By Brendan Fischer on January 09, 2013

Wisconsin's 2011-2012 legislative session saw the introduction of 32 bills or budget provisions reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation -- including Governor Scott Walker's contentious attack on public sector collective bargaining, voter ID legislation, and bills that make it harder for Americans to hold corporations accountable when their products injure or kill -- and 19 of those proposals became law.

What pieces of the ALEC playbook might be on the agenda for the 2013-2014 session, which began this week?

(1) Special Needs Scholarship Act

In 2011, ALEC member Rep. Michelle Litjens introduced AB 110 (which closely resembled the ALEC Special Needs Scholarship Program Act) to divert taxpayer dollars away from public schools to subsidize private, for-profit instruction for children with disabilities and forfeit the protections provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including the right to a "free, appropriate education." The private school accepting the student would receive the aid for the student and the student's former school would lose it. The bill did not pass but legislators are expected to reintroduce the bill this term.

ALEC has been tracking the passage of the Special Needs Scholarship Act across the country.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Education objected to the bill in the strongest terms: "It strips special education students of due process rights and rights to services. It allows for the segregation of students based on disability. It will devastate funding for public education in select districts. It will result in the largest expansion of private school regulation ever seen in Wisconsin and, at the end of the day, no one will have any data to show if it resulted in a better education."

Lobbying hard on the bill in 2011 was the American Federation for Children (AFC), the school privatization group organized and funded by the billionaire DeVos family and whose chief lobbyist is former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen. AFC is also an ALEC member, and Jensen represents the organization on the ALEC Education Task Force and brings legislation for adoption as "model" bills. Open records requests show that on May 17, 2011, AFC lobbyist Brian Pleva emailed staffers for Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, Representative Robin Vos, and Senator Alberta Darling with a copy of the ALEC "model" Special Needs Scholarship Program Act.

In the recall race, American Federation for Children was Walker's third-biggest PAC supporter, spending $555,000.

(2) Voucher schools

Rep. Robin Vos (R-Racine), the ALEC State Chair for Wisconsin and the new Assembly Speaker, has indicated that he plans to expand Wisconsin's private school voucher or "choice" program across the state.

In 1990, Milwaukee was one of the first cities in the nation to implement a school voucher program, based on ALEC model legislation and passed under former Governor Tommy Thompson, who had been involved with ALEC since its early years. Taxpayers have been paying to send low-income students to private and religious schools ever since. In the 2011 budget bill, Governor Walker attempted to expand the school voucher system state-wide, but only succeeded in expanding the program to the Racine area.

Last Spring, the first direct comparison between voucher schools and public schools showed that kids attending private schools on a taxpayer-funded voucher performed worse. "The scores released by the state Department of Public Instruction cast a shadow on the overall quality of the 21-year-old Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

A proposal to expand the Milwaukee-Racine voucher program statewide would likely incorporate elements of ALEC's "Parental Choice Scholarship Accountability Act," as well as different versions of the bill which alter eligibility requirements.

The Milwaukee-based Lynne and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has given millions to ALEC over the years, is also a major funder of so-called "school choice" initiatives nationwide. The Bradley Foundation's president and CEO, Michael Grebe, chaired Walker's campaigns in 2010 and during the 2012 recall.

(3) Tax "Reform"

Assembly Speaker/ALEC State Chair Vos also indicates he plans to reform Wisconsin's tax code in the next session. Though he has recently discussed plans to cut taxes for middle-income taxpayers, just a few months ago he discussed plans for a "flatter" tax and indicated the progressive tax was outdated.

ALEC has dozens of bills to make it harder for government to raise revenue and provide quality services, but has specifically pushed flat income taxes, explaining that the "flat rate system is much preferable to a progressive rate structure."

Last session, the legislature passed Wisconsin Act 9, "The Super-Majority Act" -- introduced at the request of Governor Walker -- which prohibits the state from raising taxes without a two-thirds majority of the legislature. The legislation mirrors the ALEC bill of the same name, "The Super-Majority Act." Wisconsin dodged a bullet when leadership decided to draft the bill as a statute and not a constitutional amendment, because as a state law change to legislative rules it is not legally enforceable if the legislature chooses not to follow it -- avoiding disasters faced by states like California, which added such a provision to the state constitution and has made it almost impossible for the state to raise revenue. The measure has severely damaged the California school system, which has dropped in national rankings from among the top to among the worst, 48th in many surveys of student achievement.

