The American Legislative Exchange Council — ALEC — has had quite a bit of success writing “model” bills that advance the interests of its corporate backers and then wining and dining friendly state lawmakers to grease the wheels for their passage…
Groups Expose Assault By ALEC Fossil Fuel & Utility Members on Clean Energy and Environmental Regulations
Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), fossil fuel and utility interests are pushing a comprehensive agenda to eliminate environmental and public health regulations, and gut pro-clean energy policies across the country. ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force has proposed model legislation and is now appearing in state legislatures, to:
• Rollback renewable energy policies by weakening or eliminating Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
• Weaken solar net metering policies by gutting compensation for homeowners who transmit solar power to the electricity grid.
• Create loopholes in disclosure rules for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), allowing drilling companies to hide chemicals used in the controversial process from the public.
• Reject regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency, allowing utilities to continue polluting our air and water.
There will be a tele-press briefing with pro-clean energy and environmental experts to hear about where ALEC’s pro-corporate energy agenda is appearing in state legislatures this year.
Who: Aliya Haq, Climate Program Special Projects Director, NRDC
Brant Olson, Campaigns Manager, Forecast the Facts
Connor Gibson, Reseacher, Greenpeace
Gabe Elsner, Executive Director, Energy & Policy Institute
Steve Horn, Research Fellow, DeSmogBlog
What: Tele-press conference call on ALEC’s fossil fuel and utility members’ comprehensive assault on clean energy and environmental regulations. Speakers will detail efforts happening now in state legislatures to gut clean air regulations, stop pro-clean energy policies, and restrict disclosure of fracking chemicals.
When: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 1:30 PM CT
How: Reporters should register at http://bit.ly/1ez0voa to join the call.
DeSmogBlog exists to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change.Energy & Policy Institute performs research and analysis on lobbyists, front groups, and politicians working to expand our reliance on fossil fuels and slow the development of a clean energy economy.Forecast the Facts is a grassroots movement to spread the truth about climate change. Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a national environmental action group that combines the expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals with the power of 1.4 million members and online activists.
“The Republicans who run your Iowa House say they won’t approve public school funding for the 2015-2016 school year, even though the law requires it.”
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Matt Sinovic, Progress Iowa Executive Director
DATE: February 14th, 2014
RE: Iowa’s ‘House of Distractions’
The Iowa legislature failed to meet a crucial deadline yesterday, when they were supposed to approve K-12 funding for the 2015-2016 school year.
Securing that funding in advance is even more crucial now, as our schools are funded at $1,500 lower per pupil than the national average, and more and more students are living in or on the brink of poverty. Those students count on our public schools for opportunity, and rely on our elected officials for leadership.
Last week, the Iowa Senate passed a 6% funding increase for next year, meeting their obligation to our students and restoring critical funding for our schools. Unfortunately, the Iowa House of Representatives refused to consider any increase and did almost everything except fund our schools during the past week, turning themselves into the Iowa House of Distractions.
What has the House of Distractions been doing, if not following the law and funding our schools? Here are a few of the issues they chose to focus on this week:
Comparing guns to hot dogs: Rep. Matt Windschitl, debating HJR4, compared gun deaths to deaths caused by… hot dogs. If we regulate guns, we might as well regulate hot dogs.
Restricting access to women’s health care: The House passed a bill banning the use of so-called telemedicine delivery systems for medication abortion, restricting access for women primarily in rural areas. They did this despite the fact that as access and education about abortion has increased, the rate has decreased.
Listening to the extreme right on education: In a subcommittee chaired by Rep. Sandy Salmon, only right wing experts were heard, including a self-proclaimed author of template legislation for ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. No parents, teachers, or students were listed as invited participants.
Email sent by Rep. Sandy Salmon; emphasis/highlight added, 2/9/14:
From: “Salmon, Sandy [LEGIS]”
Date: February 9, 2014 at 6:30:35 AM CST
Subject: testimony for subcommittee
Thank you for serving on a subcommittee with me that will look at issues related to the Common Core.
