s Personal Tax Liens are A-Okay

This morning was my annual appointment with the CPA to figure my taxes. I use a CPA, not because my taxes are terribly complex, but because I want to be sure they are spot-on accurate. I like sleeping at night, and in the spirit of that bumper sticker: “I’m a grown-up, I pay my taxes”. Taxes aren’t fun, but I like to believe most Michiganders feel the same way.

Governor Snyder told reporters this morning that his new pick for Detroit Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr, is still a-okay with him in-spite of the recently uncovered tax liens on his Maryland home. The Associated Press reports that Snyder claimed his administration did a “very thorough job” in vetting the Emergency Manager candidate. He went on to say that now that this minor brouhaha is over, Orr can concentrate on the business of getting “Detroit going again“.

Of course, to millionaires like Snyder and Orr, thousands of dollars of unpaid taxes is mere sofa change. When the governor was running for office it was revealed that two of his venture capital firms incurred tax liens for not paying employee withholding and business taxes. At the time, Snyder’s campaign spun it as an “oversight”.

Admittedly, personal and corporate finances can be tricky, but they are nothing compared to the complexities found in the municipal world, especially a major city like Detroit. MSU Economics Professor Eric Scorsone, a top expert in the field of municipal finance, spearheaded the 12 hour training course for potential Emergency Managers. The Professor wiesly questions the wisdom of using corporate leaders for public sector debt restructuring projects. Scorsone admits that he finds the corporate executives he trained to have problems with transparency and the concept of open meetings, and that the private sector turn-around model does not translate to public sector needs. In his words, “It’s not a corporate world.”

Yet Snyder continues to pick tycoons and raiders that specialize in cut-back management, who operate without input or oversight, and think paying taxes is optional.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

democracy tree-vltp

Corporations Agree to Disclose Political Spending

The Center for Political Accountability announces that engagement has led to six corporations agreeing to adopt political disclosure and accountability, while a shareowner resolution at Visa gains significant support.

SocialFunds.com — Last year, the Center for Political Accountability (CPA) announced that the number of public corporations agreeing to disclose their political expenditures had reached 100. More than half of the companies are listed on the S&P 100.

As reported here in late November, it now appears that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering a rule requiring that “public companies provide disclosure to shareholders regarding the uses of corporate resources for political activities,” according to Paula Dubberly, a Deputy Director of the Division of Corporation Finance at the SEC. However, sustainable investors and other advocates are not simply waiting for a rule to materialize; CPA reports that more than 50 resolutions were filed with corporations this proxy season, requesting that they adopt political disclosure and board oversight.

It’s also apparent companies themselves are acknowledging reality, as not only the number of resolutions but the vote totals as well continue to rise. At Visa’s annual general meeting this week, for instance, 37% of shareowners votes in support of a resolution requesting that the financial services company disclose all payments used for lobbying purposes, including payments to trade associations.

The resolution, co-filed by Boston Common Asset Management and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), stated, “Public opinion is skeptical of corporate influence on Congress and public policy and questionable lobbying activity may pose risks to our company’s reputation when controversial positions are embraced.”

At Visa’s annual meeting, Meredith Benton of Boston Common said, “We commend Visa for initiating enhanced disclosure.”

“We persist, though, in bringing this proposal to ballot as the company has not yet contemplated any disclosure to shareholders on lobbying spending connected with trade associations or other tax exempt organizations,” Benton continued.

Also this week, CPA announced that six corporations avoided having resolutions on political spending come to a vote by agreeing to adopt disclosure and accountability. Boeing and Mylan, a pharmaceutical company, came to agreement after resolutions during last year’s proxy season gained significant support. KeyCorp, Harley-Davidson, Deere & Co., and AmerisourceBergen also agreed to disclosure of political expenditures.

“The companies have agreed to disclose their direct corporate political contributions, indirect political spending through trade associations and other groups such as ‘social welfare’ 501(c)(4)s and to implement board oversight,” CPA stated.

