Bills introduced in Nevada to allow machine guns on the Vegas strip, privatize public education, and thwart federal healthcare reform can be tied back to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), according to a new report from ProgressNow Nevada detailing ALEC's influence in that state.
Former Nevada Senator Bill Raggio, the longest-serving senator in state history, was ALEC's National Chair in 1993 and told an ALEC meeting in 1992 that "Those who founded ALEC in 1973 probably did not imagine that in just 20 short years ALEC would grow to become the most influential state-level organization in the country."
ALEC's influence over state law and policy over the past twenty years has been even more expansive, and Nevada is no exception.
For example, in recent sessions, bills have been introduced in the Nevada legislature that resemble the ALEC "Special Needs Scholarship Program Act" and the "Foster Child Scholarship Program Act," both of which send taxpayer dollars to private schools, or the "Great Schools Tax Credit Program" that gives a tax writeoff for private school scholarships. Other bills resemble the Consistency in Firearms Regulation Act, which would bar cities from passing firearm restrictions -- even banning machine guns -- that are more restrictive than the state as a whole.
The report also found that the Nevada Legislative Commission has paid membership dues to ALEC since 1993. Current public records do not extend back that far, so it is impossible to ascertain how many taxpayer dollars have been spent on ALEC, but dues for fiscal year 2012 cost $1,000.
When Progress Now Nevada asked for correspondence between legislators and ALEC via a Public Records Request, the Legislative Council Bureau responded on behalf of Senators saying ALEC communication was "so inextricably intertwined with the policy-making and bill-drafting process that disclosure of the correspondence would inevitably reveal the Senators' deliberations."
According to Progress Now Nevada, "This striking statement admits the great depth of the influence ALEC holds on Nevada's legislative process."
Read the full report here.