Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Hath ALEC Wrought?

The Los Angeles Times reports on
. . . .a relatively little-known, Washington-based nonprofit group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Composed of more than 1,500 conservative state legislators and executives of some of the nation's biggest corporations, ALEC collects millions of dollars in corporate contributions to generate a steady stream of bills and resolutions for state action.
The Center for Media and Democracy reports that ALEC differs radically from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) may appear on the surface to mimic the bipartisan educational archetype of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), but ALEC's corporate governance structure, near total reliance on corporate funding, and strong ties to legislators from predominantly one political party make it distinctly different.
The LA Times reports that officials "from every state are members of ALEC, many of them top GOP officials who champion the group's causes."

In South Dakota, Kristi Noem is an ALEC alumna.  Secretary of State Jason Gant serves on the organization's Public Safety and Elections Task ForceState Senator Deb Peters and State Representative Valentine Rausch serve as the group's state chairpersons.

Let's be clear.  ALEC is not the Illuminati or some other secret group set out to destroy the country.  That being said, I think this group is further proof that corporate power permeates America's political system in an unhealthy way.

Further, I am curious about the following:
  • I haven't gone through the list of bills proposed in South Dakota and list of ALEC written bills, but it would be good to know how many South Dakota laws and regulations emanate from ALEC.
  • It would also be interesting to know how many regulations have been eliminated through the organization's influence
  • How many other South Dakota legislators have participated in the group's conferences?
  • Also, there's no list of members of the South Dakota Legislative Research Council who may have attended ALEC conferences.  It would be interesting to know if any member of the LRC has had used the group's templates.
  • In a small state, it seems that local media should be able to keep track of what informs legislation.  Why hasn't the media checked this group out?  Why do I have to read about it in the Los Angeles Times?
  • Conservatives claim that the states are laboratories of democracy.  I'm curious why conservatives want states to have universal legislation but don't want the federal government to have national mandates.

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