Posts Tagged ‘ALEC in Iowa’
Rep. Greg Forristall Ignores Public Records Request, Claims All Iowa Legislators are ALEC Members
Des Moines, Iowa — Rep. Greg Forristall ignored a request to release information about the May 2-3 meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where he will serve as Chair of the Education Task Force, according to correspondence released by Progress Iowa today. Forristall also claimed that all Iowa legislators are members of ALEC, despite reports to the contrary from members of the Iowa House and Senate.
“Representative Forristall failed to meet his own definition of participatory democracy,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “In order for Forristall’s constituents and all Iowans to fully participate in the democratic process – which he claims to want – the Representative should release all documents related to the ALEC meeting in May, as well as information detailing how much of our tax dollars are being spent to fund this secretive organization.”
The records request was sent in part as a response to a column Forristall wrote last month defending ALEC. Progress Iowa has engaged in a longstanding effort to educate the public about ALEC, which has been described as a “corporate bill mill” by local and national media due to the influence it grants to corporations with legislators.
Rep. Forristall’s column, published in the Des Moines Register on March 20, 2013, described the “participatory” nature of government, and described ALEC as having a “voluntary membership.” Despite what he wrote, Forristall chose to ignore a request to make public documents that would shed light on the otherwise secret activities of ALEC. The Iowa Supreme Court has denoted the House is exempt from disclosing the data Progress Iowa is seeking.
In an email message to Rep. Forristall on April 17, Progress Iowa’s Executive Director Matt Sinovic requested that he release the following information: any “35-Day Mailing” from ALEC (they typically send a mailing 35 days prior to their meeting with information about upcoming proposals); the roster of ALEC members in Iowa; the roster of membership in Forristall’s education task force; financial records detailing payments from the State of Iowa to ALEC for the payment of membership dues and any other payments.
Forristall responded with just one sentence, ignoring the remainder of the requests: “Mr. Sinovic, All Senate and House members of the Iowa Legislature are members of ALEC, NCSL, and CSG.” However, the Iowa House Democratic caucus sent a request before the legislative session that none their members join ALEC. During the past several years House members have automatically been “opted in” to ALEC membership, and their request was meant to pre-empt that membership and any taxpayer funded dues associated with membership.
Progress Iowa is asking all Iowans to contact Rep. Forristall to ask him to live up to his definition of participatory democracy, and release the requested information about ALEC membership and the May 2-3 meeting in Oklahoma City. For more information visit progressiowa.org.
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
A new report from the Iowa Policy Project and Good Jobs First is warning folks around the country to take note: Ideas for bad public policy have friends in state legislatures, and Iowa is no exception. Here’s what IPP sent out last week:
One purveyor of those bad ideas is a corporate-oriented outfit called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. That organization puts out a report annually called Rich States, Poor States, ranking states for their adherence to what ALEC likes to tell people are policies that promote growth. One problem: They don’t promote growth. And now Iowans and residents of other states have a research-based resource that will help them to sort fact from fiction when the traveling medicine show rolls into their state capitals.
That resource is the new report from IPP’s Peter Fisher and GJF’s Greg LeRoy and Philip Mattera, who dissect the ALEC report and not only expose its flawed methodology, but show what happens when you look at all 50 states and how well (or poorly) they actually do on important economic measures when they follow the ALEC formula.
The report by IPP and Good Jobs First is not an academic exercise; the Iowa General Assembly starts up again in January, and ideas about what’s ahead already are circulating. The report shows that when politicians are peddling tax cuts as a sure path to economic prosperity, it’s time to check the bottle for the ingredients. Snake oil is going to be at the top of the list.
Here are links to resources on the IPP website and blog:
A link to the full report (PDF): http://www.iowafiscal.org/2012docs/121128-snakeoiltothestates.pdf
Peter Fisher’s blog post on Iowa Policy Points: http://iowapolicypoints.org/2012/11/29/states-should-beware-alec-brand-snake-oil/
ALEC’s rankings are based on arguments and evidence that range from deeply flawed to nonexistent, consistently ignoring decades of peer-reviewed academic research.
What we know from research is that the composition of a state’s economy — whether it has disproportionate shares of high-growth or low-growth industries — is a far better predictor of a state’s relative success over the past five years. Public policy makers need to stick to the basics and recognize that public services that benefit all employers.
We are seeing a lot of attention from around the country, as we noted above. On Saturday, Bill Moyers posted about it on Facebook:
A new study shows that recommendations from ALEC, the pro-corporate organization we investigate in this week’s rebroadcast, have a negative impact on state economies.
And other folks around the country are seeing the connections between ALEC and political proposals, and noting the IPP/GJF perspective. See these links:
Finally, if you agree that work like this is important to helping Iowans engage in the policy debates at our State Capitol, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the Iowa Policy Project. You can donate securely online at the link below. There’s no better way to greet the medicine show when it rolls into the capital city than with strong messages backed by good research in support of the investments that represent Iowa values.
20 E. Market St. • Iowa City, IA 52245
(319) 338-0773 • ipp@Lcom.net
[Note from BFIA editor: See links to our previous posts about ALEC on Blog for Iowa below]
Iowa’s Voter Id Bill can be found here: http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&ga=84&hbill=HF95
ALEC Exposed: http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed
ALEC Voter ID Act Template: http://alecexposed.org/w/images/d/d9/7G16-VOTER_ID_ACT_Exposed.pdf
American Legislative Exchange Council: http://www.alec.org/
Previously on Blog for Iowa
All House Democrats have resigned membership in ALEC.
And directly from the ALEC.org page:
To find more articles about ALEC on Blog for Iowa, click on the category “ALEC” in the left-hand sidebar.