michigan

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…

05/08 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

05/08 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

By Bob Sloan

ALEC’s Latest “Transparency” Move: Asserting Immunity From Freedom of Information Laws

ALEC Assembles “Most Wanted” List, and Oklahomans Say “ALEC Is Not OK”

SD Legislators Spend Thousands On Travel

SIOUX FALLS, SD – 

Over the past five years, South Dakota taxpayers have spent more than $360,000 for lawmakers to attend out-of-state meetings.

The latest trip was this weekend. More than a dozen Republicans traveled to Oklahoma City for a summit hosted by the conservative-leaning American Legislative Exchange Council known as ALEC.

One of the state co-chairs of ALEC says no tax dollars will be spent on the latest meeting because it’s considered a task force meeting and paid through fundraisers.

However, Democrats are still criticizing the recent approval of tax dollars to pay for ALEC dues and trips even though the state has spent much more on travel expenses for other organizations.

 

Private conservative group ALEC carries sway in legislature

RALEIGH — One bill protects a Fortune 500 company from costly asbestos lawsuits. Another shields food companies from obesity-related liability claims.

North Carolina lawmakers advocating the measures during a recent committee meeting touted how many other states had approved or considered similar measures. It’s good public policy, they argued, and now it’s North Carolina’s turn.

What didn’t get mentioned is the organization that helped coordinate the effort and draft the bills: the American Legislative Exchange Council, a largely private conservative group backed by major corporations that proposes model legislation for like-minded lawmakers to introduce across the country.

Despite being shunned by many of its members amid controversy a year ago, ALEC continues to exert substantial influence in North Carolina. House Speaker Thom Tillis is a national board member, and former Rep. Fred Steen, the past state ALEC chairman, is Gov. Pat McCrory’s legislative lobbyist.

ALEC FINGERPRINTS

A handful of bills filed by N.C. lawmakers include passages with identical language to model legislation supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization criticized for its close ties to businesses that help write the measures. Here are a few examples:

• Charter schools: Senate Bill 337 creates an independent board to manage charter schools and includes paragraphs near-verbatim to ALEC’s Charter School Growth with Quality Act. It goes for a full Senate vote Tuesday.

• Asbestos: The measure is designed to insulate one company, Philadelphia-based Crown Holdings, from asbestos exposure lawsuits related to a former subsidiary. An ALEC measure pushed by the company matches North Carolina’s House Bill 415 and efforts in other states. A House Judiciary committee heard testimony Wednesday but did not take a vote.

• Obesity lawsuits: The Commonsense Consumption Act is much like an ALEC measure by the same name. It shields food companies from lawsuits related to obesity and weight gain. A House Judiciary committee heard the bill Wednesday but took no action.

• State sovereignty: House Resolution 617 to express support for the state’s rights under the 10th Amendment includes large portions verbatim from an ALEC resolution to “restate state sovereignty.” The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Larry Pittman, a Concord Republican, and others, is sitting in the House Rules committee.

• Anti-union: North Carolina law restricts unions, but lawmakers want to put it in the state constitution. House Bill 6 sponsored by Speaker Thom Tillis is similar to an ALEC “Right to Work” measure and includes some of the same language. The bill is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday.

Exposing ALEC’s Agenda to Defund and Dismantle Public Education

I recently watched: The United States of ALEC.

This film, featuring Bill Moyers, does a masterful job of explaining how the closed-door manipulations of the American Legislative Exchange Council and its corporate lobbyists affect public policy in every realm of our society — including education.

Our nation spends about $500 billion in local, state and federal funds on public schools from kindergarten through high school. Most Americans view this as a wise investment in our nation’s future. Throughout the 20th century the U.S. was the clear leader in public education. We created the most vibrant economy the world has ever known. The record speaks for itself — public education is a great investment.

State Renewable Energy Policy Developments – April Recap

 Media coverage of renewable energy developments at the state level continued to center on the efforts led by the Koch Brothers-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to try and weaken, repeal, or “repeal-by-weaken” renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) in a couple dozen of the 29 states plus Washington, D.C. that have them.

There are several, perhaps less well known, positive developments too.

The figure below from a recent report by Justin Barnes and Chelsea Barnes of Keyes, Fox & Wiedman, LLP, categorizing active legislative proposals as either ‘strengthening’ or ‘weakening’ state RPSs, provides what I think is a more accurate and more complete picture of what is going on with clean energy in state legislatures. (The starred states denote the four states with in-depth reviews further down this posting.)

US States 2013 RPS legislative activity map (Barnes, J. 2013)

ALEC’s guy is Thom Tillis

Curious, it seems. N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis headed off recently to the spring conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council in Oklahoma City. It’s a national group funded mainly by large corporations that advocates for conservative causes and even takes the step of helping lawmakers of a like mind in various states draft laws.

ALEC, as it’s known, has provided language for bills that’s even been used this session in North Carolina, ranging from creating an independent board to take charter school governance away from the State Board of Education to protecting a Philadelphia-based company from lawsuits involving asbestos exposure to installing an anti-union amendment in the state constitution. Closer to home, the Civitas Institute, a conservative group, used ALEC literature in an indoctrination…er, training…session for freshman lawmakers.

This “Partnership” is the Gun Pointed at the Heart of Democracy

There’s a gun pointed at the heart of representative democracy, and your Congressperson has their finger on the trigger.

It’s called the American Legislative Exchange Council-or ALEC for short.

And while its name may sound perfectly harmless, it’s the single reason why your vote no longer matters.

