Posts Tagged ‘ALEC in Iowa’
…because they didn’t write it… and apparently, haven’t read it.
Need more proof #ALEC #KochBros #AFP wrote the bill to gut collective bargaining behind closed doors without input from Iowans? Watch this. The Republican Chair of the Labor Committee can’t answer basic questions and doesn’t even have a copy of the bill. #ialegis #saveIAworkers
Need more proof #ALEC #KochBros #AFP wrote the bill to gut collective bargaining behind closed doors without input from Iowans? Watch this. The Republican Chair of the Labor Committee can't answer basic questions and doesn't even have a copy of the bill. #ialegis #saveIAworkers
Posted by Iowa House Democrats on Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Monday, in honor of the opening day of the 2016 Iowa legislative session, BFIA posted about the State Policy Network, a web of so-called think tanks, apparently founded by ALEC, that push a right-wing agenda in every state across the country, yes, including Iowa http://stinktanks.org/what-stinks/.
The so-called Public Interest Institute, so-named to disguise the fact that it is anything but interested in the public interest, is located in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa on the Iowa Wesleyan campus and is a member of the State Policy Network. The information here about this creepy anti-science, anti-union, pro-climate change denial, organization is from the Center for Media and Democracy’s publication, SourceWatch, but you can also visit their website and see for yourself.
The Public Interest Institute (PII) is a “non-profit, non-partisan, public policy research organization located on the campus of Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.” The PII researches issues “such as limiting government spending and privatization of government services” as well as “principles and methods to promote and encourage human rights, economic freedom, economic growth, and the creation of jobs… in Iowa.” PII is a member of the State Policy Network
In 2009 the institute was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s 2009 conference for climate change skeptics.
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The Public Interest Institute has hosted writers from the ALEC-connected Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which screens potential reporters on their “free market” views as part of the job application process. The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states. Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias. On its website, the Franklin Center claims it “provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide.”[8
Franklin Center Funding
Franklin Center Director of Communications Michael Moroney told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in 2013 that the source of the Franklin Center’s funding “is 100 percent anonymous.” But 95 percent of its 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust, a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable that functions as a large “donor-advised fund,” cloaking the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country (CPI did a review of Franklin’s Internal Revenue Service records). Mother Jones called DonorsTrust “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement” in a February 2013 article. Franklin received DonorTrust’s second-largest donation in 2011.
The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a conservative grant-making organization.
The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM), a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network, which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation. SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
PII has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) through Richard Vedder, a member of their advisory board. Mr. Vedder is listed as a “scholar” at the American Legislative Exchange Council and is the recipient of ALEC’s Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award.
Please see SPN Ties to ALEC for more.
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 wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Board of Directors
David M. Stanley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Robert H. Solt, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer
Dr. Donald P. Racheter, President
Andrea S. Failor, Secretary
Charles C. Espy, Jr.
Stanley M. Howe, Director Emeritus
Academic Advisory Board
Dr. Richard Wagner – George Mason University, chair
Dr. Robert Bish – University of Victoria
Dr. Edgar Browning – Texas A&M
Dr. Richard McKenzie – University of California at Irvine
Dr. William Peirce – Case Western Reserve University
Dr. Randy Simmons – Utah State University
Dr. Eugenia Toma – University of Kentucky
Dr. Gordon Tullock – George Mason University
Dr. Richard Vedder – Ohio University
Dr. Bruce Yandle – Clemson University
Total Revenue: $1,119,463
Total Expenses: $510,401
Net Assets: $7,198,734
Total Revenue: $1,661,139
Total Expenses: $530,950
Net Assets: $6,589,672
600 North Jackson Street
Mount Pleasant, IA 52641
In honor of the opening day of the 2016 Iowa legislative session, we invite you to partake of some background information that will help make sense of those seemingly crazy ideas of Governor Branstad and the Iowa GOP legislators, like dismantling public education. If you’ve ever made a perplexed comment on social media, or just asked yourself, why?, read this.
Earlier this spring, Republicans in the Iowa House passed two ALEC model bills. One would strip away consumer protections by lowering the statute of repose for construction defects and another unworkable idea deals with state budgeting. They are both bad ideas and I voted against them.
