Here’s more video from last week’s press event to highlight the completion of the ALEC in Iowa report. Featured in this video: Matt Sinovec, ProgressIowa; Lisa Graves, Center for Media and Democracy; Peter Fisher, Iowa Policy Project, and State Senator Joe Bolkcom. Click here to read the complete report about how corporations are writing laws, pushing them off on your state representative whose re-election campaign they likely support financially, who then passes it off to you and fellow Iowans as a home-grown bill. These ALEC McBills have nothing to do with what is best for Iowa. Contact your state representative or state senator to find out if he or she is a member of ALEC.
Matt Sinovic, ProgressIowa
*UPDATE: CLICK HERE TO READ THE REPORT RELEASED TODAY
Des Moines, Iowa — Local and national leaders will speak out on Tuesday, March 12th about the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and its influence on Iowa’s legislative process. Lisa Graves, the executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy and publisher of ALECexposed.org, Senator Joe Bolkcom, chair of the national Progressive States Network, and Peter Fisher, research director for the Iowa Policy Project, will attend and participate on an expert panel about ALEC, a group that has been described as “stealth lobbyists” for its clandestine pursuit of a corporate agenda across the country.
In partnership with Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause, the event will feature a screening of the Bill Moyers program “United States of ALEC” and a new research report entitled “ALEC Exposed in Iowa,” scheduled for release on Tuesday morning. Key findings in the report include:
- A detailed listing of the more than $500,000 in campaign donations from ALEC member corporations to ALEC members in Iowa, including more than $200,000 to Governor Terry Branstad, a founding member of ALEC.
- The secretive nature of ALEC’s taxpayer-funded membership in Iowa due to a lack of transparency in the Iowa legislature
- Examples of ALEC ‘model’ bills, written by and for corporate interests, then introduced by Iowa legislators
- Ongoing efforts to shed light on the influence of ALEC in Iowa
Iowa State Capitol, Room 22, Des Moines, Iowa
Tuesday, March 12th, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
ALEC is a Washington DC based group funded almost entirely by corporations, big business associations, insurance companies, and the super-rich. ALEC was formed in 1973 by a group of conservative activists who came together to advance a national corporate agenda in state legislatures across the country. Among the founders of ALEC was now-Governor Terry Branstad.
ALEC is made up of more than 300 corporate and 2,000 legislative members, the overwhelming majority of them Republicans, who work outside of the public view to approve ‘model’ legislation to increase corporate profits at public expense and promote a conservative national agenda.
Contact Matt Sinovec, 515-423-0530
The event will include:
- Screening of the Bill Moyers program “United States of ALEC”
- Release of a new research report, “ALEC Exposed in Iowa”
- An expert panel on the influence of ALEC across the country and in Iowa, featuring:
Lisa Graves Executive Director of Center for Media & Democracy
Joe Bolkcom, State Senator
Peter Fisher, Iowa Policy Project
Executive Director | Progress Iowa
Controversial “Stand Your Ground” Proposal Returns to Iowa
Rep. Matt Windschitl brings back controversial ALEC proposal one local prosecutor called the ‘license to kill’ statute
Des Moines, IA – Yesterday State Representative Matt Windschitl [Note from BFIA: - whose family owns a gun store in Missouri Valley] introduced the controversial “Stand Your Ground” legislation, based on a model bill originally promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The bill, House File 57 (HF57), would allow Iowans to take a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ mentality that has been linked to increased homicide rates where it has been enacted. Rep. Windschitl proposed similar legislation last year, and may benefit from its passage as the proprietor of a gun store in Missouri Valley.
“Stand your ground laws are dangerous, and the research backs it up,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “We already have the right to defend ourselves; this goes far beyond that. In fact, one local prosecutor called it the ‘license to kill’ statute. We need our elected officials to focus on keeping our communities safe, creating jobs and strengthening our state, not putting us in harm’s way.”
“Stand Your Ground” legislation and ALEC gained increased exposure and infamy last year after the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. In the aftermath of the shooting, ALEC lost more than 40 corporate sponsors and disbanded the task force responsible for promoting “Stand Your Ground.”
When the bill was proposed last year by Rep. Windschitl, Iowans reacted strongly in opposition. Although it passed the Iowa House of Representatives on February 29, 2012, it did not become law. Research now demonstrates that “Stand Your Ground” laws are linked with increased homicide.
HF57 is awaiting action before the House Judiciary Committee; track it by clicking here, and see the similarities to the original ALEC model legislation in the comparison below.
Progress Iowa is a statewide, non-partisan issue advocacy group made up of over 2,500 members promoting progressive values and working for a better and more just Iowa.
Eastern Iowa authorities against ‘stand your ground’
“A person already has the right to defend themselves or others, if needed,” said Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden. “The ‘stand your ground’ legislation goes far past that. I refer to it as the ‘license to kill’ statute, because that’s exactly what it does.”
Iowa Public Radio: ‘Stand Your Ground’ Linked to Increase in Homicides
House File 57 Comparison to ALEC legislation:
An urgent message from Progress Iowa:
Today a subcommittee in the Iowa House of Representatives will consider a bill copied directly from the ALEC playbook – click here and tell them to represent Iowa, not ALEC!