You see, due to the influence wielded by this mysterious group, elected officials have become little more than high-paid rubber stamps.

As for representation, thanks to ALEC, you don’t really have any.

 

Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Ed. Policy in U.S.

“In statehouses and cities across the country, battles are raging over the direction of education policy—from the standards that will shape what students learn to how test results will be used to judge a teacher’s performance…

“…Even as antipathy to the common core fosters some otherwise unlikely alignments, support for charter schools and so-called “parent trigger” laws brings together many Democrats and Republicans in the name of more choice and power for parents.

The lineup on the side of such proposals includes long-standing and new advocacy groups like Stand for ChildrenDemocrats for Education Reform, and StudentsFirst(founded by former District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee). And it features such influential conservative groups as the American Legislative Exchange Council.

 

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.”

 

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

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

By Bob Sloan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

virtualschoolssmall

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continuing Education and Privatization Disclosures in MI. Reveal “Skunks” at Work – Including ALEC

Continuing Education and Privatization Disclosures in MI. Reveal “Skunks” at Work – Including ALEC

An analysis of two recent articles from Michigan and why they are ALEC-related.

Analysis by Bob Sloan

Logo     ALEC’s attention to America’s education “reform” is focused and advancing state by state as they promote privatization of public school systems.  Vouchers, “parent trigger”, long distance learning, “vitrual schools” and a “Public-Private Fair Competition Act” are all ALEC model legislative bills.

    What all these “bills” have in common of late is that all of them are submitted, sponsored and supported by conservative Republican lawmakers from coast to coast…another commonality of late is that most of them can be found swirling ominously through the Michigan statehouse.

    Now Michiganders have discovered a secret group of individuals working to advance these ALEC-styled legislative franken-bills behind closed doors with members of Governor Snyder’s staff.  Members of this secretive cabal have dubbed their group the “Skunk Works”, referring to defense contractor Lockheed Martin’s secret program under the same name that developed fighter planes during and after World War II.  An article published Friday by the Detroit News reported on this strange development.

Lansing — A secret work group that includes top aides to Gov. Rick Snyder has been meeting since December to develop a lower-cost model for K-12 public education with a funding mechanism that resembles school vouchers.

“The education reform advisory team has dubbed itself a “skunk works” project working outside of the government bureaucracy and education establishment with a goal of creating a “value school” that costs $5,000 per child annually to operate, according to meeting minutes and reports obtained by The Detroit News.

What are some of pursuits of these group?

…explore using fewer teachers and more instruction through long-distance video conferencing. Each “value school” student would receive a “Michigan Education Card” to pay for their “tuition” — similar to the electronic benefits transfer used to distribute food stamps and cash assistance for the poor.

Students could use leftover money on the “EduCard” for high school Advanced Placement courses, music lessons, sport team fees, remedial education or cyber courses, according to an outline of the advisory team’s agenda…

“…ideology and political agenda of the creation of a for-profit and parallel enterprise market for schools. Part of its goal is to take down the education establishment: superintendents, school boards and teachers unions.

It appears this panel of Skunks were formed in December in response to failed GOP legislation related to charter schools:

“The panel’s quiet proceedings began in mid-December after GOP lawmakers abandoned controversial legislation in the lame-duck session that would have allowed corporations, municipalities and cultural institutions to run charter schools.

Who are some of the members of this education cabal? Besides Governor Snyder’s chief information officer, David Behen, who leads the group most are from the information technology field:

“The group consists of nearly 20 individuals, mostly from the information technology field, including Behen and the state’s chief technology officer, Rod Davenport. The group includes employees from the software and tech companies Vectorform in Royal Oak, InfoReady in Ann Arbor and Billhighway in Troy. Also involved is Tim Cook of the Huizenga Group, a Grand Rapids firm that owns and operates West Michigan manufacturing companies.”

Another member is well known Lansing attorney, Richard McLellan who has so far unsuccessfully pursued installing a school voucher system in Michigan to allow parents to use choose between private and public schools — with state tax dollars – something prohibited by the Michigan Constitution.  McLellan helped draft such legislation and proposed sweeping changes in November to the way Michigan schools are funded. McLellan is a director at the Oxford Foundation, which developed that plan at Snyder’s request.  He is also a co-founding member of the Koch funded Mackinac Center, another conservative think tank that has been pursuing similar efforts of privatizing Michigan’s public education.

Interesting note to the “plan” memo linked to immediately above…McLellan insisted that the Project “be conducted with maximum transparency.”  He apparently decided that such transparency would not be so “maximum” or sought at all with regard to the project involving the skunk works.  This group is so secretive, they were instructed to use alternative email accounts when corresponding.  “In January, participants were instructed in a memo to use “alternative” email accounts. Records show Behen, Davenport and two other Department of Technology, Management and Budget employees have since used private email addresses to correspond.”

‘McLellan said the other participants are justified in using private emails. “Well, they should,” he said. “It’s not a government project.  Isn’t a skunk works by definition unorganized, backroom?” he asked rhetorically.’

“Why are we using private email addresses? Because it’s just easier,” Behen said. “There’s nothing secret or anything about this.”

 

This panel originally included one educator, Paul Galbenski, Michigan’s 2011 Educator of the Year.  Galbenski left the group when he discovered the cabal “discussing a special kind of school being created outside of the Michigan public school system,” and began questioning his own involvement with such a group.

Galbenski was the only educator even briefly chosen to be on the panel.  A memo of the group stated that they wanted to avoid working with education consultants who are “wedded to the education establishment.