I wanted to give you the heads up that some speakers will be coming from out-of-town to give testimony at the subcommittee meeting. They are the following people:
Jane Robbins J.D., senior fellow at the American Principles Project, whose work includes education policy, student privacy and parental rights issues. Ms. Robbins has drafted state legislation on educational transparency and sovereignty that has led to a parallel resolution by the South Carolina Southern Baptist Convention, model ALEC legislation, and emulated legislation in several states.
Henry Burke of Omaha, Nebraska, is a Civil Engineer with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E. He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 40 years. Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction company.
Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy including state specific costs for the implementation of Common Core / Iowa Core.
Bruno Behrend, J.D. is a senior fellow for education policy at The Heartland Institute in Chicago. The mission of the Heartland Institute is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.
Thank you for helping to look into this and we’ll see you this coming week!
State Representative Iowa House District 63
Following only the laws they choose to follow: After failing to meet the school funding deadline set by state law, the Iowa House passed a bill changing state law, meaning they could delay funding. One Representative who opposed the change asked “so you’re going to pick and choose which laws you follow?”
None of these proposals are expected to pass in the Democratically controlled Senate. All of these proposals serve only as a distraction from the real responsibilities of the Iowa House, the first of which is funding our schools. While they should have been working toward better opportunities for Iowa students, they instead chose to spend time on distractions.
More than 1,700 have petitioned House leadership to fund our schools. School administrators oppose their funding delay by a 98 percent margin. It’s time the leadership in the Iowa House of Representatives start leading and stop distracting. They should put an end to the House of Distractions and get to work.
Of course the real story beyond that is that in general, Republicans are a group that believe in Jesus. Now I don’t do religion anymore, but like many I was raised as a Catholic. That meant 12 years of studying the Bible and what Christianity meant. I think anyone in this country can tell you that the very basis of being a Christian is to help the poor. At the same time one of the very fundamentals of government is to keep the governed alive. Since we are self-governing, one of our very, very basic duties would be to keep each others alive.
Cutting food stamps, cutting jobs, cutting unemployment insurance and so on should be called out for those who believe in Christ as the mortal sin that it is. Now religion is not the reason that we should have such policies. We should have such policies because as noted before keeping each other alive is a fundamental of self government. But to be a believer and vote against the basic tenets of your own religion seems to me to earn such people a special place in the hell they believe in.
“Whether or not the president obtains the listed negotiating objectives, the bill would empower the president to sign a trade pact before Congress votes on it with a guarantee that the executive branch can write legislation to implement the pact and alter wide swaths of existing U.S. law and obtain both House and Senate votes within 90 days. That legislation is not subject to markup and amendment in committee, all amendments are forbidden during floor votes and a maximum of 20 hours of debate is permitted in the House and Senate.”
That should scare you right to the quick. TPP will be a disaster for all except the very rich. Odd that this may be the one time that Obama wants something and the Tea Party agrees. The Tea Party knows what a disaster it will be, thus delighting them no doubt. Not sure why Obama would want it.
Gee, maybe our corporatist press could ask him?
Dems In Iowa House Say NO to ALEC
Press Believes Its Own Memes?
One thing that jumped out at me during this Christie affair is that the corporate media loves to believe the themes it develops over the years. John McCain was (is?) a “maverick.” Never was, McCain is a hard right crank, but apparently he must buy the boys a beer once in a while and snarl an occasional quotable line.
- Republicans good at national defense? Not unless you think wasting time, money and personnel wandering in a desert with no plan is good defense.
- Republicans good with finance? Just go look at the markets under Dems, then Republicans. Just look at debt under Dems, then Republicans. You will quickly get that nonsense out of your head.
- Republicans religious? See my comment above. The way they act is condemned by most major religions, thus they have to take one and twist it beyond recognition. Even the pope has called them out on this.