(4) Voter ID

In May 2011, Rep. Vos -- then-chair of the Joint Finance Committee -- stopped all discussion of the budget to take up a non-budgetary matter: a Voter ID bill. Like dozens of other states that introduced restrictive legislation to require ID at the polls since 2011, Wisconsin's voter ID bill reflected the ALEC "model" voter ID act.

In the months after the bill was passed, two separate courts would block the legislation as an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. Dane County Judge David Flanagan found the state's strict voter ID requirement "tells more than 300,000 Wisconsin voters who do not now have an acceptable form of photo identification that they cannot vote unless they first obtain a photo ID card."

"The people's fundamental right of suffrage preceded and gave birth to our Constitution," Dane County District Judge Richard Niess wrote in his earlier decision striking down Wisconsin's voter ID law as unconstitutional. "Not the other way around."

But now-Assembly Speaker Vos has recently said that if the Wisconsin Constitution protects voting rights, then the constitution should be changed.

In a December appearance on WISN's Up Front With Mike Gousha, when asked if he would support a constitutional amendment to require photo ID at the polls, Rep. Vos said, "Yes, I would favor that." But, he added, "it also takes two sessions, so that wouldn't be until 2015, even if we did begin that process."

(5) Right to Work

Ever since his attack on public sector workers, Wisconsinites have been wondering whether Governor Walker and the legislature will introduce anti-union "right to work" legislation for private sector workers, which undermines unions by allowing workers to opt-out of paying the costs of union representation. ALEC has pushed the bill for decades, most recently in Michigan, where that state's bill tracked the ALEC model almost word-for-word.

In early 2010, Walker was filmed having a conversation with Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, who asked Walker if he will "work on these unions" and make Wisconsin a "red" state and "become a Right to Work" state. Walker replied that the "first step" will be "to divide and conquer" Wisconsin unions through a budget bill dealing with public sector workers. One month later Walker introduced his "budget repair bill" to severely limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees (based in part on ALEC model legislation), inspiring months of historic protests and an unprecedented recall campaign.

Walker has recently said that he will not pursue right to work in Wisconsin, and Assembly Speaker/ALEC State Chair Vos says the legislation will not come up for a vote.

But given Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's about-face regarding his position on right-to-work legislation and the ongoing push for the law in Wisconsin by David Koch's Americans for Prosperity, Wisconsin labor leaders are worried.

More of the Same for Wisconsin?

After a contentious few years in Wisconsin, the state's Republicans have pledged moderation and bipartisanship this term. We'll believe it when we see it. But the numbers suggest that steamrolling the ALEC agenda through the Republican-controlled legislature has hardly paid off: Wisconsin still ranks 42nd out of the 50 states in private sector job creation.

Comments

We need a public-interest anti-ALEC group to draft model bills for the 99%.

We need public-interest lobbying teams on each issue the moneyed interests lobby on.

One very successful public-interest lobbying group is the Citizens’ Utility Board. With a tiny budget, it wins large savings for residential customers, off of the excessive rate increases utilities want. The CUB is a handful of hardworking, knowledgeable people, ferreting out the facts to counter the deceptions and obfuscations of the big utilities.
http://www.wiscub.org/index.php?module=cms&page=113

Part of the reason the CUBs are so successful is that decision-making is not by politicians but by an impartial, knowledgeable commission, in utility rate cases. Transferring decision-making on mining, agriculture, banking, medical services price regulation, insurance, and so on to such commissions should be a priority for public-interest lobbying.

We can’t stop lobbying by moneyed interests. We shouldn’t even if we could: even the wealthy have the right to express their views. What we must do is play them at the lobbying game. We can beat them—truth has a well-known liberal bias. We must play.

I fear the almost daily mention of skills-based educational initiatives, training of students for skills "needed," by area industry, is just another name for provisions that will siphon more funds from public education for made to order workers for industry. More costs being borne by taxpayers for the sole benefit of industry. Another description of a voucher scheme meant to break more traditional concepts of public education, wrapped up in a different word-framing.

As MSM is parroting every new "concept," being spoon-fed them, sources, even like WPR, repeat these memes without analysis as "news," thereby offering free publicity and misdirection for entities promoting the eventual privatization of everything in the public domain. Sad commentary for sure.