Behen said he “purposely didn’t put a bunch of teachers on (the panel)” to generate a different approach to delivering K-12 education through rapidly changing technology.

Michigan officials and authorities representing Governor Snyder and a private “foundation” and think tank such as Mackinac, have been found working secretly to completely alter the state’s education system – without any input from educators or educational consultants.  What could possibly go wrong?

So, here’s how this trick is supposed to work, for those of you in other states who would like to attempt something similar… You defund education to the point of collapse, and, then, pointing to the inevitable failure, you make the case that the only option left available is to essentially hand the whole thing over to corporate America. And you bring in an anti-public education operative with ties to ALEC and the Koch Brothers, hiding behind the facade of a pro-education foundation with “Oxford” in its name, so that it sounds super smart, to support and adopt the whole enchilada.

In a related article from Progress Michigan, ALEC member MI. Rep. Greg MacMaster introduced a bill copied and pasted from the “Public-Private Fair Competition Act,” adopted by ALEC’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and approved by ALEC’s Board of Directors in January 1995.

“The bill would prohibit public entities from competing against the private sector, and its definitions are so restrictive that it would allow corporations to take the state to court and force it to stop providing valuable public services. ALEC’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force includes the Tax Foundation (funded by the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil), The Mackinac Center’s Richard Vedder, and other State Policy Network-funded groups including the Freedom Foundation, Goldwater Institute, and the Illinois Policy Institute.

If this legislation were to pass – along with the education initiatives proposed by ALEC, Mackinac Center, Oxford Foundation, etc. – Michigan’s education system would be privatized and fall under this provision.  The private “educators” would be able to sue any remaining state operated schools to force them into privatization.  Not only take the school system out of the hands of the state but force taxpayers to foot the bill for any litigation costs associated with “providing public services”…such as education.

ALEC is the legislative arm of this huge conservative, Koch-funded cabal.  Perhaps Michigan today presents us with the best and clearest example of both the agenda and mechanisms utilized by this network to wrench control, oversight and operations involving public services out of the hands of state government. The goal is to get their greedy hands on tax dollars being spent for education and other necessary services and divert much of that money to profits realized by ALEC’s corporate partners.

Just as Nevada is now ground zero for the war against prison labor displacing workers under ALEC’s Prison Industries Act, Michigan is now at the center regarding attempts to privatize education, utilizing another of ALEC’s models.

Detroit: The Final Solution?

Detroit: The Final Solution?

What remained of democracy in Detroit has now been usurped under corporatist rule by Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder.

Atty. Kevyn Duane Orr (55)...

Atty. Kevyn Duane Orr (55)…

Snyder, a venture-capitalist CPA who made his $millions as a Gateway board-director and other enterprises that exported jobs overseas, has appointed Attorney Kevyn Orr to lead point in the latest phase of the corporatist plan: America, Inc. More →

Detroit’s Dictatorship…

Detroit’s Dictatorship…

By Dr. Publico – Repost from American tribune

The corporate criminals now ruling Detroit hardly bother disguising their intent any longer. For them it’s open class war and most of the victims are clueless as to the source of their social and political impoverishment.

William-Livingstone-House-0051-300x231

From time to time, as capital-corporatism is confronted with its own Ponzi-like profiteering, these privateers either accept a compromise from their unbridled predatory practice or seek to place the full burden of their theft on the “lower” classes. Today, they’re going for the Full Monte…again.

Without information (public education and an independent media) class consciousness of corporatist predation is mixed.

Six corporations own and control over 90% of the media. Their overall strategy is eminently successful at convincing and confusing the role between gov’t and business, two entirely different enterprises with vastly different goals. There’s always been systemic tension between democratic and corporate rule.

The fact of such tyranny is nothing new to human relations; alpha-male/sociopathic rule has plagued humankind from the beginning of civilization; it comes with the territory.

What worked for our hominid forebears in primeval conditions is applied today to the privileged role of a ruling elite over the rest of humankind. As Pogo discovered: “We’ve met the enemy and he is us” (assuming of course that by “us” one includes an infected or cancerous appendage).

Republican-Tea-Party-300x206An anthropologist would observe that while class rule has served a survival and socio-technological role in human socio-political development, such relations are increasingly becoming the problem, not the solution.

Heretofore, such systems met their destiny thru either self-destruction in competition with other systems (usually the more predatory one winning), or thru resistance and revolution by those being exploited. Competition having been all but foreclosed by corporate-state power, I’d guess only revolution or our mutual self-destruction remains.

In any event, if fascist-corporatism “wins,” it will destroy the planet thru its own systemic dynamics, there being little left to stop it. As the super-technology of science is being increasingly exploited around the world to privatize war for corporate profit and rule, all that tech comes home to control its own populations.

What’s left of the nation’s neo-liberal leadership still believes that appeasing these sociopaths is a viable strategy (assuming that they’re not simply junior partners). The corporatist strategy remains demand, demand, demand. They know that appeasers will ALWAYS capitulate “a little bit.”

Obama’s history shows that his end-strategy to power-conflict resolution has been to always side with corporate conservatives, assuming the continued support of his own liberal base (figuring: Where else can they go?).19GpOb.SlMa_.911-2-300x238

As a thought experiment, one might wonder what he would do should his opposition demand that he be castrated (which, metaphorically, is the case).

