ALEC Policies Sell ‘Snake Oil to the States’

By Sharon Ward, Third and States

Three national organizations offered a scathing criticism of policies endorsed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, in a conference call with reporters last week. Their findings strike a stake in the heart of ALEC claims that its view of the world – lower taxes, fewer workplace protections, and diminished public investments – is good for the public. 

Pennsylvania state lawmakers who look to ALEC for guidance on economic policy should stand up and take notice. 

Iowa Policy Project research director Peter Fisher discussed a recent report he co-authored with researchers from Good Jobs First, concluding that the tax, budget, and economic prescriptions put forth by ALEC simply don’t work.

Selling Snake Oil to the States took a look at ALEC’s annual Rich States, Poor States report, which ranks states based on their “economic outlooks” as defined by ALEC. The factors should come as no surprise: states with low taxes and right-to-work laws rank high by ALEC; those with progressive taxes, corporate income taxes, and worker protections rank far behind.

Fisher compared the ALEC rankings with actual state performance on real economic indicators over a four-year period. Do ALEC’s policy prescriptions improve state economies? The answer is no.

Between 2007 and 2011, researchers found no relationship between a high ALEC ranking and employment. They did find a correlation on personal incomes and poverty rates among states ranked high by ALEC, but it was a negative one – the better a state fared on the ALEC scale, the worse it did in real life. As Fisher said during the conference call:

It should be hardly surprising that policies to keep wages low have the effect of lowering the state’s income. … The ALEC policy prescriptions for states will not lead to growth and prosperity but to further inequality and lower incomes.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities examined sweeping tax and budget policies that ALEC is currently lobbying for in the states. The policies largely encompass deep tax cuts for wealthy individuals, investors, and corporations that will leave middle- and lower-income families paying more.

Both reports note that the ALEC agenda promotes low wage growth for families, fewer workplace protections, and strategies to starve public investments in education, health care, and other priorities – all of which reputable economists agree are critical to job creation and economic growth.

It is an article of faith among Pennsylvania lawmakers that ALEC policies are good for the economy. These reports provide clear and convincing evidence to the contrary: the arguments that the ALEC agenda are good for real people are nothing but snake oil. The policies are good for the businesses that pour millions into ALEC to promote this agenda. 

Governor Tom Corbett has hidden large expensive new tax cuts to profitable corporations in his budget proposal released this month. This and other ALEC agenda items won’t create jobs, but they will lead to greater inequality, slower income growth, and continued starvation of our public schools, transit systems, and other priorities.

Metcalfe’s Planned Parenthood Bill Would Jeopardize Federal Funds

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the darling of ALEC, has introduced a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.  His illogic is that he wants to prevent state funding of abortions.  Pennsylvania law already prohibits that and no state funds are used to pay for abortions.  What his bill would do is to close 42 health clinics which serve Pennsylvania residents.  These clinics perfomr pap smears, breast and cervical cancer screenings, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing and routine ob/gyn examinations for many poor people for whom Planned Parenthood is their only medical provider.

It would also jeopardize all federal funding for women’s health care through Medicare and Medicaid.  When Texas enacted a similar law it lost $35 billion.  Metcalfe’s bill would be a violation of federal law.

Gina Rodriguez of the HHS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services graciously sent me links regarding the law and its consequences.  I met her recently at a White House Hispanic Action Summit and asked her if this would happen.  In an email yesterday she wrote:  “Freedom of choice to all willing & qualified Medicaid providers is a fundamental principle of the program.”

When Texas enacted Mr. Metcalfe’s extreme legislation it received this letter from Health and Human Services.  When the state refused to budge it lost all federal funds for women’s health programs.

Are we going to stand for such an extreme agenda based on a lie?  Are we going to stand aside while a non-elected group like ALEC uses Metcalfe to push its radical agenda and destroy women’s access to needed health care?  Any legislator in Harrisburg who co-sponsors this bill, votes for it in committee or on the floor should be aware of its consequences.  Ignorance is no exception for being responsible to the women of Pennsylvania.

Disclosure:  I am a member of the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood Association of Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Political Action Committee.

News & Notes May 17, 2012

Two large wind farm projects for the state have been canceled because federal tax credits are going by the wayside.  If we’re subsidizing fossil fuels why can’t we subsidize clean, renewable energy?  The smart policy is to support clean energy and end tax credits for dirty ones.