Following the ALEC playbook, House Republicans have even refused to bring up a bipartisan minimum wage bill that has already passed the Iowa Senate. Since the last time a minimum-wage increase was approved in 2007 with 79 votes, there’s no question it would pass the House with bipartisan support again this year if Republicans would bring it up. – Mark Smith is a State Representative and Democratic Leader in the Iowa House of Representatives. firstname.lastname@example.org
THE STATE POLICY NETWORK
What Is The State Policy Network?
The State Policy Network (SPN) is a web of so-called “think tanks” that push a right-wing agenda in every state across the country. Although many of SPN’s member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, an in-depth investigation by non-profit, non-partisan investigative reporting groups the Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Now reveals that the State Policy Network and its affiliates are major drivers of the right-wing, ALEC-backed agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders, all while reporting little or no lobbying activities.
What Is The State Policy Network’s Agenda?
The State Policy Network largely pushes a right-wing, corporate-backed agenda aimed at attacking the middle class. The State Policy Network and its affiliates push for privatizing public schools [italics BFIA’s], blocking expanded access to health care, lowering taxes for corporations and the very wealthy, undermining workers’ rights and unions, and a polluter’s agenda that attacks environmental protections. Some State Policy Network “think tanks” have even advocated for voter suppression laws that make it harder for Americans to vote and opposed common-sense gun safety bills.
How Is the State Policy Network Related to ALEC?
The State policy Network and many of its affiliates are members of the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where corporate lobbyists and special interest group representatives vote as equals with state lawmakers behind closed doors on “model” legislation that in many cases ends up benefiting the corporations’ bottom line. The State Policy Network has played a major role in supporting ALEC, serving as a “chairman” level sponsor of the 2013 and 2011 ALEC Annual Conferences and acting as a voting member of several task forces. State Policy Network affiliates push parts of ALEC’s agenda in their respective states, and ALEC is also an associate member of the State Policy Network. State Policy Network and its affiliates have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to ALEC.
How Does the State Policy Network Push Its Agenda?
While State Policy Network members call themselves “think tanks,” they rarely act as such. State Policy Network groups often engage in extensive lobbying activities, even though nonprofits are limited in the amount of lobbying activity they may participate in by the IRS. State Policy Network “think tanks” release “research” and policy reports, and there are numerous instances of State Policy Network think tanks being accused of skewing facts and using faulty research to reach their policy goals. Many State Policy Network think tanks also collaborate with the right-wing Franklin Center to launch agenda-driven “news” outlets, hawking right-wing talking points from behind a mask of journalism.
Terry Branstad is a founding member of ALEC. Blog for Iowa has mentioned this dozens of times. Curiously, the page where you used to be able to find the original members of ALEC on alec.org has been taken down.
Find out more about ALEC’s influence in Iowa here in a guest opinion by Mark Smith in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
The headline of this story, Branstad Advocates for School Choice, makes it sounds like Governor Branstad is doing something good. Nothing could be further from the truth. Branstad is signaling his next move to dismantle public education. He is following the ALEC agenda to privatize everything, including education.
The article is about Branstad’s plan to lay the groundwork for further erosion of public school funding while directing more money for private schools.
DES MOINES | Gov. Terry Branstad touted himself as a champion for school choice Wednesday and pledged to try to boost funding next year for a tax credit supporting scholarships for low-income students attending private schools if state finances allow for an increased investment.
Branstad also told the group that funding for tax breaks to private K-12 school donors under the state’s student tuition organization tax credit has increased from $7.5 million in 2010 to $12 million now and he would seriously consider ACE’s request to boost it to $15 million in the fiscal 2017 state budget.
The GOP governor’s comments come at a time when public education advocates claim Iowa school children are being short-changed after a contentious 2015 budget session in which the Legislature forged a bipartisan plan to spend an extra $55.7 million in one-time money for K-12 schools, which Branstad vetoed.
Oops – that is, former ALEC chair Linda Upmeyer chosen as new Iowa House Speaker. But they are pretty much interchangeable. She and ALEC founding father Terry Branstad will make a formidable team that will work hard for corporations, privatization of public services, and more.
Look for Republicans to continue to cut school funds, bust unions, defund public services and push guns – guns on campus maybe? Guns on campus is the new market the NRA and ALEC want to exploit.
Next session will be a long session for anyone who believes that we band together in a government to solve mutual problems for the good of the whole.
On the Iowa Senate Democrats website:
The Legislature closed out the 2015 session with Senate Democrats opting to end five months of gridlock on school funding. The goal of the compromise is to maintain educational opportunities and boost student achievement.