After his initial shock, what would be his position? Negotiate for an inch? Hey, ‘Bam, here’s a pregnant idea: How ’bout just a quarter inch…off the back endThe Boehner might go for that

I recall when Reagan & Company were making demands of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua back in ’89, the revolutionaries agreed. Caught off guard, Reagan then added more demands. The Sandinistas agreed again.

This went on for some time with the Sandinistas always agreeing (in order to end the murderous US Contra-War against their people). Finally, in frustration, when the media asked Reagan’s representative what would they accept, he replied, “They could all go shoot themselves!”

There is no way to appease sociopaths, nor their psychopathic goals. To them, every compromise is simply another step in their strategy. How many more millions must be sacrificed?

Welcome to Detroit, the current front-line in the Class War:

In March of 2013, Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) appointed corporate lawyer Kevyn Orr as “Emergency Financial Manager” (EFM) to act as overseer for Detroit. Orr was given full dictatorial powers over the entire city, including the elected Mayor and City Council.

Proof (should one need it) that no longer do corporateers intend to allow their “disaster capitalism” to be ameliorated a la FDR or even satiated with neo-liberal “bailouts.” They want it all. Massa has come home to roost

Their counter-revolutionary strategy includes shifting the weight of their Ponzi-like economic schemes to the masses by breaking labor contracts, slashing services, selling off public assets and, should they choose, disincorporatizing the city itself (as prelude to all gov’t).

In other words, they intend to impoverish the mass of population to the level of third-world wage-slavery and privatize every aspect of commerce. Gov’t–after it’s been drowned in their proverbial bathtub–will then only serve corporate edicts.

This is the world they envision, and this is the world they’re well on the way to creating. Detroit is only the latest stage in that quest.

Not to be outdone by the governor, Detroit’s Mayor Bing also appointed Kevyn Orr’s “former” mega-law firm, Jones Day, to represent Detroit in this charade. EFM Orr, needless to point out, controls Bing’s continued salary.

Even Hollywood would find the hypocrisy of this scenario simply too fantastic to use in a script. A corporate governor appoints a corporate lawyer to rule Detroit, while his corporate law firm (which also represents Detroit’s corporate creditors) to be Detroit’s “restructuring counsel.”

Justice...-300x152Of course, all of these profiteers and quislings believe that in the New Detroit the “trains will run on time” and the citizens will behave more profitably under corporatism for its creditors. The demise of its mass of population is simply “the cost of doing business.”

Is money the “measure of all things”? Corporateers and their conservative schutzstaffel (shock-forces; Klan, Tea Party and other Joe Malarkey followers) believe so, albeit, many for racist and other motivations (thus further serving corporatism).

For the moment, Orr & Company are biding their time. Soon enough the Great Property Grab and looting of what remains of the public treasury will commence.

Us natives, relegated to oblivion by a parasitic economic system, will pass quietly into the night…or perhaps not…

(Special thanks to Detroit’s senior activist-attorney Tom Stephens for some of this material. My use of it is of course my own responsibility.)

Dr. Publico

Where Each State Stands on Medicaid Expansion

Where Each State Stands on Medicaid Expansion

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed states to opt out of the law’s Medicaid expansion, leaving each state’s decision to participate in the hands of the nation’s governors and state leaders.

A roundup of what each state’s leadership has said about their Medicaid plans

February 27, 2013 Text last updated on Feb. 26, 2013, at 3:45 p.m. ETmedicaid_map

For an interactive map where you can hover your cursor over a state to see the policy of the state, please click here.
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The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed states to opt out of the law’s Medicaid expansion, leaving each state’s decision to participate in the hands of the nation’s governors and state leaders.

Based on lawmakers’ statements, press releases, and media coverage, the Daily Briefing and American Health Line editorial teams have rounded up where each state currently stands on the expansion.

NOT PARTICIPATING (14 states)