Speaking of smart, does the Tea Party have an IQ test for membership?  Have you spoken with any of these morons?  I bet if you score more than 90 you’re rejected.  Their signs are the most hilarious examples of illiteracy around.

I was in Shanksville in September 2010 covering the first public memorial to Flight 93.  It’s a sobering experience to see where the heroes aboard that flight cratered into the mountain.  A fundraiser in DC just raised $2 million for the memorial.

James O’Keefe has had yet another video debunked.  This time he sought to prove voter fraud and, oops, missed the mark because he didn’t check his facts.  Think Progress has the story.

Keystone Progress is putting the heat on Pennsylvania legislators who are members of ALEC.  So far 14 have resigned from the lobbying organization whose mission it is to take away your rights.  Go and sign their petition.  Surprisingly two Democrats remain on their list.

The arc of justice bends towards progress:

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest found that a section of the NDAA which gives the government powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists could be used against journalists, scholars and activists to curtail their first amendment rights.

The NDAA is clearly unconstitutional and President Obama failed when he decided not to veto the bill.

VP Biden went after Romney’s days as a vulture capitalist in an appearance in Youngstown, Ohio yesterday:

Biden casts the race as one between an Obama vision that promotes fairness and a Romney ideology that helps the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. It’s a strategy that combines an attack on Romney with a sunny appraisal of the country’s future under Obama.

“Then there’s Romney economics, which says as long as the government helps the guys at the very top do well, workers and small businesses and communities can be left to fend for themselves,” Biden says, according to excerpts of his speech released by the campaign.

As the country nears the debt limit ceiling Tea baggers are again threatening to hold the nation hostage to their radical agenda.  Republicans spent all of this money and now refuse to pay the bill.  I keep hearing these people claim the government needs to live within its means just as the average family must.  First of all the average family doesn’t.  Because real wages have been stagnant ever since this Reagan Revolution began, they live on credit.  Still, they have to pay the bills when they come due.  The country must also.  Since 1981 Republican presidents have spent like drunken sailors with the approval of Congress.  Now they have to pay the bill even if it means increasing taxes on the 1%.

President Obama has nominated two Judges for the federal bench:

Matthew W. Brann:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania

Matthew W. Brann has been a partner at the law firm of Brann, Williams, Caldwell & Sheetz since 1995, where he concentrates his practice in the area of tort, contract, commercial, and real property litigation.  Prior to joining the firm as an associate in 1991, Brann served as a law clerk with the Court of Common Pleas in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  Brann received his J.D. in 1990 from the Dickinson School of Law and his B.A. in 1987 from the University of Notre Dame.

Judge Malachy Edward Mannion:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania

Judge Malachy Edward Mannion has been a United States Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania since 2001.  Apart from a four-year stint as a partner at the law firm of Hourigan, Kluger, Spohrer & Quinn PC in the mid-90s, Judge Mannion spent the fifteen years prior to his appointment to the bench serving as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.  While a federal prosecutor, he served as Chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force from 1989 to 1993.  From 1980 to 1986, Judge Mannion was an Assistant District Attorney in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.  He began his legal career as an associate at the law firm of Bartels, Pykett & Aronwald.  Judge Mannion received his J.D. in 1979 from Pace University School of Law and his B.S. in 1976 from the University of Scranton.

I reported recently that prisoner John Carter was killed by prison guards at Rockview State Prison.  Now criminal complaints have been filed against the guards involved in the murder:

According to multiple, detailed witness accounts reported to the Human Rights Coalition and family of Carter, staff in riot gear filled his solitary confinement cell with an extraordinary quantity of OC chemical munitions, otherwise known as pepper-spray. Following the attack with pepper-spray, his cell door was opened and guards rushed him, assaulting Carter, who was reportedly unconscious, with electro-shock weapons and beating him.

Why is this not being investigated by the Attorney General?

In that vein a grand jury in Pittsburgh has until the end of the month to decide whether or not to indict Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.  The testimony in her sister Sen. Jane Orie’s criminal trial has revealed extensive corruption in the use of state resources for Melvin’s two state Supreme Court races.  She continues to sit on the Court under a cloud of suspicion.