The withdrawn resolutions, which were based on the CPA model, were filed by Investor Voice, the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters General Fund, and William Zessar.

“Hidden political spending soared off the charts in the 2012 elections, but a steadily increasing number of American companies are choosing an alternative, the Center’s model for disclosure and board oversight of corporate political spending,” said CPA President Bruce Freed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Social FundsThis article was written by Robert Kropp, and is published at http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/3739.html

State Legislature to Consider Raising Taxes on 80% of North Carolinians – Updated

editor’s note:  We would like to extend our thanks to Alexandra Forter Sirota of the NC Justice Center, who took the time not only to read our re-posted article, but to let us know that the graph used in the report had been updated by the NC Budget and Tax Center.  Aside from just adding both to my daily RSS feeds, this updated article includes their updated graph.

 

North Carolina State Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) (R-ALEC) is indicating that the preferred “Tax Overhaul” which will be put before the legislature by the Republican majority and designed by Art Pope’s (R-ALEC 1995) Civitas Institute will eliminate most corporate taxes, do away with personal income taxes, and raise sales/consumption taxes to as much as 8.5%. According to a study by The North Carolina Justice Center released last week, one of the effects of this change would be to raise the taxes of a family of four earning $24,000.00 a year (the Federal poverty line) by $500.00 and give those making over $1 million are year a $41,000.00 tax cut. The plan eliminates the personal income, corporate income and franchise taxes, which, combined, generate $12 billion in revenue for North Carolina schools, infrastructure and other public priorities. The revenue loss would be replaced via a higher sales tax that would cover more goods and services, a business license fee and a real estate transaction fee.

For North Carolina’s top 20% of North Carolina’s wage earners the change in the tax code would be a major financial boom while the remaining 80% comprised of the working class and the working poor would bear the brunt of the new burden.
Civitas-Laffer Plan Increases Taxes for Middle- and Low-Income Taxpayers

The plan, called the Civitas/Laffer Plan after billionaire Art Pope’s Civitas Institute and an economist named Arthur Laffer (ALEC “Scholar”), who was on Ronald Reagan’s Economic Advisory Board where he championed the (proven wrong) philosophy of Supply Side Economics. The Civitas/Laffer Plan, if implemented, would do the following:

  • Eliminate the personal income tax, which generated $10.3 billion during fiscal year 2011-12.
  • Eliminate the corporate income tax, which generated $1.1 billion.
  • Eliminate the business franchise tax, which applies to businesses that are incorporated in North Carolina and generated $650 million.
  • Raise the state sales tax to 6.53 % from 4.75 % and expand it to include currently exempt goods, as well as services that are currently not taxed. The plan purports that the sales tax would generate an additional $7.6 billion.
  • Create a real estate transaction fee that would apply a 1 % tax on the total value of commercial and real estate transactions when they are transferred, which would raise an estimated $390 million according to the plan.
  • Implement a business license fee that would apply to businesses based on their earnings, assets and losses, with a minimum fee of $500, which would raise an estimated $4 billion.

Opponents of the plan and organizations such as the NC Justice Center contend that the negative effects of implementing the Civitas/Laffer plan would be:

  • Will not raise enough revenue to meet North Carolina’s current and future needs.
  • It is most generous to the wealthiest North Carolinians while raising taxes on
  • middle-income households.
  • Its structure threatens the state’s ability to respond to changing economic conditions.

Thom Tillis with gavelThe plan comes as no surprise to those who have followed the recent career of General assembly Speaker Thom Tillis (R-ALEC). In 2011 Tillis was named ALEC’s (American Legislative Executive Council) Legislator of the Year. Also in 2011 ALEC released their “Tax Commandments” which included the “commandment” to ALEC legislators to:

First, thou shalt keep taxes low.
Second, thou shalt reduce taxes on income and wealth.
Third, thou shalt keep marginal tax rates low and relatively uniform.

