FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 13, 2011- Today, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) made available over 800 “model” bills and resolutions secretly voted on by corporate and legislative members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC was created by right-wing political apparatchik Paul Weyrich in 1973. ALEC has become the premier institution for crafting and promoting model legislation and resolutions that largely benefit its corporate members. Until today, it has been difficult to trace the controversial and oddly uniform bills popping up in legislatures across the country directly to ALEC.
The public can now examine the array of ALEC model bills for the first time and link them to bills being introduced in their own state house. CMD has uploaded a full archive of ALEC bills with annotations and analysis on the bills, on its website "ALECexposed.org". We make these bills available in the public interest, in conjunction with analysis provided in today’s edition of The Nation Magazine. The bills are in a wiki to empower crowd-sourcing by reporters and citizen journalists to help compile additional analysis of the bills and resolutions.
“Through ALEC, global corporations and politicians vote behind closed doors on bills to rewrite laws reaching into almost every area of American life,” said Lisa Graves, CMD’s executive director, adding “Voters have no idea that legislative proposals dramatically changing our laws have been pre-approved and underwritten by corporations like Koch and others in ALEC.”
Reporters, researchers, and citizen journalists can visit the ALEC Exposed archive here and help us document where these bills are moving or have passed. They are organized into nine topic areas: Worker and Consumer Rights, Tort Reform and Injured Americans, Privatizing Schools and Higher Ed Policy, Health, Pharmaceuticals and Safety Net Programs,Environment, Energy and Agriculture, Democracy, Voter Rights and Federal Power, Taxes and Budgets, and Guns, Prisons, Crime and Immigration. NEWLY CREATED ALEC RESOURCES FROM CMD
ALEC FAQS, what it is, how it is funded, and what goes on behind closed doors.
ALEC POLITICIANS, an incomplete but growing list of ALEC leaders, “state representatives,” congressional alumni, and more. (The list includes Speaker of the House John Boehner, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and blasts from the past like Donald Rumsfeld).
ALEC CORPORATIONS, a growing list of ALEC corporations in leadership past and present.
ALEC FUNDING, our analysis demonstrates ALEC’s almost complete reliance on corporations and corporate foundations, with steeply discounted legislative dues serving as window dressing.
ALEC ANALYSIS FROM THE NATION MAGAZINE, today The Nation magazine published a series of articles tackling major aspects of the archive: labor rights, democracy, health care, the Koch Brothers’ role, and school privatization. These articles are the beginning of an inquiry we hope will be pursued by journalists, academics, and researchers across the country.
ALEC AGENDA IN BRIEF
•Starving State Government of Revenue to Make It Dysfunctional and Despised.This past session, ALEC members introduced scores of ALEC bills to grant tax breaks to big corporations or cripple state’s ability to raise revenue, including new constitutional rules limiting state taxing powers. Simultaneously, ALEC bills attempt to turn major government programs into a profit-making enterprise.
•Transforming Government for the Public Good into “Government, Inc.” ALEC bills encompass over 20 years of effort to privatize public education through an ever-expanding school voucher system, to turn Medicare and Medicaid into voucher programs, to privatize public pension funds for the benefit of Wall Street firms, and to privatize almost all aspects of social service delivery including prisons and prison labor. Many firms in ALEC would benefit from these schemes to turn government into a for-profit operation.
•Race to the Bottom in Wages for Americans. ALEC bills would repeal state or local laws that boost workers wages such as “living wage” and prevailing wage laws. ALEC bills call a starting minimum wage an “unfunded mandate” but think that prison labor is just terrific. ALEC also supports a radical “free trade” agenda that sends U.S. manufacturing and an increasing number of service-sector jobs overseas.
•Defunding Traditional Supporters of the Democratic Party. ALEC purports to be nonpartisan, but only 1 of 104 legislators in ALEC’s leadership is a Democrat. The “ALEC Exposed” archive contains dozens of bills to defund public sector and private sector unions and to make it harder for trial lawyers to bring cases when consumers are injured or killed by dangerous products.
•Disenfranchising Democratic Voters. ALEC provides model “Voter ID” legislation that requires all voters to present official state photo identification. ALEC provides the blueprint then disclaims all responsibility when states then target college students, the elderly, the poor, and other traditional Democratic constituencies.
•Federalism Hypocrisy. ALEC supports the preemption of any policy at any level of government that raises wages (such as living wage laws), expands health care (such as insurance coverage for autism), and protects consumers (such as local pesticide and zoning rules). But its bills are designed to be introduced in every state, nationalizing the corporate agenda through your statehouses.