  • Alabama*: Gov. Robert Bentley (R) on Nov. 13 announced that Alabama will not participate in the Medicaid expansion “because we simply cannot afford it” (Gadsden Times, 11/13; Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser, 11/13).
  • Georgia*: Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Politico/11 Alive interview on Aug. 28 said, “No, I do not have any intentions of expanding Medicaid,” adding, “I think that is something our state cannot afford.” When asked about the insurance exchanges, Deal said “we do have a time frame for making the decision on that I think, especially on the exchanges,” adding that “we have just a few days after the election in order to make a final determination on that” (Wingfield, “Kyle Wingfield,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/28).
  • Idaho*: Gov. C.L. Otter (R) in his 2013 State of the State address delivered on Jan. 7 said that while “there is broad agreement that the existing Medicaid program is broken,” the state “face[s] no immediate federal deadline” to address the situation. He added, “We have time to do this right … [s]o I’m seeking no expansion of” the program. Otter said he’s instructed the state Health and Welfare director to “flesh out a plan” that focuses on potential costs, savings and economic impact, which he plans to introduce in 2014 (Ritter Saunders, Boise State Public Radio, 1/7; Young, Huffington Post, 1/7; Petcash, KTVB, 1/7).
  • Iowa*: Gov. Terry Branstad (R) on Feb. 23 said that he has informed HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that he will not expand Medicaid in Iowa because of concerns that the expansion “will either collapse or the burden will be pushed onto the states in a very significant way.” Instead, Branstad pressed Sebelius for a federal waiver to continue IowaCare, a health care program that provides limited benefits to 70,000 low-income state residents (AP/Modern Healthcare, 2/24).
  • Louisiana*: Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) in an NBC “Meet the Press” interview on July 1 said, “Every governor’s got two critical decisions to make. One is do we set up these exchanges? And, secondly, do we expand Medicaid? And, no, in Louisiana, we’re not doing either one of those things.” However, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D) and other Democratic leaders after the Nov. 6 election urged Jindal to reconsider his opposition or the state will not be forced to accept a “one-size-fits-all” plan, CBC News “Money Watch” reports (Barrow, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 7/2; “Money Watch,” CBS News, 11/9).
  • Maine*: Gov. Paul LePage (R) on Nov. 16 said that Maine will not participate in the Medicaid expansion. He called the expansion and the state-based insurance exchanges a “degradation of our nation’s premier health care system” (Mistler, Kennebec Journal, 11/16).
  • Mississippi*: Gov. Phil Bryant (R) on Nov. 7 said Mississippi will not participate in the Medicaid expansion, reiterating previous statements that he had made about the ACA provision (Pender/Hall, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 11/7).
  • North Carolina: Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on Feb. 12 announced that his state will not expand Medicaid or establish its own health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. McCrory said state officials conducted a comprehensive analysis to determine the advantages and disadvantages of expanding Medicaid and the right type of exchange option in the state, and concluded that it is “abundantly clear that North Carolina is not ready to expand the Medicaid system and that we should utilize a federal exchange.” He said the review included discussions with other governors, White House officials, health care providers, and leaders in the state Legislature (AP/Myrtle Beach Sun News, 2/12; Binker/Burns, “@NCCapitol,” WRAL, 2/12; Cornatzer, Raleigh News & Observer, 2/12).
  • Oklahoma: Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Nov. 19 said Oklahoma will not participate in the Medicaid expansion. “Oklahoma will not be participating in the Obama Administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid,” she said in a statement. She noted that the program would cost the state as much as $475 million over the next eight years (Greene, Tulsa World, 11/19).
  • Pennsylvania*: Gov. Tom Corbett (R) on Feb. 5 sent a letter to HHS saying he “cannot recommend a dramatic Medicaid expansion” in Pennsylvania because “it would be financially unsustainable for Pennsylvania taxpayers.” He noted that the expansion would necessitate “a large tax increase on Pennsylvania families” (Tolland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/5).
  • South Carolina*: Gov. Nikki Haley (R) on July 1 announced via Facebook that South Carolina “will NOT expand Medicaid, or participate in any health exchanges.” The state Legislature is expected to make a decision on the Medicaid expansion during the 2013 session (Gov. Haley Facebook page, 7/1; Holleman, Columbia State, 11/9).
  • South Dakota: Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) in his annual budget address on Dec. 4 said he does not plan to participate in the Medicaid expansion. “I really think it would be premature to expand this year,” he said, adding that he hoped for more flexibility for the state program (Montgomery, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 12/4).
  • Texas*: Gov. Rick Perry (R) in a statement on July 9 said, “If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.” Perry also sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on July 9 asserting this position. The Dallas Morning News reported that on Nov. 8, Perry reiterated his opposition to the expansion, saying, “Nothing changes from our perspective” (Office of Gov. Perry release, 7/9; Gov. Perry letter, 7/9; Garrett, Dallas Morning News, 11/11).
  • Wisconsin*: Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Feb. 13 announced his rejection of the Medicaid expansion. He proposed an alternative plan that would expand coverage to low-income state residents through private health care exchanges (Spicuzza, Wisconsin State Journal, 2/13).

LEANING TOWARD NOT PARTICIPATING (2 states)

  • Nebraska*: Gov. Dave Heineman (R) in a statement on his website on June 28 said, “As I have said repeatedly, if this unfunded Medicaid expansion is implemented, state aid to education and funding for the University of Nebraska will be cut or taxes will be increased. If some state senators want to increase taxes or cut education funding, I will oppose them.” Heineman on July 11 sent a letter to state lawmakers saying the state could not afford the expansion, but he stopped short of saying that the state will not participate in the expansion, according to Reuters (Office of Gov. Heineman release, 6/28; Wisniewski, Reuters, 7/11).
  • Wyoming*: Gov. Matt Mead (R) on Nov. 30 recommended that Wyoming not participate in the Medicaid expansion, but added that his position could change in the future and urged “everyone to keep an open mind on this.” The state legislature will make the final decision on whether to expand the program, the AP/Jackson Hole Daily reports (Brown, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, 12/1; Graham, AP/Jackson Hole Daily, 12/1).

LEANING TOWARD PARTICIPATING (4 states)

  • Kentucky: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) when asked about the expansion in July said, “If there is a way that we can afford that will get more coverage for more Kentuckians, I’m for it.” However, state lawmakers are putting pressure on Beshear to reject the expansion (Office of Gov. Beshear release, 6/28; AP/Evansville Courier & Press, 6/28; AP/Evansville Courier & Press, 7/17; Autry, WYU, 7/5; Cross, Louisville Courier-Journal, 6/29).
  • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in a statement on his website on June 28 said he was “pleased the Supreme Court upheld the [ACA]” and looks forward “to continuing to work together with the Obama administration to ensure accessible, quality care for all New Yorkers.” On July 26, Danielle Holahan—project director for New York’s health insurance exchange planning—said the state “largely meet[s] the federal required Medicaid levels already.” Although Cuomo’s office has not officially announced a decision, the Associated Press reported on Nov. 13 that New York will expand Medicaid (Office Gov. Cuomo release, 6/28; Grant, North Country Public Radio, 7/27; Delli Santi/Mulvihill, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13).
  • Oregon: Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) said on June 28 that he is confident that the Oregon Legislature will approve a state Medicaid decision. In an interview with the Oregonian just hours after the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the ACA, Kitzhaber said, “We’ll make a decision on whether or not to expand the Medicaid program really based on, I think, the resources we have available in the general fund for that purpose going forward” (Budnick, Oregonian, 6/28).
  • Virginia: The House of Delegates and Senate on Feb. 23 amended the state budget to include the ability to expand the state’s Medicaid program. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the move gives “a green light” to talks between state and federal officials over flexibility in the Medicaid program. Although Medicaid expansion supporters have hailed the legislative action as a victory, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Feb. 23 said, “As long as I’m governor, there’s not going to be any Medicaid expansion unless there is sustainable, long-lasting, cost-saving reforms” (Martz, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/24).