The final agreement provides an additional $156 million for the 2015-16 school year. The compromise includes a 1.25 percent increase in basic aid for our local schools as well as an extra $56 million in one-time funding for Iowa schools this fall.
The attention now turns to Governor Terry Branstad, who must sign this funding or veto the compromise. A veto would result in larger class sizes, fewer course offerings and extracurricular activities, and higher property taxes. Please contact the Governor, and ask him to sign into law the school funding approved by the Legislature in Senate File 510 and House File 666. You can e-mail him by going to www.governor.iowa.gov/constituent-services/register-an-opinion or call his office at 515-281-5211.
After several lean years, Iowa’s improving economy makes it possible to do more for our students and schools. The state has nearly $1 billion in savings, but as support for our public schools has become divided along party lines, Iowa’s investment has dropped to $1,600 less per student than the national average.
In addition to ensuring our K-12 schools can make ends meet this fall, we also voted this year for:
• Continuing a teacher leadership effort that is bringing the best techniques to more classrooms.
• Affordable tuition, job training and skilled workforce initiatives at our community colleges.
• An increase for our state universities that should allow them to continue their tuition freeze.
• Need-based financial aid to help Iowans attend our private colleges.
As we set our sights on funding for the 2016-17 school year, Senate Democrats will continue to work with parents, teachers, community leaders and students to make the case for investing more in educational opportunities that help Iowans of all ages build a successful future.
“No one should be getting fired because we aren’t abiding by the laws of this state.”
Governor Branstad and Iowa’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives propose only a 1.25 percent increase ($50 million) in state funding for elementary and secondary schools in Iowa’s 338 public school districts. This meager increase would keep Iowa’s schools 37th among the 50 states for state-funding level. Iowa’s total expenditure per student is also well below the national average. This puny allocation would put Iowa’s per-pupil payment at 35th among our sister states.
The Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday—on a straight 26-24 party-line vote—overcame Republican opposition to seek a 4 percent increase ($212 million). Earlier, the Democratic Senate caucus had discussed proposing a larger, 6 percent increase.
Democrats are right that the 4 percent increase is the absolute least needed to bring our schools up to the standards met in other states, such as Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Nebraska. The 1.25 percent proposed by the Republicans would not even cover the increase in costs due to inflation.
Yet, Senate Republicans lamented that they truly want better schools. But they won’t put our money behind their alleged “want.” Instead, they question the “sustainability” of the 4 percent funding level. They would let our public school system deteriorate more.
It does not make sense. The Republicans—through former Secretary of State Matt Schultz—wasted almost a million dollars trying to prove we need “voter identification.” All Schultz proved was there is no voter fraud. Thank goodness it was mostly federal money that Schultz wasted.
As if that was not enough, however, the new Republican Secretary of State, Paul Pate, is now spending even more money in efforts to show that ever-elusive “voter fraud” so they can slap new “voter identification” on our people, thus barring many—mostly poor, old and minority voters—from voting. We all know there is no election fraud. When is the last time you saw “election fraud?”
Yet, the GOP in our state government spend millions hunting down a bogey-man the GOP says is election fraud. And then we can’t give 4 percent/$212M for our children?
No, it does not make sense at all.
What about when Governor Branstad and the GOP in 2012 forced another “economic development” project on us. Branstad said that Iowa had to give Orascom, an Egyptian corporation, “incentive” to put its fertilizer plant in Wever. The incentive was our tax dollars. Through GOP largesse, we taxpayers provided Orascom $100 million in tax credits, $1.6 million in loans, $7.4 million in sales tax refunds, $60,000 in supplemental research tax credits, a $2 million state transportation grant, and about $1.8 million for job training assistance. Branstad did not take account of that Orascom had already been given by the U. S. government about $300 million in savings from a federal tax-exempt bond program; and another $133 million by Lee County in forgone property taxes from the county. The return on Branstad’s Orascom “buy”—165 jobs for an unstated number of years. Those 165 jobs were thus estimated by Sen. Joe Bolkcom to cost us taxpayers about $3.3 million per job. We give an Egyptian private company hundreds of millions to make more money for their shareholders? We can’t give 4 percent/$212M for our children?
I can’t accept the Republicans questioning the “sustainability” of providing a 4 percent increase in public school funding. They sustain spending that is wasteful and pointless if it meets the GOP ends. They should make our children part of their ends.
