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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.”

Mitt Romney Energy Plan Robs Taxpayers – Video

Big Oil…strings attached to campaign donations,,,Koch Brothers’ influence?  Any time someody says Big Oil needs subsidies–It just doesn’t smell right. Drilling in our National and State Parks. Smells like ALEC DNA to me.  But that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

“After raising nearly $10 million in Texas oil money in two days, Mitt Romney announces an energy plan on the Texas -New Mexico border later today that includes billions of dollars in giveaways to industry contributors. Romney will call for extensive expansion of oil and gas drilling — including along the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas — and eliminating most federal safety and environmental standards that govern the development of energy resources on our public lands...”.

The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down as you can watch by clicking here.

The Cabal Exposed

This is a series of articles published by Truthout which reports on “The Other ALECs”.  A great deal of time and research is evident in these reports, and while some of the claims made in the articles do not match our research findings–I’m sure that these differences will be examined soon–we want you to read these articles to see how ALEC is just one member of what we have been calling The Cabal

The Other ALECs: A Look at the Lesser Known Stealth Lobbies That Write Bills for Your State
“other stealth lobbyists have penetrated bipartisan trade associations for state government officials – groups subsidized by taxpayers. In particular, corporate lobbies advance their agendas through the Council of State Governments – whose multimillion-dollar budget is mostly taxpayer funded – and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Through these innocuously named organizations, lobbyists exploit a well-tethered network of nonprofits representing state-level officials to advance the agendas of their corporate clientele.”

Part 1: Uncovering the Other ALECs
The Other Bill Mill – The Council for State Gpvernment (CSG). 
Upon being sworn into office, all state-level legislators (there are about 7,500 of them total), as well as their respective legislative staffs, automatically become CSG members. The organization’s membership also includes representatives from the executive and judicial branches of state governments.

The National Conference of State Legislatures NCSL, considered an “instrumentality of the states” by the IRS, has served a “forum for America’s Ideas since 1975.” NCSL plays host to a series of educational conferences and task force meetings, and like its cousin, CSG, it boasts a membership that includes every state-level elected official in the United States.

Though not directly responsible for any policy positions, per se, the State Legislative Leaders Foundation(SLLF) says that it is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established in 1972 for the express purpose of providing our nation’s state legislative leaders with information on critical public policy issues and aspects of leadership.”

Part 2: Exposed: The Other ALECs’ Corporate Playbook
Founded in 1988, Stateside is self-described as the “industry leader” in state and local governmental affairs counseling. The company’s home pagetempts potential clients with a program that “transcends the conventional categories” of lobbying. The page further explains: “State and local government relations – done well – protects the bottom line, promotes brand awareness, builds champions among policymakers and safeguards the ability of corporations and associations to succeed.”  A lobbying behemoth – the self-proclaimed largest firm of its kind – Stateside has enough tricks up its sleeve to tackle even the most difficult, and often delicate, lobbying cases.

The niche of stealth lobbying is so profitable that in addition to Stateside, other firms also participate. One is MultiState Associates. This firm, founded four years before Stateside in 1984, employs the same overall strategy of using the Groups to promote corporate agendas.  MultiState offers a flexible, “full range” program to respond to the changing needs of corporate clients.

Sometimes even the best stealth lobbyists need a little help from like-minded friends.  For this, they turn to lobbyist trade associations like the State Government Affairs Council (SGAC). SGAC is a private organization, fully funded by contributions from the private sector. Over 182 multinational corporations and/or their affiliated trade associations paid for a SGAC membership in 2012.

What we at VLTP call ALEC DNA, is replicated by “The Playbook”, the M.O. for these “Other ALECs”.

Step One: Fund Groups
Step Two: Representation on Group Boards, Task Forces
Step Three
Set a pro-business Education Agenda
Step Four
: Schmooze
Step Five: Model Legislation
Step Six: Model Bills Distributed Nationwide

Part 3: How Big Business Has Triumphed in State Legislatures on Civil Liberties, Higher Education and Energy

Many people concerned about these policies, though, may not realize that the assault on the civil liberties of dissenters in the United States in some instances pre-dated the post-9/11 era. Many also do not realize that a number of recent policies that undermine civil liberties have been advanced through state governments and not just federal agencies.  Left off the table, probably accidentally: who defines “terrorism” and what his/her/the organization’s agenda is, the motives behind labeling a group or person a terrorist (and leaving other people or groups off the list), and how malleable the term has been, as Greenwald pointed out, since its popularization in the United States in the 1980s under then-President Ronald Reagan.

The Other ALECs’ higher education agenda goes well beyond performance standards and delves into the sphere of student loan debt and the privatization of public universities.

Last December, ALEC adopted model legislation, based on a Texas law, addressing the public disclosure of chemicals in drilling fluids used to extract natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The ALEC legislation, which has since provided the basis for similar bills submitted in five states, has been promoted as a victory for consumers’ right to know about potential drinking water contaminants. This bill was a CSG model months before it became an ALEC model.

The CSG agenda goes above and beyond the actual promotion of the production of dirty energy resources like fracking and ethanol and into the promotion of the burial of carbon into the ground in a process known as carbon sequestration, sometimes also referred to by propagandists as “clean coal.” Put more bluntly: this model bill was written by the oil and gas industry, for the oil and gas industry.

Part 4: The Other ALECs’ K-12 Education Agenda Exposed  The economic crisis has created a rationale for ALEC and other stealth lobbyists to push privatization campaigns while claiming that they are necessary “reforms” for improving our failing education system, according to Brian Jones, a teacher and New York-based activist featured in the education documentary “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.”  “For the charter operators, ‘reform’ means more money, bigger salaries, etc. For the politicians, it means they get to shout to working and poor people about how they’re reforming education, while doing a huge favor to wealthy, powerful interests,” Jones told Truthout.

The Gates Foundation alone gave $400,000 to a CSG program dedicated to “reforming” public education and pushing charter schools. Gates also financially supports a CSG initiative to collaborate with Boeing to create “fair and reliable measures of teacher effectiveness that are tied to gains in student achievement.” None of these contributions even account for Microsoft’s sizable donations to CSG.

 

CSG’s “Model” for Public Education
Charter Schools;
Teacher Tenure/Education Identifier Initiatives;
Innovation Zones

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.  To read the entire Truthout series on The Other ALECs, they may be found at the following links:

http://truth-out.org/news/item/10506-the-other-alecs-a-look-at-the-lesser-known-stealth-lobbies-that-write-bills-for-your-state%20%E2%80%A6

http://truth-out.org/news/item/9033-subverting-the-statehouse-uncovering-the-other-alecs

http://truth-out.org/news/item/9889-exposed-the-other-alecs-corporate-playbook

http://truth-out.org/news/item/10316-how-big-business-has-trumped-the-peoples-will-in-state-legislatures-on-civil-liberties-higher-education-and-energy-policy

http://truth-out.org/news/item/10435-the-other-alecs-k-12-education-agenda-exposed



U.S. Grants a Keystone Pipeline Permit

“Further acquiescence to Koch Industries which is the main beneficiary of this environmental time bomb”–Ron

In January, President Obama denied TransCanada permission to build the northern part of the pipeline from Canada to Oklahoma, saying Congress had not given him sufficient time to review the environmental impact. But at a political appearance in March in Oklahoma, he announced he was taking steps to speed approval of the portion of the project running from Cushing to the gulf to relieve a bottleneck in oil supplies at the Oklahoma oil terminal.

To read more about the Obama administration’s disregard for the environment, please click here