- Christie a bipartisan leader? Never was, never will be. He is a true believer republican, he just avoids the cliches, so must be refreshing for the corporate press. But he is a caricature of the New Jersey thug politician.
Medical Spending Slows
Salon has a quite interesting article on the debate over the cause of the dramatic slowing in medical spending in this country. Most importantly medical spending is slowing like it never has before. Why I do not care, but finally one thing in life is show some signs of coming into control.
Iowa House Democratic Leader Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown) sent a letter to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) today denouncing ALEC’s claim that all members of the Iowa Legislature are members of their organization.
“Last year, all 47 Democratic members of the Iowa House informed the Chief Clerk of the Iowa House that no dues or fees were to be paid to ALEC on our behalf and none of us have applied to ALEC for individual membership,” said Leader Smith. “In light of recent ALEC documents made public, we are deeply troubled that ALEC is currently listing us as members without our permission.”
ALEC is a self-described conservative “voluntary membership organization of state legislators.” The recently disclosed agenda of the August 6, 2013 board meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council lists all Iowa state legislators as ALEC members. ALEC is funded in large part by donations from corporations with interests before state legislatures.
“Since neither we nor the state has paid ALEC dues, we question who has paid the dues on our behalf. Further, we question why ALEC would accept payment of dues on behalf of legislators who clearly want no part of your organization,” said Rep. Smith. “If a corporation or other entity has paid dues to ALEC on behalf of Iowa state legislators, we believe such action likely constitutes a violation of Iowa ethics law.”
Rep. Smith demanded that all names of Iowa House Democrats be removed from ALEC membership lists and that ALEC disclose who paid for the Iowa memberships.
Below is the letter from Representative Mark Smith to ALEC:
Thursday, January 8, 2014
Ron Scheberle, Executive Director
American Legislative Exchange Council
2900 Crystal Drive, 6th Floor
Arlington, VA 22202
The recently disclosed agenda of the August 6, 2013 board meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) lists all Iowa state legislators as members. This is deeply troubling to me as a leader in the Iowa House of Representatives, especially since this information has been repeated many times in on-line blogs and news stories.
ALEC is self-described as a “voluntary membership organization of state legislators.” As we made clear to the Chief Clerk of the Iowa House on the opening day of session January 14, 2013, no House Democrats have applied to ALEC for membership nor do any of us wish to become members of ALEC. Since none of us have become a “voluntary member,” I am concerned about how we came to be listed as members.
The Iowa General Assembly pays membership dues to other organizations of state legislators, such as the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments, but does not pay dues to ALEC. Individual ALEC members pay $100 for a two-year membership. Since neither we nor the state has paid ALEC dues, I question who has paid the dues on our behalf. Further, I question why ALEC would accept payment of dues on behalf of legislators who clearly want no part of ALEC.
ALEC is funded in large part by donations from corporations with interests before state legislatures. Iowa ethics laws in most instances prohibit corporations with interests before the Iowa General Assembly to make expenditures to or on behalf of Iowa state legislators. If a corporation or other entity has paid dues to ALEC on behalf of Iowa state legislators, I believe such action likely constitutes a violation of Iowa ethics law.
Consequently, I ask you to take the following action:
Remove the names of Iowa House Democrats from the ALEC membership list.
Identify who paid our membership dues.
Explain why payment of ALEC dues can be made on behalf of a legislator without the legislator’s knowledge or consent.
If you misrepresented the status of Iowa legislators and we are not all considered ALEC members, I ask you to set the record straight by issuing a public clarification and by providing me with a list of those Iowa legislators who are actual dues-paying members of ALEC.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Rep. Mark Smith
Iowa House Democratic Leader
Iowa is a so called “Right to Work” state. Read this article excerpt to discover what this really means and where these laws really come from, as Oregon is finding out now. Learn more at wrongforeveryone.com.
The editorial board of the Salem Statesmen Journal, one of the most influential newspapers in Oregon, is not messing around.
