With the state legislative season set to get under way next month, Virginia offers us a preview of what working family activists are up against. A story in today’s The Washington Post explores some of the more than 50 bills “ghostwritten” for Republican state legislators by the extreme conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress VA, tells the Post that ALEC is:
a secretive organization funded by big corporations, has been writing bills that Virginia legislators are passing off as their own work on everything from education to health care to voting rights.
ALEC bills in Virginia have included new restrictions on voter rights, anti-immigrant legislation and right-wing bills on education, tax breaks for corporations and a new law the Post says “laid the legal groundwork” for Virginia’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Read more in ProgressVA’s report, ALEC Exposed: Who’s Writing Virginia’s Laws.
Along with the more than 2,000 extreme lawmakers from every state, ALEC membership includes more than 300 major corporations such as Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, Kraft Foods, Bayer and Koch Industries. David and Charles Koch, the right-wing extremist billionaire brothers, are major funders of ALEC, according to a July article in The Nation.
Outside of Virginia, ALEC is a major player in the right to work for less fight in Indiana. ALEC backed discriminatory voter suppression laws in several states and efforts to undermine workers rights, including S.B. 5 in Ohio and Wisconsin’s elimination of collective bargaining rights for public employees.
A Common Cause report says ALEC fights to:
secure passage of on legislation that puts corporate interests ahead of the interests of average Americans.
In July, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) issued a report and launched the website ALEC Exposed, which includes the more than 800 ALEC-authored model bills that have been passed or introduced by state lawmakers. CMD Executive Director Lisa Graves says ALEC:
is little more than a bill factory for corporate-friendly legislation that often repeals people’s rights or fattens the corporate bottom line.
That bill factory will be pushing its extremist product in state legislatures throughout the nation in the coming months.