PARTICIPATING (24 states and the District of Columbia)

  • Arizona*: Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in her 2013 State of the State speech, delivered on Jan. 14, announced that Arizona will participate in the Medicaid expansion, which would extend health care services to an estimated 300,000 more state residents. Brewer noted that the expansion plan will “include a circuit-breaker that automatically” would reduce enrollment if federal reimbursement rates decrease. Brewer was expected to offer further details of the plan in her budget proposal, which is subject to approval by the Republican-controlled Legislature (Christie, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/14; Sanders/Wingett Sanchez, Arizona Republic, 1/14; Fischer, Sierra Vista Herald, 1/14; Safier, Tucson Citizen, 1/14).
  • Arkansas: Gov. Mike Beebe (D) on Sept. 11 said he planned to participate in the Medicaid expansion, the Associated Press reports. According to the AP, Beebe agreed to participate in the expansion after officials assured him the state could opt out later if it faces a financial crunch. Beebe said, “I’m for it. I think it’s good for our people because it’s helping folks that don’t have insurance now that are working their tails off. They’re not sitting on a couch somewhere asking for something” (Brantley, Arkansas Times, 9/11).
  • California: Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in a statement on June 28 said the Supreme Court’s ruling “removes the last roadblock to fulfilling President Obama’s historic plan to bring health care to millions of uninsured citizens.” California got a head start on expanding its Medicaid program in November 2010 with its “Bridge to Reform” program, which aimed to bring at least two million uninsured Californians into Medicaid (Office of Gov. Brown release, 6/28; DeBord, “KPCC News,” KPCC, 6/28).
  • Colorado*: Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) on Jan. 3 announced that his state will participate in the expansion. In a news release, his office said the move would extend Medicaid coverage to about 160,000 low-income residents and save Colorado an estimated $280 million over 10 years without affecting the state’s general fund (Stokols, KDVR, 1/3; Wyatt, AP/Denver Post, 1/3).
  • Connecticut: Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) was among the first governors to sign up for the Medicaid expansion after the ACA was enacted in March 2010. Soon after the Supreme Court ruling on June 28, Malloy said “it’s great … [and a] very important decision for the people of Connecticut. 500,000 people would have lost coverage if Republicans had their way” (Davis, WTNH, 6/28).
  • Delaware: Gov. Jack Markell (D) in a statement on June 28 said, “The Supreme Court’s ruling enables Delaware to continue to implement provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide access to health care benefits for Delawareans.” He added, “On the Medicaid front, Delaware already voluntarily expanded the state’s Medicaid coverage program in 1996 to cover many Delawareans not previously covered” (Office of Gov. Markell release, 6/28).
  • District of Columbia: D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) in a statement on June 28 said, “The District is not at risk of losing any Medicaid funding as a result of this ruling, because District officials have already begun implementation of the ACA’s Medicaid-expansion provisions and will continue to implement the expansion” (Executive Office of the Mayor release, 6/28).
  • Florida*: Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Feb. 20 announced that the state will participate in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, citing HHS’s conditional support for a waiver to shift most of the state’s Medicaid beneficiaries into a managed-care program. However, Scott said that Florida would only participate in the expansion for three years before reevaluating the decision. Supporters of the ACA heralded Florida’s shift as a major reversal; Scott mounted his successful campaign for governor in 2010, in part, by being one of the nation’s foremost critics of President Obama’s planned health reforms (Kennedy/Fineout, Associated Press, 2/20; Office of Gov. Scott release, 2/20).
  • Hawaii: Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) in a statement on June 28 welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling and said the ACA “is our ally” in the effort to “support a health care system that ensures high quality, safety and sustainable costs.” Pat McManaman, director of the state Department of Human Services, said Hawaii’s Medicaid eligibility requirements in July would fall in line with the law’ guidelines, meaning an additional 24,000 people will be eligible for the program by 2014 (Office of Gov. Abercrombie release, 6/28; Garcia, AP/CBS News, 6/29).
  • Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn (D) on June 28 praised the court’s decision and said he “will continue to work with President Obama to help working families get the healthcare coverage they need,” including expanding Medicaid (Office of the Governor release, 6/28; Thomason, Rock River Times, 7/3; Ehley, Fiscal Times, 8/20).
  • Maryland: Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in a statement on June 28 said the Supreme Court’s decision “gives considerable momentum to our health care reform efforts here in Maryland,” adding that the state will move forward to implement the overhaul (Office of the Governor release, 6/28).
  • Massachusetts: Gov. Deval Patrick (D) in late June said Massachusetts is “an early expansion state as you know and we’re expecting further resources from the federal government to sustain the experiment here in Massachusetts.” Patrick called the ruling “good news for us” (Walker, YNN, 6/28).