Their piece on the coming fight over making Oregon a so-called “right to work” state goes right to the point: this law is bad for Oregon, and the only reason we’re talking about it is because of deep-pocket out-of-state special interests. [Note from BFIA: ALEC]
Don’t know what a “right to work” law is? The editorial kicks it off with a succinct definition:
Under right-to-work laws, employees in unionized workplaces no longer can be required to pay unions for the cost of being represented. That’s the sum and substance of right to work, in one sentence.
These laws, passed in 24 states, have nothing to do with protecting those who have a job from losing it or granting anyone who needs a job the right to find it. Yet the phrase persists, because political factions that back such legislation aren’t courageous or honest enough to call them what they are.
Right-to-work is a misnomer. If proponents were straight with us, they’d call these transparently vindictive efforts a “Right to Weaken Unions Act” or a “Right to Punish Those Who Oppose Us Measure.” The laws drain money from unions under the guise of creating a more business-friendly environment for states.
Here are some real facts to get you started:
- States with “right to work” laws have lower average wages than free bargaining states. Workers earn an average of $1,500 less annually in “right to work” states.
- Fewer workers have employer-based health insurance in “right to work” states. There are also higher rates of workplace injuries and fatalities in these states.
- Research in favor of Oregon’s “right to work” initiative is deeply flawed (and funded by the same donors who are pushing the policy in the first place.)
- Businesses don’t use “right to work” as a primary factor when deciding where to locate.
Learn more about “right to work” laws at WrongforEveryone.com.
We are just a week away from the beginning of another legislative session. Thus we are also just a week away from ALEC once more working its magic in the Iowa legislature and legislatures all around the country to get compliant, barely engaged representatives to push ALEC backed corporate legislation. Once again ALEC will hide behind a veneer of being a “non-partisan” body to push its corporate want list.
Here is the way one citizen put it in a letter to the editor of the Topeka Capital Journal:
“ALEC’s malign influence on the legislative process is by now reasonably well known. Its “model legislation” is routinely enacted without change by lawmakers too lazy or too corrupt to do their jobs responsibly.
And there’s nothing at all to laugh about when it comes to climate change. The accelerating greenhouse effect is on track to catastrophically disrupt agriculture, infrastructure and the other support systems of our civilization. Yet ALEC and other ultra-conservative forces have used their financial resources to seriously hobble national or regional efforts to prepare for disastrous outcomes.”
WARREN SENDERS, Medford, Mass.
ALEC is in truth a lobbying group and should be treated as such by the Iowa legislature. It is time to end this hypocrisy. The people of Iowa deserve fair representation. We do not deserve to be ruled by the corporations through proxies pretending to be legislators.
Thus I call on all fair minded Iowa legislators to put ALEC in its place as a lobbying group rather than inside the tent as a fake non-partisan actor. Let Iowa once more lead the country in making the legislative process open, clean and fair.
While we enjoy the holidays, have friends in and eat good food and drink good drink, America’s right wing and monied classes have been either stealing us blind or setting up the mechanisms to steal us blind. Merry Christmas.
First we have the recent ruling in the Detroit bankruptcy case. The city’s public employees did nothing to cause the bankruptcy. These folks went to work faithfully for decades. When they retired they received a modest (very modest) pension of around $19,000 a year on average basically as a deferred compensation. A study by Demos laid the blame for Detroit’s bankruptcy on Detroit’s joining many Americans in investing in the toxic assets being sold by Wall Street. Please read or listen to this DemocracyNow interview with Walter Tuberville on the Detroit situation.
Not one of the banksters responsible for the toxic assets have yet to be charged for anything to do with the collapse. Yet retirees from Detroit’s public sector will be paying for Wall Street’s gambling for the rest of their lives if the legalized theft of their pension is upheld.