ALEC has since scrubbed these “commandments” from the internet, but they no doubt had an effect on ALEC legislators like Tillis. One of ALEC’s (and many Conservatives) contentions is that lowering corporate and income taxes will spur economic growth. According to the study done by the NC Justice Center:

There is no evidence of a direct relationship between top tax rates and economic or job growth. According to a 2012 study by the Congressional Research Service. Moreover, states that Laffer himself has termed “high income tax states” turn out to have economic conditions comparable to, if not better than, states that do not have a personal income tax, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

In fact, states with low income tax rates actually have lower employment growth and lower median household income than Laffer’s designated high-tax states according to a recent study by Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project.

Furthermore, the industry composition in a state has a greater impact on a state’s economic performance. Similarly, an educated workforce, the presence of research centers like major universities and other knowledge factors boost per capita income growth. Accordingly, states will likely suffer in the long run because they lack the resources needed to invest in education and other building blocks of economic growth.

Wednesday morning at an event in Chapel Hill, state Budget Director and Civitas financier Art Pope told reporters that he doesn’t think that eliminating personal and corporate taxes would not be a “good idea”. This after Pope’s Civitas Institute has been promoting an article titled, “Why All U.S. States Should Eliminate The Income Tax.”

Also Wednesday Thom Tillis muddied the water further mixing the messages when according to News 14 he told small businessmen in Charlotte:

“If we can get to a point to where we no longer have a corporate and personal income tax that would be great,” he said. “The devil’s in the details in how you get there.”

While it is not clear exactly what any final legislation will look like, it appears that the State Legislature is heading in the direction of raising taxes on 80% of North Carolina’s population. Governor Pat McCrory is yet to make a statement to indicate his Administration’s position on the tax raise. Art Pope is an art popeAdministration official, however, and it is possible that his statements reflect the position of the McCrory Administration in spite of Pope’s financial sponsorship of the Civitas Institute.

 

 Art Pope (photo)

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This article was posted at the Camel City Dispatch, at http://www.camelcitydispatch.com/state-legislature-to-consider-raising-taxes-on-80-of-north-carolinians/    It was the best written explanation I found of the Civitas-Laffer plan using the data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

To read the entire Budget and Tax Center report on the Civitas-Laffer Tax Plan, please click here

 

ALEC Alumni Pushing “Electricity Freedom Act” in OH and VA

ALEC Alumni Pushing “Electricity Freedom Act” in OH and VA

Over the past couple weeks, fossil fuel interests and their allies have ramped up attacks on clean energy on the state level. As the Washington Post reported in November, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a alecfossilfuelfundersfossil fuel-funded advocacy group, has made it a priority to eliminate clean energy standards across the country.

From the East Coast to the Southwest, ALEC members, alumni and operatives are moving full steam ahead to eliminate clean energy projects and the policies that support them.  However, not all of these attacks are coming from ALEC members sitting in state legislatures.  In Ohio and Virginia, former ALEC legislators, now in other positions, are driving anti-clean energy attacks. Below is part one of our series this week on former ALEC legislators spearheading fossil fuel-funded attacks on the clean energy industry.

 VIRGINIA

Two weeks ago, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a former ALEC legislator, struck an agreement with Dominion, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., to support legislation effectively eliminating the state’s voluntary clean energy standard. According to the Associated Press, under the agreement, the power companies would no longer have the same financial incentives for using sources of renewable energy in Virginia. Without a legally-binding clean energy standard, killing the financial incentives of the law would stop big utilities from investing in new sources of energy (editor’s note:  This is ALEC’s “Electricity Freedom Act”, as reported here), especially when they can keep profiting off of old coal-fired power plants.

