The influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Ohio runs deep, according to a new report released by Progress Ohio, together with the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), People for the American Way, and Common Cause. The report shows how Ohio's legislators are working in tandem with corporate leaders to deregulate key industries, privatize education and dismantle unions.
The report, ALEC in Ohio: The Corporate Special Interests that Help Write Ohio's Laws, is available here.
The report was developed with documentation from CMD's ALECexposed.org. Last year, CMD unveiled a trove of over 800 "model" bills and resolutions secretly voted on by corporations and politicians through ALEC's task forces, including bills that served as a template for Ohio's union-busting SB5. As citizens have become more aware of the extraordinary influence of corporations in drafting dramatic changes to the law and then pre-voting these bills through ALEC task forces, more and more Americans have expressed outrage over the marriage of powerful special interests and politicians.
"Ohio is led by ALEC alum John Kasich, who has long advanced the agenda of ALEC corporations to the detriment of American citizens during his time in Congress and now in the statehouse in the Buckeye state," said Lisa Graves, the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, adding, "we applaud the work of Progress Ohio and the other citizen groups that have worked to expose the way Ohio's laws are being distorted to aid the global corporations that back ALEC, including efforts to push a privatization agenda that takes funding for public services and buildings made possible by hardworking taxpayers and converts these public assets into profit streams for some of the richest corporations in the world. Ohioans rebuked Kasich for advancing the ALEC corporation agenda last year, and we expect his extremist agenda will be rebuked yet again."
ALEC, founded in 1973 by right-wing activists who helped found Moral Majority and the Heritage Foundation and who thought President Nixon was too liberal, has reached a peak in its influence and boasts that hundreds of its "model" bills are introduced in state legislatures across the country each year, and that many become law. ALEC politicians routinely cleanse the bills of any reference to ALEC or the fact that corporate lobbyists had pre-voted on them.
The report from the Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, People for the American Way, and Progress Ohio found at least 33 ALEC-inspired bills had been introduced in Ohio just between January and October of 2011, containing elements from at least 64 ALEC bills. Nine of those bills have become law.
There were undoubtedly a great number of ALEC bills introduced in earlier legislative sessions. ALEC boasts that, on average, 17% of the ALEC bills that are introduced each year make it into law. This likely means a significant number of laws currently on Ohio's books were secretly pre-approved by out-of-state corporate interests.
"Many provisions of the laws that govern the rights and responsibilities of all state residents were secretly pre-approved by corporate interests with a narrow, self-serving agenda," said Brendan Fischer, Law Fellow with the Center for Media and Democracy/ALECexposed. "That is simply outrageous and a serious distortion of our American democracy."
The report demonstrates ALEC's policymaking influence with an in-depth analysis of the organization's ties to key Ohio lawmakers, as well as a side-by-side comparison of nine ALEC "model" bills and actual Ohio legislation, including:
- Attacks on workers by severely limiting collective bargaining, eliminating public employment through outsourcing and privatizing government functions;
- Diminishing public education through private school voucher programs and private scholarship tax credits;
- Encouraging the privatization of state prisons to benefit the private prison industry;
- Voter suppression bills designed to disenfranchise thousands of eligible Americans;
- Draconian anti-immigrant measures that criminalize undocumented workers and penalize their employers;
- Creation of barriers for consumers and injured parties in seeking justice from corporations in a court of law;
- Measures to prevent implementation of health care reform.
CMD has documented how ALEC bills undermine worker and consumer rights, education, the rights of Americans injured or killed by corporations, health care, and the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. More information is available at www.ALECexposed.org.