The Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College has selected the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) for its annual "Izzy Award," which recognizes outstanding achievement in independent media. CMD was recognized for its ALEC Exposed project, and shares this year's award with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who was recognized for his exceptional reporting from Tahir Square. The award is named for the legendary I.F. Stone, the maverick investigative journalist who challenged Joe McCarthy's scare campaign and was the first to question the Gulf of Tonkin hoax.
By Harriet Rowan and Sara Jerving
After months of talking about "reforming" Wisconsin's public schools, Republican state legislators are starting to move on a number of proposals. The greatly anticipated bills bear the marks of having been poured through the filter of the American Legislative Exchange Council's agenda for school reform before they were exposed to the light of day.
This week, for instance, there is a hearing on a voucher bill for special needs children that appears to be modeled on the ALEC Special Needs Scholarship Program Act. Other measures are in the works to hold teachers "accountable" for the performance of their students, but not at voucher schools of the type supported by ALEC.
A federal court will rule in coming weeks on Wisconsin's redistricting plan, after sharply criticizing Republican lawmakers for developing the maps under a veil of secrecy and shutting the public out of the process. Along with voter ID legislation inspired by an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model, GOP legislators in Wisconsin appear to be reshaping elections for partisan political advantage.
On February 29th, Occupy groups in over 70 cities will be targeting corporate members of the highly-influential American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is best described as a "bill mill" for corporate special interest legislation. Through ALEC, corporations vote behind closed doors with state legislators on changes to the law they desire that often directly benefit their bottom line. Along with right-wing legislators from across the country, corporations are given "a voice and a vote" on "model" bills to change the law in almost every area affecting people's rights. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces. They fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They have their own corporate governing board. They vote as equals with legislators to pre-approve legislation. Participating politicians then bring these bills home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing their origins in ALEC. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a "unique," "unparalleled" and "unmatched" organization. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door. This is not what democracy is supposed to look like.
A Wisconsin state legislator is filing a bill that would require greater transparency regarding the activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the state.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has been circulating the "ALEC Accountability Act," a bill that would require ALEC to register with the state as a lobbyist and report the funding sources for the "scholarships" funding legislators' travel. Pocan refers to ALEC as a "dating service" for right-wing politicians and corporations who exercise undue influence over state law by crafting "model" legislation behind closed doors.
New Definition for Lobbying
Pocan believes that while ALEC is doing the work of a lobbyist, it is not complying with the reporting and registration requirements asked of all lobbyists. The bill would redefine "lobbying" to include contact with any member, employee, or agent of a body that "proposes uniform, model, suggested, or recommended legislation."
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.
A guest post by Nick Surgey from Common Cause, originally posted on Common Blog.
When Florida Rep. Rachel Burgin (R- 56) introduced a bill in November calling on the federal government to reduce taxes for corporations (HM 685), she made an embarrassing mistake.
Today, hundreds of state legislators from across the nation will head out to an "island" resort on the coast of Florida to a unique "education academy" sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). There will be no students or teachers. Instead, legislators, representatives from right-wing think tanks and for-profit education corporations will meet behind closed doors to channel their inner Milton Friedman and promote the radical transformation of the American education system into a private, for-profit enterprise. (ALEC has claimed no corporate reps will be there but it has refused to let the press attend to see this claim for itself.)
What is ALEC Scoring on Its Education "Report Card?"
Little is known about the agenda of the ALEC education meeting taking place at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island. The meeting is not open to the public and recently even the press has been kicked out of meetings and barred from attendance. So to understand the ALEC agenda with regard to education, it is important to examine ALEC's education "scorecard."
Imagine getting a report card from your teacher and finding out that you were graded not on how well you understood the course material or scored on the tests and assignments, but rather on to what extent you agreed with your teacher's strange public policy positions. That is the best way to understand the American Legislative Exchange Council's 17th Report Card on American Education released last week.
South Carolina is again considering a bill from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to limit access to the ballot box. A nearly identical version of an ALEC voting bill is moving through the state Senate and comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) blocking South Carolina's ALEC-inspired voter ID law as discriminatory against people of color.