Why didn’t AG Tom Corbett investigate the obvious corruption in the Senate during his extensive probes of the legislature?   It appears they botched the Sandusky case too.  There doesn’t seem to be anywhere enough evidence to convict the former coach.  When it turns out the date of the most heinous account was off by more than a year I think there was shoddy work done by the OAG.

Congressional Republicans refused to vote for the expanded Violence Against Women Act, a signature piece of legislation pushed by Joe Biden when he was in the Senate.  Now they’ve voted for a version which actually weakens current protections.  Jim Gerlach and Mike Fitzpatrick were among state Members of Congress to weaken protections for women against violence.  Why don’t all women deserve to be protected from domestic violence?  What do these men have against women?

70’s disco queen Donna Summer had her last dance today when she died from cancer:

PA Taxpayers Underwrote ALEC

Keystone Progress secured financial records from the State House and Senate and has determined that $50,000 of taxpayer money was paid directly tot he lobbying group ALEC.  The American Legislative Exchnage Council (ALEC) has also been called the “A Legislator For Every Corporation” and writes laws passed in state legislatures around the country based on a radical right wing agenda.  The “Stand Your Ground” or “Castle Doctrine” gun laws which promote murder are one example.

The Open Records request for communications was denied, something was seems obviously illegal.  Citizens have a right to know what correspondence has transpired between Pennsylvania legislative members of ALEC and some of the extreme legislation being introduced in Harrisburg.  The financial documents are troubling enough:

The Pennsylvania House spent $234,775.04 on ALEC since 2000.

The Pennsylvania Senate spent $76,042.35 since 2004.

Why are you funding trips to ALEC events?  If members such as John Pippy, Ron Marsico, Joe Petrarca, John Taylor and Steve Barrar want to be this extravagant let them spend their own money on ALEC.  This is a disgrace and should be investigated by the Attorney General.  This is no less outrageous than BonusGate.

The $50,000 payment to ALEC, a lobbying organization, should be illegal.  This cries out for extensive lobbying reform.  Any trips to conventions like ALEC should be publicly disclosed by all lawmakers.  Voters have a right to know who is the pocket of whom before they vote.

Could ALEC be behind PA HB2191 (Payday Loansharking Bill)

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC has been making more and more news of late. ALEC which prides themselves as a:

“Nonpartisan individual membership organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions.” (http://www.alec.org/)

has been a mechanism of a corporate takeover of our state legislatures through the use of model bills that are introduced and voted on by our elected officials and corporate funders of the group. I have written two articles already about ALEC’s involvement in bills introduced to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and when I was asked to look into HB2191 and an ALEC link I jumped at the opportunity. The crazy thing is while I was planning on doing an article on this bill I never thought of an ALEC angle.

While Rep. Chris Ross (R-158) is not on the list of ALEC politicians exposed by SourceWatch.org, seven of his co-sponsor are reported as ALEC members. These seven representatives to the Pennsylvania House are:

Rep. John Evans (R-5), Rep. Thomas Killion (R-168), Rep. Nick Kotik (D-45), Rep. Ron Marsico (R-105), Rep. Ron Miller (R-93), Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-65), Rep. Stan Saylor (R-94 and the Majority Whip)

These seven ALEC politicians, including Rep. Kathy Rapp the sponsor of the wonderful ALEC model HB1077 (PA Ultrasound Bill) and Chris Ross’ fellow Chester County Republican Thomas Killion who according to sourcewatch is a member of ALEC’s Commerce, insurance, and Economic Development Task Force (which contains the financial services subcommittee), along with Nick Kotik make up two of the three Pennsylvania Representatives on the committee.

One of the main corporate peddlers for this bill that if it passes according to the Center for Responsible Lending states:

“payday loans will be granted an exclusive carve-out from the state’s historic usury laws, thus allowing 400% annual interest rates on payday loans” (www.responsiblelending.org)

is Cash America, a Texas-based company whose core purpose and values according to their corporate site include the claim that they act with a servant’s heart was exposed by the Columbus Dispatch (http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/02/04/policy-group-pays-for-legislators-trips.html) as part of a secret ALEC scholarship fund in Ohio. This fund went to pay for twenty Ohio Republican legislators to go to the 2011 ALEC conference in New Orleans. According to Sourcewatch, Cash America donated to ALEC on the “Vice-Chairman” level which included a 25,000 dollar donation in 2010. It should also be noted, that in a press release by Rep. Cherelle Parker (D-200) reminds us that:

“one of the companies pushing for enactment of House Bill 2191 – Cash America – is the same company the state Supreme Court prohibited from making illegal Internet payday loans to Pennsylvanians. In its decision, the court explained that Cash America’s business model is to charge astronomical interest rates” (http://www.pahouse.com/PR/200043012.asp)

Many faith-based organizations have also come together to oppose this bill that would allow companies like CashAmerica to not only exceed the 24% interest rate cap in place, but charge as high as 680% (according to the Center for Responsible Lending). The Pennsylvania Council of Churches, United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania, Friends of the Poor, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, and St Martin Center have united with various organizations to stand up to this legislation that would as Martin Luther claimed in regards to exploitation and usury:

“oppress the poor and deprive them of their daily bread” (http://lutheranadvocacypa.org)

The mammoth rates that payday loan companies like CashAmerica and other’s that Rep. Ross’ bill exposes Pennsylvanians to exceeds even Investopedias definition of a Loan Shark, which only goes as high as 100% as the interest a loan shark might consider.

This bill, like most that can be linked to ALEC are a cancer on our state legislatures and must be eradicated at all costs. We should be looking for ways to help Americans out of debt, not overburden them with loans that exhibit interest rates that most mob families wouldn’t charge. The “servants heart” that companies like CashAmerica and the legislators they have ensnared is quite distinguishable. We must stand up to ALEC once again, the fight will not be easy but as Frederick Douglas said:

“Without a struggle, there can be no progress”

PennDOT Forcing Voters to Pay For ID’s

How is this not a poll tax?  Republicans promised us their VoterID bill wasn’t a poll tax because they’d stick taxpayers with the cost of fixing a problem which doesn’t exist.  Someone must have forgotten to tell PennDOT.  They’re forcing people to pay for the ID’s required for voting.  Polling places all across Pennsylvania will begin asking voters for ID tomorrow.

Not only are PennDOT employees violating the law they are doing it rudely.  People shouldn’t have to take an advocate with them to force state employees to comply with the law.  How many eligible voters have been turned away or forced to pay for their right to vote?

As Sponsors Leave ALEC Pennsylvania Legislators Remain

The right wing legislative think tank ALEC is under fire for spreading the NRA agenda in state after state.  The organization develops proposed laws for state legislatures and has members in most of them who then introduce and push these reactionary acts.  Have you wondered why so many Republican controlled states all began passing the same or similar laws after the 2010 election?  They were all developed by ALEC and introduced across the country where the GOP was in control.  These include anti-union, anti-women, anti-family, Voter ID, immigration, and the so called Stand Your Ground (here it is called the Castle Doctrine) law which resulted in the murder of Trayvon Martin.

ALEC has been under pressure because of its passage of that aw in Florida and sponsors are pulling their financial support as a result.  There’s nothing like massive consumer backlash and negative publicity to convince a corporation to end support for wing nuts like Rush Limbaugh and organizations such as ALEC.  Coca-Coal, Pepsi, Intuit, Kraft and others have now pulled their money from this group.  Don’t spend your money with any corporation which remains.  This is a classic example of how voting with your dollars every day can enact the change we can believe in.

Here in Pennsylvania none of our ALEC state legislators have moved away from their ALEC masters however.  The primary reactionaries are ALEC head Rep. John Evans of Erie, Mike Turzai and Daryl Metcalfe.  Turzai and Metcalfe are simply insane fascists who have considerable power in Harrisburg and are behind the radical agenda being passed.  They have help though in Reps Matt Baker, Steve Barrar, Sandra Major, Robert Godshall, Paul Clymer, Kate Harper, and Charlie McIlhenny along with Senators Stewart Greenleaf, Jeff Piccola and Bob Robbins.