To cover Detroit debts it looks like the city will need to sell off municipal assets. This will include treasures from their world known art museum. Now wealthy people with some cash in their pockets will probably be able to pick up masterpieces for pennies on the dollar. No doubt, valuable city land will also be on the auction block. Money raised from these and other endeavors will used to pay debts to, believe it or not, those who sold them the toxic assets.
At almost the same time, legislators assembled in Springfield, Illinois to go about the purpose of stealing the public workers pensions since the state had defaulted on payment into the fund for many, many years.
Right after Thanksgiving ALEC got their puppets together in Thanksgiving to tell them what they will work on in their states. As you know ALEC is essentially a lobbying group for corporations at the state level. Their legislative want list will load up up the pockets of their corporate owners. We here in Iowa have a couple legislators who have pledged to carry out their wishes.
Apparently, ALEC isn’t doing enough to create the ‘atmosphere’ to rob the poor and give it to the rich. Therefore uber-wealthy are sponsoring a think tank that will be working at the state level to attack any social policy in this country. Do yopu remember the part of the revolution where we were fighting to make a better life for the rich? Neither do I. Here from the Guardian is an excerpt concerning the State Policy Network (SPN) yet another group sponsored by the wealthy to steal your money, freedom and future.
“Conservative groups across the US are planning a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers’ compensation and the environment, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.
The strategy for the state-level organisations, which describe themselves as “free-market thinktanks”, includes proposals from six different states for cuts in public sector pensions, campaigns to reduce the wages of government workers and eliminate income taxes, school voucher schemes to counter public education, opposition to Medicaid, and a campaign against regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
The policy goals are contained in a set of funding proposals obtained by the Guardian. The proposals were co-ordinated by the State Policy Network, an alliance of groups that act as incubators of conservative strategy at state level.
The documents contain 40 funding proposals from 34 states, providing a blueprint for the conservative agenda in 2014. In partnership with the Texas Observer and the Portland Press Herald in Maine, the Guardian is publishing SPN’s summary of all the proposals to give readers and news outlets full and fair access to state-by-state conservative plans that could have significant impact throughout the US, and to allow the public to reach its own conclusions about whether these activities comply with the spirit of non-profit tax-exempt charities.”
But the worst of the worst appears to be the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is a multi-national trade agreement that is being negotiated in private with special representation for corporations. Little about the TPP has leaked. What has leaked sounds like a corporate wet dream. President Obama is pushing for “fast-tracking” confirmation of this treaty. Anything this extensive needs a thorough going over by our representatives. Be sure to contact your representatives now and tell them that the TPP and its Trans-Atlantic brother need a full and PUBLIC hearing.
It has taken many decades to get the ingredients right to make a full scale attack on public workers. They are about the last guard in the rights assault on America and its workers. Being able to plunder the wealth of the commons for pennies on a dollar is an added plus.
*BFIA post updated 10:41 am 12/5/13.
In documents released about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) yesterday, it was revealed that Senator Bill Dix and Representative Linda Miller, as Iowa state chairs for ALEC, were asked to pledge,
“I will act with loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.”
“Newly revealed documents demonstrate that Representative Linda Upmeyer believes her first responsibility is to ALEC, above even her constituents. The loyalty oath for legislators proves ALEC’s true colors – corporate special interests first, citizens last. We call on Upmeyer and all ALEC members to publicly renounce the loyalty oath, retract their membership in this secretive corporate front group and instead work on behalf of their constituents.” – Matt Sinovic, Progress Iowa
[See BLOG FOR IOWA ACTION ALERT below.]
Here is a link to yesterday’s story in the Guardian.The state chair pledge is highlighted on page 20 of the embedded document: theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/03/alec-funding-crisis
And here is the ALEC website listing Dix and Miller as the Iowa chairs: alec.org/about-alec/state-chairmen/
ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council, is in D.C. this week for its “State and Nation Policy Summit” has been the moving force behind legislation including the Stand Your Ground laws that protect reckless killers, voter suppression schemes and laws to strip workers of their right to bargain collectively for fair wages, benefits and working conditions.