Education should be priority No. 1. It represents our children’s best future. There is nothing more important than that. We do have to try harder to help our children. They deserve our best.
Please contact your legislators and make sure we get what our children need. Here’s the link to find your state legislators: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators.
Thank you, Melissa Harris-Perry and MSNBC reporter Zachary Roth for covering this egregious incident. The woman in this story was a victim of domestic violence who served 5 years probation for a drug-related crime. When she successfully completed her sentencing, she set out to put her life back together and to her, that included the civic responsibility of voting. But instead of being able to move forward with her new life, she was arrested and charged with the crime of voting.
Kelli Griffin had no idea that the law had changed since Branstad got back in office. Her lawyer had told her her voting rights would be restored. She had no idea it was now illegal in Iowa for people who have served time and who have paid their debt to society, to vote. She even had to stand trial for making this honest mistake that harmed no one. Fortunately, a jury acquitted her.
This is the work of the Terry Branstad administration. The irony is he is considered “moderate.”
Thanks to Matt Sinovic of Progress Iowa for his exemplary work monitoring ALEC’s activities in Iowa.
ALEC WATCH: New Report Details Corporate Influence in Iowa
To take action or ask questions about ongoing ALEC activity in Iowa, contact Progress Iowa ALEC WATCH Hotline: (515) 428-1556 | Via email: email@example.com
Progress Iowa Tuesday released ALEC WATCH, in an ongoing effort to expose the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and to empower Iowans to hold their elected leaders accountable.
Key findings in the report include:
In Iowa, Senator Ernst, Governor Branstad, and the state legislators serving in leadership positions in ALEC have received more than $563,000 in direct campaign donations from ALEC corporations. Due to the opaqueness of independent spending a complete total will never be known, but ALEC members spent more than $4.2 million in independent expenditures to elect Sen. Ernst.
– ALEC appears to be on the decline, but the organization continues to reinvent itself and adapt. Thanks to transparency efforts across the country, ALEC’s corporate membership may be on the decline. Leaked documents and public statements show that 100 corporate members have left ALEC, forcing a budget crisis for the organization. The corporate exodus has continued recently, with companies like Google, and eBay leaving. ALEC has responded by discussing moving to attract new corporate industries, and recently created an effort to influence local government officials en masse and advance ALEC’s agenda. The ALEC hotline and statewide educational effort will empower Iowans to play a more active role in their local government and stand up to the influence of ALEC.
– ALEC distorted its membership figures to the public. Internal ALEC documents reported on in December of 2013 show that the organization considers all 150 Iowa legislators to be members, despite the public denial of membership by every Democratic member of the Iowa legislature. ALEC’s response to questions regarding membership was lacking, and response from Iowa leadership was nearly nonexistent. Because of these discrepancies and, ALEC’s efforts to influence legislators in Iowa is more opaque than any other state.
– ALEC model bills continue to be introduced in the Iowa legislature. Progress Iowa identified at least nine bills with ALEC influence from the most recent legislative session. Bills to privatize education, weaken consumer standards, and the annual iterations of ALEC’s ‘stand your ground’ model were introduced.
ALEC continues to promulgate an aggressive agenda of deregulation and corporate cronyism. ALEC has shown indications that it will continue to advance its issues in Iowa and across the nation including the privatization of education, the erosion of consumer protections, rigging the courts, and attacking workers. Efforts like this report are the only means to track this influential organization.
ALEC WATCH was compiled by the staff of Progress Iowa, with assistance from a number of partner organizations and volunteers. The report relies on and would not be possible without research from ProgressNow, the Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, People For the American Way, the Iowa Policy Project, as well as other sources of public information. As information about ALEC in Iowa becomes available to the public, supplemental reports may be issued to offer a more complete picture of ALEC’s influence on our democratic process in the state legislature and across Iowa. View the full report below.
For additional information and further reading about ALEC, we recommend the following sources:
ALEC Exposed, produced by Center for Media and Democracy: http://www.alecexposed.org
Blog for Iowa: All posts about ALEC: http://www.blogforiowa.com/tag/alec/
Internal ALEC documents reported on by the Guardian in 2013, published at the 40th annual ALEC meeting in 2013: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/841593-alec-docs.html
Progress Report, the blog of Progress Iowa: http://progressiowa.org/sections/progress-report
Common Cause’s posted ALEC documents: http://www.commoncause.org/issues/more-democracy-reforms/alec/
Download the full report here: ALEC Watch