Keystone Progress issued a report today listing all of them and their other supporters:

   Rep. William Adolph (R, Delaware)

   Rep. Karen Boback (R, Columbia, Luzerne, Wyoming)

   Rep. Scott Boyd           (R, Lancaster)

   Rep. Jim Cox (R, Berks)

   Rep. Gary Day (R, Berks, Lehigh)

   Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R, Cumberland)

   Rep. Matthew Gabler (R, Clearfield, Elk)

   Rep. Richard Geist (R, Blair)

   Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R, Lebanon)

   Rep. Glen Grell (R, Cumberland)

   Rep. Seth Grove           (R, York)

   Rep. Marcia Hahn (R, Northampton)

   Rep. Sue Helm (R, Dauphin)

   Rep. Scott Hutchinson (R, Butler, Venango)

   Rep. Thomas Killion (R, Chester, Delaware)

   Rep. Jerry Knowles (R, Berks, Schuylkill)

   Rep. Nick Kotik (D, Allegheny)

   Rep. Mark Mustio (R, Allegheny)

   Rep. Tina Pickett (R, Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna)

   Rep. Kathy Rapp (R, Forest, McKean Warren)

   Rep. Harry Readhsaw (D, Allegheny)

   Rep. Stan Saylor (R, York)

   Rep. Curtis Schroder (R, Chester, Delaware)

   Rep. William Todd Stephens (R, Montgomery)

   Rep. Jerry Stern            (R,Blair)

   Rep. John Taylor (R, Philadelphia)

   Rep. Marcy Toepel (R, Montgomery)

   Rep. Tarah Toohil (R, Luzerne)

   Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R, Bucks, Montgomery)

   Sen. Leanna Washington, (D, Montgomery, Philadelphia)

News & Notes April 9, 2012

Stock up on clean underwear.  The Supreme Court has ruled that police can strip search you for even minor, petty offenses.  While perverts are hurrying to sign up for police academies make absolutely sure you have a bell on your bicycle or you too could be subjected tot he humiliation of a body cavity search.

Memos from the bigoted National Organization For Marriage reveal a strategy to use racial divisions to exploit their aims:

The fallout in Armstrong County continues from Commissioner and Tom Smith contribution recipient David Battaglia.  It seems he tried to hide a large contribution from the GOP Senate candidate and coal company baron.  Now the County GOP Treasurer has resigned.

Why do conservatives bent on destroying Social Security keep calling it an “entitlement” program?  Its insurance that each of us pays for just like health care, life insurance or fire coverage on our homes.  If someone runs a stop sign (a common occurrence around here, everyone thinks they say “slow down”) and you have to get your car repaired are you “entitled” to that service?  Are you some sort of freeloader?

Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society.  If some citizens are hell bent on never paying taxes they should move to Somalia.

Damon Roberts, running to succeed Kenyatta Johnson in State House District 186 is having his office subjected to vandalism.  He is one of several Philadelphia candidates targeted by allies of school voucher proponent Sen. Anthony Williams.  The public education to privatization movement headed by the Senator is running people in several districts in Philly and they’re using cash raised from those who would profit.  This is old style corruption, quid pro quo and Williams is in the center of it.  Shame on you Senator.  No one actually actually believes he isn’t involved since he’s was already bought off.

Penn State isn’t the only university where football program people get special treatment from the law.  Read what happens when a Notre Dame player rapes.

Speaking of football scandals Jerry Sandusky asked the court for a dismissal of charges.  The motion was denied but I’m betting he won’t be convicted.  How can prosecutors avoid reasonable doubt when they can’t even say when the alleged incidents happened?  You cannot defend against such vague accusations when the kids can’t even say what season of the year these things happened.  The guy is going to walk and we have to ask why?  Is this really the best work our AG’s office can do?

Luzerne County has no election services director two weeks before the election.  Corruption in that county knows no bounds.

Meanwhile priests in Philadelphia are on trial for molesting boys.  Evidence showed thus far is quite damning to the Church.  State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D-Allentown Archdiocese) buried legislation which would have given victims of molestation more time to file charges and lawsuits.  This has affected the Sandusky case.

Speaking of the Attorney General office Patrick Murphy has an ad up:

Major firms are pulling financial support from ALEC in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting.  Companies which supported the right wing legislative planning organization are now targets.  This shows how important it is to vote with your dollars.  Every day you can make decisions based on the moral authority of the firms with which you do business.  Let them know why they aren’t getting your money any longer.  They’d rather have your business than support outfits like ALEC.

With conservatives bent on destroying the republic President Obama went on the offensive:

PA Senate passes Voter Suppression Act 26-23

Despite passioned appeals from the twenty member Democratic Senate Caucus, the Pennsylvania State Senate sent HB934 back to the house with the GOP stamp of approval 26-23 today in Harrisburg.

Senator Daylin Leach (D-17) tried to point the sheer lunacy of  Representative Metcalfe’s HB 934 trying to fix a non existent problem of voter impersonation. 