ALEC is funded by massive “donations,” from corporations who in return are given full voting rights in all decisions. Corporations draft legislation that directly benefits their bottom line, sit with legislators at ALEC conferences and vote on ALEC policy and legislation, then set the legislators loose to push these bills on their behalf in state governments around the country.
ALEC’s legislative agenda for 2014 includes plans to harass navigators who help uninsured Americans sign up for affordable health coverage and continue to push for a repeal of the minimum wage.
Matt Sinovic, Progress Iowa
BLOG FOR IOWA ACTION ALERT
BFIA Action Alert: We have a right to expect that our elected officials in Des Moines will represent the best interests of the people of Iowa, NOT the best interests of the Koch Brothers and their ALEC corporate friends.
If you live in Iowa Iowa Senate District 9 (Bill Dix), or Iowa House district 94 (Linda Miller), contact these two corporate shills and remind them that their loyalty is to you and your fellow constituents, not a lobbying group for the Koch Brothers. Scroll down for contact info.
Contact Senator Bill Dix here:
Legislative Email: email@example.com
Home Phone: 319.885.6790
Cell Phone: 319.269.3664
Home Address: 317 S. Walnut Street, P.O. Box 220 Shell Rock IA, 50670
Contact Rep. Linda Miller here:
Legislative Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Phone: 563.449.9956
Home Address: 6766 Ridges Court, Bettendorf IA, 52722
Capitol Phone: 515.281.3221
Business Phone: 563.650.9539
While we are distracted by the latest glitch in the ACA and stories of President Kennedy and who may REALLY be at fault, our “friends” at ALEC are not sleeping. While we enjoy the year end holidays ALEC is preparing to make your year once again miserable with low wages, armed citizenry, busted unions, inadequate schools and the rich getting oh so much richer.
Remember those days of decent jobs with decent pay and benefits? Remember when we worked together to make a better world for our children than it was for us? That was the American Dream and that Dream is long gone. One of the major players in dismantling that dream and making sure that the rich get richer and all others continue to slide is ALEC.
So less than a week after the rich eat a huge meal while McDonald’s workers cut their hamburger into pieces to cover a whole day of meals, ALEC will be gathering in luxury in the nation’s capital to once again give its marching orders to their members.
What laws will they be telling their mostly Tea Party members to enact to enrich the corporations this year? Get tougher on crime to fill the corporate prisons? Stand your ground laws to sell more guns? Surely they will be pushing hard for more right-to-work (for less) laws around the country? How about further restricting local governments ability to tax so they will need to cut back on services? How about the ever popular union busting? How could we forget the continuing privatizing of the schools?
Whatever they do, they will have had a new set of so-called network of think tanks. In these “think tanks” the right wing agenda for states and other local governments will be pushed. Laws that will be introduced into 50 legislatures including Iowa’s will be well thought out to enhance the rich and screw the poor, middle-class and workers.
While ALEC acts exactly like a lobbying firm, they are not treated like a lobbying firm. They are given the status of a legislative education organization thus avoiding taxes and other restrictions on lobbyists. Thus they have a status that not only allows ALEC special access, many members of the state legislatures are also members of ALEC. They should be wearing clothes that identify their owners.
So while our eyes are so often focused on the travesty that Washington has become, the real damage is being done right back here in the states in places like Des Moines, St. Paul, Lincoln, Jefferson City, Springfield, Madison and all the others capital cities. Quietly, furtively, our legislators conspire with the rich to give our money, our freedom and our future to the corporations and the wealthy.
One of the new proposals I have heard floated this year is to do away with sick pay for governmental jobs. Think about that. You go in to renew your driver’s license and the person snapping your picture has pneumonia but can’t take a day off. You get your license and something extra.
We need to make ALEC an issue in all our state level elections this year. Always remember that a man can only serve one master at a time. If our legislature is beholden to ALEC, how can they possibly work for us.