|Bush Greeting ALEC, 2007|
State legislators from every corner of America are flocking to New Orleans today, summoned to the Big Easy by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is the clearing house for Big Business's legislative whims. Elected officials show up for a closed door session, get their marching orders in the form of business-proposed legislation, collect their parting gifts and return to their respective assemblies to do as they're damned well told and bugger the voting public.
PR Watch reports industry giants such as Koch Industries, Bayer, Kraft, Coca-Cola, State farm, AT&T, WalMart and Philip Morris will be on hand to unveil their wish list legislation.
ALEC is little more than a bill factory for corporate-friendly legislation that often repeals people’s rights or fattens the corporate bottom line. We think citizens have a right to know that these Fortune 100 firms “have a voice and a vote” through ALEC on bills before they are introduced in state houses, cleansed of the fact that corporations already voted on them. ALEC’s hot bills lately have sought to require voter ID, promote tobacco products flavored to appeal to kids, privatize Medicare and Medicaid, privatize prisons and public schools, and legalize the harassment of immigrants.
ALEC’s arsenal includes bills to make it harder for people to band together to negotiate with employers through unions. The ALEC “Public Employee Bargaining Transparency Act,” proposed by Rep. Anthony Ligi (as HB204), was rationalized on the claim that “Increased transparency in labor negotiation meetings and documents serves to provide all parties to the negotiations with an incentive to avoid any hint of corruption; Open sessions and increased oversight help ensure that government is using taxpayer money effectively.” Perhaps Ligi will sponsor a bill to open ALEC's task force meetings, where corporations and legislators vote, to similar sunshine and require disclosure of ALEC’s corporate donors “to avoid any hint of corruption,” especially since taxpayers pay many legislators’ ALEC dues.
Cash-strapped, as in all but bankrupt, Louisiana is forking out $50,000 for 31 legislators to attend the ALEC conference in - Louisiana.
Only in America, eh?