  • Michigan*: Gov. Rick Snyder (R), in a statement released on Feb. 6, announced that his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal includes a plan to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. The plan would extend Medicaid benefits to about 320,000 eligible residents. Snyder said the plan contains safeguards that will ensure the financial stability of the program and protect against changes in the government’s financial commitment to the expansion (Office of Gov. Snyder release, 2/6).
  • Minnesota: Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said in a statement on June 28 said, “Today’s ruling will be met with relief by the Minnesotans whose lives have already been improved by this law.” Dayton in 2011 used federal money to expand Medicaid early to 84,000 adults with annual incomes below $8,400 (Lohn, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/28).
  • Missouri: Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on Nov. 29 announced that Missouri will participate in the Medicaid expansion. Nixon said he will include the expansion in the state budget proposal he submits to lawmakers. “We’re not going to let politics get in the way of doing the best thing for our state,” he said (Crisp, “Political Fix,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/29).
  • Montana: Gov.-elect Steve Bullock (D) — who takes office on Jan. 7 — on Jan. 4 announced several changes to outgoing Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s (D) two-year budget recommendations, but retained the proposal to expand Medicaid. During a news conference, Bullock said the Medicaid expansion is part of his “Access Health Montana” plan to increase health care coverage for more Montana families. (Johnson, Billings Gazette, 1/5; Johnson, Montana Standard, 1/5).
  • Nevada*: Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) on Dec. 11 announced that the state will participate in the Medicaid expansion. “Though I have never liked the Affordable Care Act because of the individual mandate it places on citizens, the increased burden on businesses and concerns about access to health care, the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court,” Sandoval said in a statement, adding, “As such, I am forced to accept it as today’s reality and I have decided to expand Nevada’s Medicaid coverage” (Damon, Las Vegas Sun, 12/11).
  • New Jersey: Gov. Chris Christie (R) in his Feb. 26 budget address announced that New Jersey will participate in the Medicaid expansion. The ACA provision is expected to extended Medicaid coverage to about 300,000 uninsured New Jersey residents (Delli Santi, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/26).
  • New Hampshire: Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) in her Feb. 14 budget address said that New Hampshire will opt into the ACA’s Medicaid expansion because “it’s a good deal…[that will] allow us to save money in existing state programs, while increasing state revenues.” A state report estimates that the expansion will cost New Hampshire about $85 million through 2020, but will bring in $2.5 billion in federal funds and help reduce the number of uninsured residents from roughly 170,000 to 71,000 (Ramer, AP/Seacoastonline.com, 2/14)
  • New Mexico: Gov. Susana Martinez (R) on Jan. 9 announced that her state will participate in the Medicaid expansion, which potentially could extend health coverage to nearly 170,000 additional low-income uninsured residents. Martinez noted that contingency measures will be established if federal funding for the expansion diminishes, which would mean scaling back the expansion by dropping newly covered beneficiaries from the Medicaid rolls (Massey/Montoya Bryan, AP/Santa Fe New Mexican, 1/9; Schirtzinger, Santa Fe Reporter, 1/9; Reichbach, New Mexico Telegram, 1/9).
  • North Dakota*: Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) in January said the politics associated with the ACA should not prevent North Dakota from participating in the Medicaid expansion. He is supporting a bill that would allow the state health department to access federal funds allocated through the ACA. Dalrymple also said he will include the expansion in his budget proposal and that members of his staff will testify in favor of the expansion before state lawmakers (Jerke, Grand Forks Herald, 1/12).
  • Ohio*: Gov. John Kasich (R) on Feb. 4 announced that the state will be participating in the Medicaid expansion, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. He made the announcement in his two-year budget announcement, but warned that Ohio would “reverse this decision” if the federal government does not provide the funds it has pledged to the expansion (Tribble, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/4).
  • Rhode Island: Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (I) in a statement on his website on June 28 said, “I have fully committed to ensuring Rhode Island is a national leader in implementing health reform whatever the Supreme Court decision, and this just reinforces that commitment.” According to Steven Costantino, the state’s secretary of health and human services, “The expansion is easy to do and makes sense.” Moreover, on July 12, USA Today reported that Chaffee planned to participate in the expansion (Chaffee statement, 6/28; Wolf, USA Today, 7/12; Radnofsky et al., Wall Street Journal, 7/2).
  • Vermont: Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) on June 28 said Vermont’s Medicaid program already meets the requirements under the health reform law’s Medicaid expansion (Steimle, WCAX, 7/1).
  • Washington*: In an email responding to a query by American Health Line, Karina Shagren—a deputy communications director in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s (D) administration—in early July said “the governor supports the Medicaid expansion—and Washington will move forward.” U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D)—who supports the expansion—was elected governor on Nov. 6 (Shagren email, 7/5; Washington Secretary of State website, 11/12).