After just one week in session, the Legislature is at it again.
They are ignoring Iowans and instead catering to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an out-of-state corporate interest group.
During the session’s opening days, House Republicans introduced House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR1), which would put “right-to-work” language into our constitution.
“Right-to-work” is a dangerous law that attacks middle and working class Iowans; the law leads to lower wages, more workplace injuries and deaths, and lower investment in education.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, this ALEC law is already exists in Iowa, making the House’s first bill of the year a complete waste of time and tax dollars.
Why would they waste our time and our money? Because the Iowa House of Representatives is more concerned with pleasing ALEC than representing the needs of Iowans.
Our petition is very straightforward, and ends by saying:
“Instead of putting into the constitution a bad law that already exists, the House should focus on creating jobs, strengthening our schools, or tackling any of the other issues facing our state. Please reject HJR1 — we need our legislature to represent Iowa, not ALEC.”
Our legislators clearly have the wrong priorities as they start the session. But if enough of us take action, they will see that Iowans demand true democracy, not elected officials who care more about their corporate funders than real solutions for our state.
Tell the Iowa House to reject HJR1 and the influence of ALEC by signing our petition:
If you have any questions or wish to get more involved, please contact me at email@example.com.
Thank you for all you do.
P.S. We know this won’t be the end of ALEC’s attempts to influence our legislature. Make a donation today to help us take action in the days and weeks ahead.
The gang of Republicans in the state house kicked off last week asking for a constitutional amendment to include their political position on Iowa’s status as a right to work state in the Iowa Constitution. Didn’t they hear about the divided government and the need to compromise? Whether the measure will be voted out of committee is uncertain. If it is, and the resolution is debated, passed and messaged to the senate, the result is foregone―it isn’t going anywhere during the 85th Iowa General Assembly.
House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1), calls for an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to incorporate existing right to work law into the document. A new Article XIII would be added, titled “Labor Union Membership,” explained in the bill as follows:
“This joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa relating to labor union membership. The joint resolution proposes incorporating current Code sections 731.1 through 731.5 into the constitution. The resolution provides that a person shall not be deprived of the right to work for any employer because of membership in, or refusal to join, a labor union. The resolution also prohibits requiring the payment of union dues or the deduction of union dues from a person’s pay as a prerequisite for employment.”
HJR 1 is expected to be dead on arrival in the Iowa Senate. It represents the business as usual political posturing endemic to 21st Century Iowa politics. Iowa is, and has been, a “right to work” or “open shop” state for a long time. Whether we will continue to be so is not a question among most people I know—Iowa will be a right to work state for the foreseeable future. So what is the bill about?
Some believe strengthening Iowa’s right to work laws would attract businesses to Iowa. Of this there is no guarantee. While I have heard executives who were seeking a place to locate their business talk about right to work, it was a lesser consideration. It sounded more like executive chatter, preliminary pleasantries before discussion of more important issues: tax incentives, real estate deals, utility concessions and other financial considerations. As the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) pointed out, implementing right to work laws can go the other way, as they did in Oklahoma. EPI reported, “since the (right-to-work) law passed (in Oklahoma) in 2001, manufacturing employment and re-locations into the state reversed their climb and began to fall, precisely the opposite of what right-to-work advocates promised.” What happened in Oklahoma may not happen in Iowa, but there is a different reason some would like to see this bill gain traction.
HJR 1 continues the rigorous acrimony between Iowa Democrats and Republicans regarding union membership, public unions in particular. Republicans view labor unions as Democratic supporters, and Democrats find the financial and campaign support of labor unions useful in politics. HJR 1 is the Republican way of flipping the bird at Democratic politicians, especially since they must realize HJR 1 is going nowhere in the 85th Iowa General Assembly.
That’s a fine howdy-do to get the session started.
As new and returning state legislators were sworn in today, Progress Iowa asked them to opt-out of joining the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC. In a letter sent to all Representatives and Senators, Progress Iowa offered congratulations on taking their oath, and explained how ALEC quietly interferes in state policy-making on behalf of corporate funders, and asked them to opt-out of joining the organization.
“Everyday Iowans don’t want to see their tax dollars promoting the agenda of out-of-state corporations,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “We want to know that the officials they elect will put Iowa values above those of special-interest lobbyists with a hidden agenda. That’s why our members are asking their state legislators to pledge to put their constituents first and opt-out of using taxpayer funds to join ALEC.”
Over the past few years, more light has been cast on the role ALEC has played in promoting controversial bills across the country. Legislation promoting voter suppression, “Stand Your Ground” laws, school privatization, and other ALEC proposals have been widely criticized in local and national media. As a result of ALEC’s new found infamy, 42 corporate funders, including McDonald’s, Kraft, and Coca-Cola withdrew their support. However, annual dues paid by Iowa legislators with taxpayer dollars continue to fund the organization’s lobbying efforts.
Within the letter, Progress Iowa asked legislators to answer a brief survey to confirm whether they would choose to reject membership in ALEC. Legislators who submit the confirmation will be invited to a brief press conference in the coming weeks to announce their choice and announce to their constituents that they’ve chosen to put Iowa values above those of ALEC.
