From ALEC's Secret Board Rooms to the Missouri Capitol
Earlier this month, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) made available over 800 model bills and resolutions secretly voted on by corporate and legislative members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). According to The Nation, which recently published an in depth review of the documents:
ALEC’s model legislation reflects long-term goals…making it harder to hold the economically and politically powerful to account. Corporate donors retain veto power over the language, which is developed by the secretive task forces. The task forces cover issues from education to health policy. ALEC’s priorities for the 2011 session included bills to privatize education, break unions, deregulate major industries, pass voter ID laws and more.
Until recently, it has been difficult to trace the origins of controversial bills popping up in legislatures across the country with curiously similar language. But with the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALEC Exposed website, Missourians can see exactly how secret corporate working groups are writing our laws.
As you will see below, our review of the previously secret documents at ALECExposed.com has found that conservative legislators in Missouri were more than happy to turn over their legislating powers to these unaccountable corporate interests. Sadly, we believe that we’ve only scratched the surface.
RIGHT TO WORK FOR LESS. Sen. Luann Ridgeway and Sen. Jason Crowell’s attacks on Missouri working families are essentially identical to ALEC’s model legislation.
PROPOSITION C. ALEC openly brags that Missouri “passed the ALEC model as a statute” in the form of the poorly-named ‘Health Care Freedom Act.’ According to ALEC, Proposition C was “modeled after the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act…introduced or announced in 42 states.”
MEGA SALES TAX. Rep. Eric Burlison told the House that his Mega Sales Tax proposal cited a “report by the American Legislative Exchange Council that noted a consumption-based sales tax system fuels economic growth.” (Springfield News-Leader, 04/17/09)
“PARENT TRIGGER ACT.” According to the Associated Press, legislation pushed by Reps. Tim Jones and Scott Dieckhaus “would enable parents, if a majority agreed, to convert a public school to a charter or get vouchers to send their children elsewhere if they're unhappy with their current school… Dave Wright, president of the Missouri School Boards' Association, called the bill's three options ‘simple and unproven.”
COX’ “PRIVATE ATTORNEY RETENTION ACT.” Rep. Stanley Cox (R-Sedalia) has publicly acknowledge that ‘his’ legislation was modeled on an ALEC proposal, spurred by concern about fees paid to private lawyers as part of the national settlement with tobacco companies. (Missouri Lawyers Media, 03/20/11)
RESOLUTION ENDORSING ELECTORAL COLLEGE. In 2008, Reps. Bob Dixon (now a Senator) and Mark Parkinson proposed a resolution identical to an ALEC model endorsing the Electoral College. Direct voting in presidential campaigns would make it harder for interest groups to influence elections.
- KOENIG LEGISLATION ENDING DEFINED BENEFIT PLANS FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES. In 2010, Rep. Andrew Koenig admitted that the thinking behind his HB2113 bill came from ALEC, which wants public agencies to “end defined benefit plans and turn to 401(k)-type defined contribution plans.” (News-Leader 2/18/2010) Koenig’s bill was co-sponsored by Reps. McNary, Gatschenberger, Burlison, Emery, Schlottach, Parkinson, Franz, Stream, Scharnhorst, Funderburk, McGhee, Allen, Zerr and Bivins.