Do you know where your tax dollars are going? In some states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kansas taxpayer money is being used to support state lawmakers’ membership in the 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Since the late 1970s, ALEC has discreetly built cozy relationships with mostly conservative legislators and business moguls to adopt “business-friendly” bills in statehouses across the United States.
The group’s reach into state governments runs deep and is slowly coming to light after a spate of highly controversial, anti-worker legislation passed in Ohio and Wisconsin this year.
ALEC is not only crafting legislation that aims to silence your voice in the workplace, it is also using your tax money to promote gatherings for the elite – in order to move their policies forward.
In Pennsylvania, a recent report finds that $50,000 in taxpayer money was used to cater ALEC’s 2007 conference in Philadelphia. The food bill for the conference included $30,450 for roasted chicken breast, $4,000 for Philly cheesesteaks and $3,000 for cheesecake lollipops. Pennsylvania taxpayers also reimbursed state legislators in per diems and for parking and transportation and other fees for the conference. In Wisconsin, 12 current Republican members of the state Senate are reportedly being supported for private membership in ALEC. In Tennessee, a newspaper investigation found a bill where the second half of it was written verbatim from an ALEC model bill.
IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said in a speech on Capitol Hill last week that ALEC is responsible for introducing 856 bills across state legislatures aimed at destroying collective bargaining, dues deductions and other worker rights.
You can find 800 of ALECs model bills on the Center for Media and Democracy’s “ALEC Exposed” site.
ProPublica just published its guide for readers to follow ALEC’s influence on state laws.
You can also read the Nation’s investigative feature on ALEC.
The Washington, DC based nonprofit ALEC is funded in part by the billionaire Koch brothers and describes its mission as to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited governments, federalism and individual liberty.
Union-busting governors such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich are members. Kasich is credited as a founding member on its web site.
Corporations such as ExxonMobil and Koch Industries profit from ALEC legislation. Other corporations, such as R.J. Reynolds and State Farm are known as ALEC supporters.
For fire fighters, the consequences of having these laws enacted are disastrous with more IAFF members being asked to make concessions by their local governments.
Read this toolkit ALEC published making recommendations on how governors should manage the current budget crisis. Side note: ALEC says that current state retirement plans are fiscally unsustainable and suggests that states should increase employee contributions, government/oversight, retirement age and lower health care benefits.
ALEC maintains that there is no coordinated effort to draft and pass similar legislation in states across the country. It says any similarities between bills are because states are running out of money throughout the United States and must take steps to address these fiscal problems.