Representative Mark Pocan is a Democratic legislator from Wisconsin and a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He joined the organization in order to get an insider's perspective on how the organization worked. He blogged about his experience at ALEC's 2011 meeting in New Orleans for the Progressive Magazine.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), an online activist group, announced that they will be putting pressure on the minority of Democrats who are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to dump ALEC.
ALEC claims that they are a nonpartisan organization that is "bipartisan" like the National Conference of State Legislators, but ALEC's leadership is overwhelmingly Republican as is its membership, a fact conceded by ALEC scholar and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore in a recent interview. ALEC says it has 2,000 legislative members. The total number of Democratic legislators is unknown, but according to the PCCC, there are 26 states with Democratic lawmakers that belong to ALEC.
Online retail giant Amazon is being criticized for its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and accounts of its participation in ALEC illustrate how ALEC's corporate members and funders drive the ALEC agenda.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment on April 18 to the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 (HR 4348) that would effectively pre-empt the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating coal ash, the waste from coal burning plants, as a hazardous waste. About 140 million tons of coal ash are produced by power plants in the United States each year. There are about 1,000 active coal ash storage sites across the country.
According to the EPA, the ash contains concentrations of arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and other metals, but the coal industry has claimed there is less mercury in the ash than in a fluorescent light bulb. However, the EPA found in 2010 that the cancer risk from arsenic near some unlined coal ash ponds was one in 50 -- 2,000 times the agency's regulatory goal. Additionally, researchers from the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, and Sierra Club have documented water contamination from coal ash sites in 186 locations. The new bill would strip the EPA's authority to regulate the ash and hand it over to the states.
Below is an excerpt of the April 21, 2012 front page New York Times expose on ALEC.
New York Times: Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist
By Mike McIntire
Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state.
It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such "false claims" laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC's membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country -- including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.
Just as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) tried to distance itself from its role pushing parts of the NRA's gun agenda and making it more difficult for American citizens to vote, a controversial right-wing operation has announced that it will step in to help carry forward the "voter ID" agenda. The "National Center for Public Policy Research" (NCPPR) announced Wednesday that it will form a "Voter Identification Task Force."
This comes in response to ALEC's announcement Tuesday that it will dismantle its "Public Safety and Elections Task Force" through which corporate lobbyists and elected officials voted behind closed doors to approve "model" legislation that creates obstacles to American citizens voting through restrictive voter ID bills, as well as other damaging legislation, such as reckless gun laws that have been cited to protect violent vigilantes from being held accountable.
This week the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) announced that it would disband its controversial "Public Safety and Elections Task Force" to "Sharpen its Focus on Jobs, Free Markets and Growth." The disbanding of the source of a few of its more extreme proposals on voter ID, "Stand Your Ground/Shoot to Kill," and AZ SB1070 will do little to clean up ALEC's reputation. Each of ALEC's nine task forces is a little shop of horrors of legislative proposals that only Milton Friedman could love.
As the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) comes under increasing scrutiny and both corporate and legislative members sever ties with the organization, the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has jumped in to help.