It is Thursday as I write this and I am quite sad to see that the man who is our elected Secretary of State seems to be much more concerned about implementing ALEC designed policy than he is about making voting better for Iowans or making the verification of vote totals more reliable. Schultz is planning on going ahead and implementing rules which are geared at Latino voters. Normally such a change of voting eligibility would go through the legislature, but Schultz knows he has no chance to pass it there, so he must circumvent the normal process. Shame on you, Matt Schultz. Let us hope some common sense court denies his attempt to take the law into his own hands.
Legislature Back To Work Tomorrow
Speaking of ALEC, one of the groups that ALEC owns will be back to business tomorrow. Last year every Republican member of the legislature was owned by ALEC. Let’s see what happens this year. Will we have another year of the House trying to pass ALEC’s pet projects, such turning our public schools systems into “charter” schools where our tax dollars are siphoned off to major corporations? Or perhaps changing the property tax system in such a way as to choke cities and towns? Or maybe passing a good old “Stand Your Ground” law so Iowans can shoot each other and claim it’s legal?
Personally, I can hardly wait to hear the stories of how passing corporate wet dream laws is so good for us.
Taibbi On Bailouts
This is a sobering read. Permanent bailout state? Oh, Boy!
Australia Burning Up
It is summertime in Australia and boy is it hot. Record breaking hot. So hot that already many of the hottest days ever in Australia have been recorded since January 1. So hot that mappers needed a new color to show how hot it is. The old hottest temp was bareley past 50 degrees C. The new hottest temp is now 54 degrees C or just short of 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Wow. And the fires are burning uncontrollably in Australia. Looks to me like real proof of climate change.
This, of course, during the week when it was announced that 2012 was hottest year on record, besting 2011. There is a trend.
Balanced Budget Constitutional Conventions?
Once again our friends on the extreme right have come up with a somewhat covert way to subvert the government. Now from the Goldwater Institute comes a concept of maneuvering state legislatures into holding constitutional conventions in enough states to propose an amendment. The amendment in question is the balanced budget amendment. Read about this proposal here and then we can watch to see if anything comes of it.
Briefly, here is what is billed as the Compact for America is about:
“The Compact for America has set a timetable to convene a single issue constitutional convention this summer using Article V of the US Constitution to railroad the revised Balanced Budget Amendment in to the Constitution.”
Bin Laden Said He Would Bankrupt America, Sounds Good To Republicans.
As we careen toward an absolutely insane standoff on the Debt Ceiling, I was reminded the other day of what Osama Bin Laden was attempting to accomplish on 9/11. His goal was not to bring down America, but to push America’s buttons in such a way that we would bankrupt ourselves. And with the aid of the Republican congresses of the early 2000s, we went abut doing just that. First the huge tax cuts for the wealthy took care of reducing revenues well below spending. Then they went on a spree which included two wars that were not paid for (nor on the budget for that matter) and the Medicare drug program that forced the country to pay the highest prices possible. All this still continues to drive America deeper and deeper into the hole.
Now Republicans stand at the brink of doing something so crazy that no one can even fathom why they would do it. That is they are going to declare that they will refuse to pay bills that they themselves racked up. If they do so the Great Depression will look like the good old days. Are they seriously crazy enough to do this? And I do mean crazy, because this is not the action of a sane person.
As they do year after year, the folks over at Iowa Policy Project have put together a well researched paper concerning the state of work in Iowa at the end of each year. They have been doing this end of year report since 2001. This year as in the past, IPP puts together the facts and offer common sense solutions which are quite practical and doable.
But the powers that be in the state will probably not pay any attention to IPP’s analysis or suggestions. Instead i think we can look forward to another couple years of the House trying to push through ALEC solutions to problems that don’t exist. I also expect Governor Branstad to try to do what he can to give tax breaks to the wealthy and apply whatever brakes he can to public unions. He is after all, a founding member of ALEC, but has been surpassed in the pursuit of ALEC goals by the likes of Walker of Wisconsin and Snyder in Michigan and Scott in Florida.
I recommend that if you are truly interested in a solid research and solutions you read IPP weekly. But the end of the year report is a must for anyone who wants to get a good grasp on where Iowa is at the start of the legislature.
Among the key findings:
• Iowa’s current recovery is slower than that following other recessions; at recent slow-growth trends, it will still take about a year and a half to reach pre-recession job levels.
• Underemployment has remained up throughout recovery, illustrating a greater severity of damage from recession than typical unemployment data, which miss those discouraged enough to leave the work force, and those working part-time jobs below their skill level and desire for full-time work.
• Across the last generation, and especially across the last two business cycles, we have seen a steady loss of good jobs in Iowa. The steepest losses since 2007 have been in higher-wage sectors such as manufacturing and construction.
• Iowa’s median wage in 2011 remained below the U.S. average for both men and women, and ranked Iowa in the bottom tier among nine states in the region.
• Over a quarter of Iowa workers toil for less than $10.73/hour, the wage needed to lift a full-time worker to the poverty threshold for a family of four.
A tip of the hat to author Colin Gordon on an excellent report.