Monday, March 26, 2012

ALEC: An Indisputably Terrible Organization

For those who don't know the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), it's a horrible organization that drafts up terrible bills for just about every issue on the planet. They make "dummy" bills that can be copied and pasted from state to state so the same horrible ideas can be spread across the country with ease. Wonder why after the 2010 elections it seemed like every state was introducing the same bills over and over? It wasn't a coincidence, they were actually the same bills!

Republic Report has a quick look at 5 areas where ALEC crafts horrible, horrible legislation:
1. Banning Living Wages: ALEC claims to be a conservative group that stands for “limited government.” But the organization has worked to ban local and city governments from setting their own wage laws. ALEC used the model legislation known as the “Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act” to stop cities from deciding how they spend their own taxpayer money by declaring that contracts with government contractors must pay living wages. After Atlanta, Georgia, passed a law saying that it will only use its taxpayer money to hire contractors who pay living wages, the state legislature passed an ALEC bill to ban the city from being able to control its own wage limits.

2. Crippling Collective Bargaining: When state legislatures around the country started introducing “right to work” bills that would cripple unions, they weren’t acting alone. These bills mirrored model legislation pushed by ALEC to undermine labor rights and crush the unions that middle class Americans rely on for good wages and benefits.

3. Privatizing Our Schools: School vouchers — a system where public taxpayer money is used to line the pockets of private schools — are so unpopular that they only exist in a handful of school systems nationwide, while the idea is repeatedly shot down in national polling. Yet in 2011, there was a huge push in various state legislatures for the expansion of school voucher systems. This push was coordinated largely by ALEC and other Big Money financiers. This push for public money for private schools came at the very same time that these legislatures were cutting money for public schools

4. Attacking Voting Rights: ALEC authored the model law, inspiring numerous bills to enact onerous “voter ID” requirements that effectively disenfranchise millions of Americans who do not possess these special IDs for voting, yet are fully eligible to vote. The U.S. Department of Justice recently blocked a Texas voter ID law pushed by ALEC that it deemed discriminatory.

5. Selling Prisons To The Highest Bidder: ALEC has worked closely with its private prison industry sponsors to increasingly privatize the U.S. prison system. It has also pushed harsh laws related to illegal immigration that would put more immigrants in the jails of the very same private prisons that fund ALEC.
If you hear about something terrible at the state level, there's a very good chance ALEC is involved. If you want to learn more about ALEC and how they've effected your state, this site is a good catch-all resource.

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