So why is the Attorney General Cuccinelli working to stop clean energy in Virginia? There’s one thing that might show his hand. Attorney General Cuccinelli is running for Governor of Virginia in the 2013 election, and has received over $100,000 from fossil fuel energy interests for his campaign (and over $400,000 from dirty energy interests since 2001) including:

  • $50,000 from David H. Koch, co-owner of Koch Industries, a major fossil fuel conglomerate.
  • $25,000 from Consol Energy, a coal and natural gas producer.
  • $10,000 from Alpha Natural Resources, a coal mining and processing company.
  • $10,000 from Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utility companies.
  • $10,000 from Dominion, one of the largest electric utility companies.
  • $10,000 from Koch Industries, a major fossil fuel conglomerate.

The Attorney General’s office claims that he sought to eliminate the standard because it allowed utilities to buy renewable energy certificates from existing facilities rather than build new clean energy in the state of Virginia. Dominion charged ratepayers $77 million as part of the clean energy law, without building a single clean energy project in the state.

 

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at an event sponsored by the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.

But, Mike Tidwell, of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), which has worked with lawmakers to propose several bills to improve the incentive program, said that, “The standard is flawed; but there’s a clear way to fix that.” CCAN is working with Delegate Alfonso Lopez to propose a solution that would require Dominion to invest in wind and solar projects in Virginia in order to qualify for financial incentives.

But instead of trying to fix the renewable energy standard, Mr. Cuccinelli is advocating for the elimination of clean energy incentives while also raking in over $100,000 dollars from fossil fuel interests for his gubernatorial campaign. This clear conflict of interest is compounded by the fact that Mr. Cuccinelli was a member of ALEC, which has publicly stated eliminating clean energy laws as one of its goals for 2013. And, it is Mr. Cuccinelli’s fossil fuel donors, most of which are corporate members of ALEC, that stand to profit from killing clean energy laws and slowing the growth of the clean energy economy.

Instead of fighting for Virginia families and small businesses, it appears that Mr. Cuccinnelli is more concerned with the interests of his big, fossil fuel donors. It’s probably a good indication of how he’ll run the state from the governor’s mansion.

OHIO

In Ohio, no legislation has been proposed to rollback the state’s “Alternative Energy Resource Standard,” yet. But three weeks ago, former ALEC legislator Todd Snitchler, now Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), and two other commissioners, decided to squash a solar power plant proposed by American Electric Power (AEP) – a move that seems to correlate with ALEC’s agenda to stop the growth of the clean energy market.

AEP planned to build the Turning Point solar power plant, a 50 MW solar power plant comprised of panels from a factory in Ohio. The company planned this project to comply with the requirements of the renewable energy standard according to the PUCO opinion and order. Ohio’s clean energy law calls for 12.5% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy resources by 2025.

Todd Snitchler, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, with Governor John Kasich. Both politicians are ALEC alumni.

One of the primary opponents arguing against the solar plant in front of the PUCO was FirstEnergy Solutions, an electric utility (that generates 72% of its electricity from fossil fuels) and a major donor to Governor John Kasich, another ALEC alumnus.  Gov. Kasich received over $600,000 from oil, gas and mining interests for his 2010 election campaign and in early 2011, Gov. Kasich appointed Mr. Snitchler to chair the PUCO.

Mr. Snitchler and the two other Republican commissioners voting to stop the Turning Point solar plant disregarded Public Utilities Commission of Ohio staff experts who stated that the project was necessary to comply with the state’s renewable energy standard.

Mr. Snitchler’s Twitter traffic affirms his ideological disdain for clean energy. He consistently attacked clean energy technology and the legitimacy of climate science (ignoring the Pope, United States Military, and every national academy of science in the world) according to a Columbus Dispatch analysis of his twitter traffic over the past year.

With anti-clean energy ALEC alumni in powerful positions in Ohio, pro-clean energy advocates must work to stop attempted rollbacks of the state’s clean energy standard in the state legislature or face a grim future in the Buckeye state.

editor’s note:  all emphasis in the article is mine.

This article has been re-named and re-posted from The Checks and Balances Project (Holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public).  The original title is ALEC Attacks Clean Energy Standards: Ohio & Virginia, and can be found at http://checksandbalancesproject.org/2013/01/30/alec-attack-clean-energy-standards-ohio-virginia/