Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who is ALEC? And why should you care? ***UPDATED 2/23/2012 - Link to list of Mississippi ALEC members***

The New York Times ran an editorial Sunday that provided some of the most in-depth coverage of the American Legislative Exchange Council ("ALEC") yet.  I've mentioned ALEC on Cottonmouth before (here and here), but I've never really explained who they are, why they matter, and how they are now affecting every Mississippian.

If you've spent time over the past few years paying attention to what is happening with legislatures in other states (especially in the South), then the first six weeks of action at the corner of Mississippi and North Congress Streets in Downtown Jackson probably isn't much of a surprise to you.  That's because Mississippi Republican legislators aren't exactly blazing new trails with their legislative proposals concerning charter schools, virtual schools, and limiting the power of the Attorney General.  They'd love for you to believe that they are crafting unique solutions to Mississippi's problems, but all they're doing is following their marching orders from the American Legislative Exchange Council.

For example, the hottest topic at the Capitol so far this session is limiting the power of the Attorney General.  ALEC has an entire section of their website devoted to this.  And what's the name of that section? "Sunshine in State Attorney Contracts."  Sound familiar?

So why should you care about ALEC?  Well, ALEC was founded by, and is funded by, the largest corporations in America.  ALEC's "Private Enterprise Board", as they call the money folks behind their operation, is made up of representatives from the following: Centerpoint360 (headed by a former US Tobacco executive), Bayer Corporation, GlaxoSmithKline, Reynolds American, Wal-Mart, Energy Future Holdings, Johnson & Johnson, PhRMA, American Bail Coalition, Kraft Foods, Inc., Pfizer, Inc., Reed Elsevier, Inc., DIAGEO, AT&T, Peabody Energy, UPS, Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, Coca-Cola Refreshments, Altria Client Services, ExxonMobil, Salt River Project, and State Farm Insurance Co.

And it's this Private Enterprise Board that drives the ALEC agenda and puts model bills into the hands of Mississippi legislators.  These companies are the ones paying for Mississippi legislators to attend conferences around the country, where the attendees are handed the model legislation written by said companies.   That's why you should care.

So which legislators are members of ALEC, you ask?  Which legislators are pushing Wall Street's agenda rather than Main Street's?  I'll provide that information in a future post.

***UPDATE 2/23/2012*** - The list of Mississippi legislators in ALEC has bee posted here.


billy b said...

Yep, MS Republicans serving in the state legislature are using the same playbook that majority Republican state legislatures are using all over the USA. Go as far right as possible on women's issues such as reproductive issues, try and take-away state employees, such as teachers, benefits, especially pension benefits, harass all immigrants, "pee-test" all citizens receiving any government issued checks or benefits, ie food-assistance or unemployment insurance, pass a personhood bill even if the voters have overwhelmingly rejected personhood at the voting booth, defund and eliminate all public schools if possible, same playbook everywhere in every state. Sad thing is, when I talk to the regular every day wage earning folks around the state, ones who call themselves very conservative voters, none of this stuff is what they really even care about. They care about JOBS JOBS JOBS, and JOBS JOBS JOBS!!!

bill said...

Before you start knocking ALEC, why don't you look at what they're trying to do? Your only example, sunshine in the AG's office, isn't a bad idea. What's wrong with the public knowing more about which lawyers are getting rich from referrals from the AG's office? Are you saying that your reaction would be the same if a left leaning group had made this same suggestion with a Republican AG? Good ideas are good ideas, and they don't become bad just from who proposed them. Bill Billingsley

lotta said...

Bill, before you start defending ALEC, perhaps give a thought to why you think it's a good idea for corporations to be affecting public policy.

lotta said...

Sorry wrong link. Try this one for a greater specific example: http://www.commonblog.com/2012/01/31/alec-exposed-for-24-hours/

Mannequin said...

Thank you, lotta. I joined www.commoncause.com after reading that ALEC boasts 2,000 legislative members.
Now I know who financed House Insurance Committee Chairman, Gary Chism, the auto insurance agency owner from Columbus, of sponsoring legislation requiring fines on drivers not properly insured. I oppose drivers not carrying insurance. I also oppose lawmakers making profits on bills they write.
The Ethics Commission executive director, Tom Hood, calls Chism's actions being in a "gray area".