UNDECIDED/NO COMMENT (6 states)

  • Alaska*: Gov. Sean Parnell (R) on Aug. 8 said he is guarded on the expansion “because our history with the federal government right now is they cut what they promise to fund.” Parnell said he wants to thoroughly understand the costs to the state before making a decision (Bohrer, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/8).
  • Indiana*: Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) in a statement on June 29 said, “Any decision to expand Medicaid in 2014 is entirely the province of the next General Assembly and governor.” U.S. Rep. Mike Pence (R) was elected governor on Nov. 6. In a position statement earlier this year, Pence noted that the Medicaid expansion would double “down on an already broken and unaffordable Medicaid system.” Addressing the Affordable Care Act as a whole, he wrote, “I believe the State of Indiana should take no part in this deeply flawed healthcare bureaucracy” (Office of Gov. Daniels release, 6/29; Pence letter).
  • Kansas*: Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who has been a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, has not stated whether to opt in or out of the Medicaid expansion, the Associated Press reported on Nov. 9 (AP/NECN, 11/9).
  • Tennessee: Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has not decided whether Tennessee will participate in the Medicaid expansion. However, two lawmakers—Sen. Brian Kelsey (R) and Rep. Jeremy Durham (R)—already have committed to introducing legislation that would block expansion, and the state’s new Republican supermajority in the General Assembly means such a bill could pass (Bohs, “Bohs Column,” The Jackson Sun, 11/9).
  • Utah*: In an email responding to a query by American Health Line, Nate McDonald—public information officer for Gov. Gary Herbert (R), who won re-election in the state’s gubernatorial race in November 2012—said “[n]o official decision” has been made on the Medicaid expansion (McDonald email, 11/9).
  • West Virginia: Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) in a statement on his website on June 28 said, “We know what the law is but as I’ve said before, I will continue to do what is best for West Virginia … We’re going to review the Supreme Court’s ruling, and work with our federal delegation on how we move forward.” In the state’s gubernatorial race in November 2012, Tomblin was re-elected (Office of Gov. Tomblin release, 6/28; AP/Marietta Times, 11/7).

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This article is composed by The Advisory Board for their Daily Briefing.  It can be seen at http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2012/11/09/MedicaidMap#lightbox/0/
The Advisory Board Company

Michigan Prisons Save Money by Going Medieval

Michigan House Rep. Greg MacMaster (R-105) is offering a partial solution to the state’s road funding crisis in the face of corporate lobby groups hammering lawmakers to make fixing the roads a top priority. MacMaster, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections told his good buddies at the Mackinac Center that the state can save around $100 million by looking to the private sector to benchmark the Michigan Department of Corrections bidding process. (Translation: the DOC must meet the lowest common denominator, whether it be reasonable or not.)

Last year, they saved over $72 million by cutting therapists and librarians…what’s next, food?

As it turns out…Michigan is considering two bids for privatizing prison food services. This, among other services is frequently accomplished by bringing in a vendor who in turn “hires” the inmates to provide sub-standard cut-rate service. With the current food service cost per prisoner, per day at $4.38 — which includes all phases of food purchase, delivery, preparation and clean-up — how do they intend to trim “savings” from that meager sum without serving debtors prison worm-infested gruel?

Once again, we find the false assumption that adding a for-profit motive to the equation will “presto” create magic money. We have yet to see a morsel of statistical ballast lending weight to that approach. As reported by Democracy Tree last year, Michigan lawmakers persist in clutching the privatization fallacy with the iron determination of some medieval torture device.

Michigan knows well the poverty?prison?poverty endless loop, and if the state really wishes to cut corrections costs it must invest resources to break the poverty/prison cycle. John Tierney, of The New York Times, reports that:

“Among African-Americans who have grown up during the era of mass incarceration, one in four has had a parent locked up at some point during childhood. For black men in their 20s and early 30s without a high school diploma, the incarceration rate is so high — nearly 40 percent nationwide — that they’re more likely to be behind bars than to have a job.”

(Disclaimer: not all Michigan inmates are from poverty. There are the rare exceptions like James Joseph Minder, the “Shotgun Bandit” and former University of Michigan Journalism student who served over ten years in the Michigan penal system, after admitting to over eight armed robberies. He went on to become the Chairman of a major corporation — Smith and Wesson, naturally…a perfect fit.)

In the meantime, Michigan lawmakers are finding creative new ways to incarcerate its poverty-stricken populace — hard-time for a violation of the bottle return deposit law. A person found guilty of cashing-in on 10,000 or more nonreturnable containers would serve up to five years in prison. While the cost of incarceration is about $35,000 a year, Rep. Kenneth Kurtz (R-58 ) insists the bill is needed. And yes, there exists technology to identify and reject nonreturnable bottles — but that solution must be too obvious.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

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Transvaginal Probes are Back

Michigan lawmakers are at it again. They just today introduced another vaginal probe bill in the House — HB 4187 of 2013.

At about this time last year, Democracy Tree reported that lawmakers introduced another mandatory ultrasound bill (HB 4433 of 2012) which never emerged from committee –it required clinics to use:

 [The]most technologically advanced ultrasound equipment available at that location….capable of providing the most visibly clear image of the gross anatomical development of the fetus and the most audible fetal heartbeat.”

The new bill uses this same language verbatim. Sure, it does not specifically say “vaginal probe” (too crass), but OB-Gyn Dr. Charlene Abernethy reviewed the language last year and found it to effectively require a transvaginal probe. She explained that it’s a given that any facility providing pregnancy terminations will have the necessary equipment to perform a transvaginal ultrasound. The bill removes the decision from the physician as to whether to perform a transvaginal versus a transabdominal (non-invasive) ultrasound, it demands they choose the one that provides the best image — and that’s a vaginal probe. Because this legislation additionally denies the patient the choice, it’s rape. By any other name, it’s still state-sanctioned rape. By law and by definition.
transvaginal probe

As if the past two years of continual assaults on women’s reproductive rights hasn’t been enough…it’s now damn near impossible to find an abortion provider in Michigan at all — and now this?

Time to do a little probing with these stone age lawmakers as to their qualifications to legislate.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree
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