privatize

Voter Suppression in Ohio

The ALEC “Trifecta”

Over the past two years we’ve seen a very partisan form of state government in Ohio.  Governor John Kasich promoted and signed legislation that directly attacked organized labor (SB-5, a collective bargaining overhaul) which became the centerpiece of the Ohio Republican Party agenda last year and an issue championed by the GOP Governor.  Kasich has been pursuing a specific agenda along with other highly placed state appointed and elected officials.  The Governor and at least two top Ohio state officials share alumnus status with the developer of that agenda – ALEC.Kasich pushed for privatized education – K-12 through  college – accomplished through cuts to education spending, signed legislation allowing fracking,  and slashed funding for the Ohio Consumer’s Counsel  (OCC) which has interfered with Duke Energy’s attempts to pass along storm damage repairs to their customers.

Kasich appointed former Representative Todd Snitchler (R) to the position of Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in 2011. One of Snitchler’s first acts was to approve rate increases proposed by Duke Energy and American Electric Power (AEP). Snitchler touted consumers would see smaller energy bills under the plans. Within 60 days of approval, PUCO and Snitchler repealed the approval after schools, residents and businesses saw rate increases of as much as 50% by both Duke and AEP.

More recently a furor has arisen over early voting hours, voter ID fraud and “election reform,” with Kasich signing a reform bill that overturned last year’s bill actually providing election reform.  The net was that it would restrict early voting in Ohio.

Ohio’s current Secretary of State Jon Husted served six terms as a member of the Ohio House and 1 year in the state Senate before being elected as Secretary in 2010. He has been at the center of a maelstrom of controversy over allowing some Republic counties to extend early voting hours while restricting Democratic counties to shorter hours.  Last week he suspended two election board officials who voted to keep weekend early voting – only to reinstate those member this week.

All of the issues mentioned above are parts of an agenda advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Nationally they have pursued a suppression of minority voters through voter ID “model legislation”, support for state legislation to allow fracking, unlimited drilling, and opposing renewable energy initiatives.

What most Ohio voters and consumers are unaware of is that Kasich, Husted and Snitchler are all ALEC Alumni:

ALECexposed at Netroots

Advocates and researchers converged this week in Rhode Island to talk about work exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The group, including the Center for Media and Democracy‘s Executive Director Lisa Graves, was gathered for a panel at Netroots Nation, a conference which brings together bloggers, social justice advocates, labor and organizational leaders, grassroots organizers, and others. Each in their own way, the panelists talked about how through ALEC corporations are unduly influencing and corrupting American democracy. CMD launched ALECexposed last July after a whistleblower gave Graves “model” bills that had been voted on by ALEC corporations and legislators behind closed doors on ALEC task forces.

…Another ALEC objective discussed is the effort to privatize public pensions. ALEC’s plan for this is to transfer the management of pension funds from the public sector to for-profit Wall Street firms through 401(k) programs. The argument that this is financially beneficial to taxpayers is not true, Carey said. “ALEC preys on legislators who don’t have knowledge on the issue and ALEC spreads misleading information.”

To read all of Sara Jerving’s article at PR Watch, please click here