ALEC owns Scott Walker he says proudly in his biography. Walker will never be intimidated by the people. He knows ALEC has always PAID his way since 1992.
Scott Walker remembers creating jobs as assemblyman in Wisconsin . It was easy with ALEC. 32000 UNION public sector jobs. It is not as easy this time with out using your tax dollars. Scott Walker has created ALL Wisconsin`s budget problems working for ALEC. When Scott Walker was a state representative and the chairman of the Assembly Corrections Committee, he introduced bills that would privatize state prison operations and that would allow private corrections companies to open prisons in Wisconsin to house inmates from other states. This allowed outsourcing our Prisoners in several states.

In 1995 Walker and Prosser as state assemblymen championed for ALEC with truth in sentencing telling the legislatures it would not cost a dime it was to give judges not parole boards the control over sentencing. Then Walker filibustered to stop sentencing changes after the fact misleading ALL the legislatures. With out the sentencing changes Wisconsin`s prisons quadrupled over night. Most people sentenced to 2 years now had to serve as much as 6o years. As the Wisconsin Budget watch Blog shows . Stopping just a percentage of these long sentences Wisconsin would save 707 million per year. Wisconsin could have free tuition colleges. It shows Wisconsin has wasted 100 billion if you add the numbers to the state budget since 1995. Not including the building new or remodeling of 71 courthouses & 71 county jails & 441 police stations and dozens of prisons 28 billion plus interest. It is 2.5 billion annually out of the state budget just to maintain these Palaces called jails and courthouses. No expense spared. The total is over 28 BILLION plus the 60 Billion spent by social services to support prisoners families because the bread winner was a political prisoner as US Att gen Eric Holder explained. Then farming out prisoners in several states until the courts realized it was not allowed in the Wisconsin constitution. Wisconsin then hired 32000 union public sector workers to fill the jobs housing the prisoners from deputies , judges, district attorneys all owe Walker for creating there jobs. 32000 UNION PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS. This cost taxpayers over 3.8 billion or a half million per day to house these EXTRA prisoners per day in Milwaukee county alone. Wisconsin claims it has 24,000 prisoners compared to Minnesota`s 5500. Wisconsin`s corrections population is 104,000 with many in half way house and county jails and county prisons that are not counted. . In 1995 Milwakee county had less than 200 prisoners now it has thousands. When Prosecutors Mishandle Cases, Everyone Pays…Except For Them
Is Scott Walker moving Wisconsin forward ?
This your reason for budget problems in Wisconsin. Big spender big government Scott Walker. Why does he not work for the people he is taking his check from the people ? Walker has ALEC on his Biography and is proud of this scam. ALEC has no place in any democracy. Ronald Reagan said where collective bargaing and UNIONS are not allowed Democracy and freedom is lost. Unions created the great American miracle so everyone could prosper. Reagan calls Walker a communist . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsHXJr8tqP0In In walker`s America we have slave labor like in Fred Koch`s RUSSIA. Could or would an Amercan consider any type of voter suppression ? Could or would an American end liberty and justice for all for personal gain ? Could or would an American not take care of it`s own people ?
Walkers is KKK/KGB/NRA/Flea bagger/GOP/ALEC and Nazi who are all the same group now supported by david koch`s tea Party .
This ends all rumor that Scott walker even considers the constitution or liberty and justice for all. these Are Koch`s / ALEC ideals from fred Koch in Russia where he made his first millions.
http://wjacact.blogspot.com/ This would end or slow down many of the states criminal regimes called justice systems in Wisconsin . ALEC and Scott Walker have ruined generations of our youth for personal and agency gain. This has allowed ALEC corporations and Scott Walker to scam BILLIONS off the Wisconsin taxpayer.
BIG SPENDER , BIG GOVERNMENT & HUGE CORPOARTION is ALL SCOTT WALKER knows. He hurts all the rest.
Scott Walker will Pray in church or sunday and pray on the people all week long.
Scott Walker Not educating children is child abuse. Websters Dictionary says to change what is norm for persnal, political, or religous reasons is an act of perversion. This is walkers agenda to pervert America to koch`s russian Communism. PRISON SLAVE LABOR just like Fred Koch used in Russia. walker is allowing Koch to win the COLD WAR for his Russia.
This is Paul Ryan when he was still supporting America. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz9XPZa2MKw

Bill Moyers presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.