The Big Money Behind State Laws, NYT Editorial, 2/13/12

posted Feb 13, 2012, 5:53 AM by Bill Duncan
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EDITORIAL

The Big Money Behind State Laws


Published: February 13, 2012

It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed - in some cases, orchestrated - by a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars.

The American Legislative Exchange Council was founded in 1973 by the right-wing activist Paul Weyrich; its big funders include Exxon Mobil, the Olin and Scaife families and foundations tied to Koch Industries. Many of the largest corporations are represented on its board.

ALEC has written model legislation on a host of subjects dear to corporate and conservative interests, and supporting lawmakers have introduced these bills in dozens of states. A recent study of the group's impact in Virginia showed that more than 50 of its bills were introduced there, many practically word for word. The study, by the liberal group ProgressVA, found that ALEC had been involved in writing bills that would:

.....

¶Encourage school districts to contract with private virtual-education companies. (One such company was the corporate co-chair of ALEC's education committee.) The bill was signed into law.

¶Call for a federal constitutional amendment to permit the repeal of any federal law on a two-thirds vote of state legislatures. The bill failed.

¶Legalize use of deadly force in defending one's home. Bills to this effect, which recently passed both houses, have been backed by the National Rifle Association, a longtime member of ALEC.


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