Senator Leach’s appeal that “300 people are more likely to struck by lightning before one act of voter impersonation is discovered” fell on deaf ears.

Senator Schwank (D-11) emotional account about a 95 year old constituent, whom she helped get to the polls in 2008 when the voter dialed 911 in order to find a ride to vote. This  proud Pennsylvanians voting record went all the back to the depression, and this bill would have disenfranchised her. 

Then Senator Hughes (D-7) tried to remind the Senate floor how this bill doesn’t protect the franchise, but suppresses it. Democratic Senate members tried to no avail to protect approximately 700,000 Pennsylvanians access to the franchise today. Only three Republicans would cross the aisle on this bill that Keesha Gaskin of Brennan Center of Justice compared to an illegal poll tax:

To avoid having these laws become illegal poll taxes, states must make IDs available for free.(http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/reject_voter_id/)

HB934 does not offer free State ID’s to Pennsylvanians in need. However, it does offer them the opportunity to vote if one can afford the fees that come along with obtaining an ID. 

Senator Daylin Leach tweeted a response to this authors comment noting the Senators passionate appeal to his fellow Senators to vote nay. 

@daylinleach: @ProgressMoShuff  Sadly, this bunch isn’t very persuadable.

Unfortunately, as I would reply to Senator Leach:

@ProgressMoShuff: @daylinleach unfortunately they were all too persuadable last summer at their ALEC meeting in NO. #votersuppression they can find $ for.

One can only hope Pennsylvania House Democrats can convince enough house republicans to vote against this bill when it returns to the house. Sadly, I fear the likelihood of that is slim to none.

Could ALEC be behind the Pennsylvania Ultrasound Bill?

Earlier this week I wrote an article on Pennsylvania House Bill 1077, The Woman’s Right to Know Act. A bill, which would require medical providers to offer an ultrasound prior to an abortion. HB1077 was forwarded to the floor from the PA House Committee on Health with a 15-7 vote on Feb 6, and  appears on the legislative calender for March 12th. Since, the Majority Leader is a co-sponsor of the bill, it would be safe to assume it has a decent chance of being heard. HB1077, has received a lot of backlash, and in the wake of the Virginia bill it has left this writer wondering, where these bills come from.

The question I pondered is who could be behind this legislation requiring a medically unnecessary procedure and purely ideological based bill. Then I remembered the Progressive Media Workshop I attended in Madison, Wisconsin last October and Wisconsin State Assemblyman Mark Pocan who told us about a shadowy group bringing conservative legislators and corporations together. I know it sounds like a mystical conspiracy of JFK like proportions. However, in the current days of Super-PACS and Citizens United it is nearly impossible to know who is funding what and where some of these bills are coming from. ALEC may be the answer.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy,

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ALEC_Politicians)

Furthermore, the American Legislative Exchange, or ALEC as it is more commonly known claims it,

has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ((http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ALEC_Politicians))

with ALEC being one of the forefronts of the conservative ideological infrastructure it lead me to ask the question, is HB1077 one of those model bills.

Of course, I’m not some big time New York Times investigative reporter, with an entire news department, credentials and sources galore. However, I decided to look into this dilemma as a concerned citizen. I cross referenced the proposed bills co-sponsors with the members of ALEC, reported by the Center for Media and Democracy. In a matter of minutes, I found Rep. Rapp (R-65) and 23 other PA Reps are listed as having ties to ALEC, and everyone of her 23 fellow Rep/ALEC members cosponsored the bill; including the Democrats cosponsoring the bill.

Then I took a look at Virginia Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22), sponsor of Virginia controversial ultrasound bill, who I found is a proud member of ALEC. Her webpage she proclaims it under her memberships and touts her Telecommunication Task Force assignment, an assignment she shares with among many other PA ALEC State Chairman and bill cosponsor Representative John Evans (R-5).

I for one would like to see this whole arrangement investigated more, I don’t claim to have the know how, or time to dig into the case completely. Whether it be through legislation that requires more transparency, or a reporter in the heralded spirit of those muckrakers of the past. Pennsylvanian’s deserve to know who is behind the legislation we are seeing. If these bills are one of the 1000’s ALEC claims  to be pawning off on willing ideologues. The only special interests that our local, state and federal elected officials should represent is the constituents, not some faction of conservative extremism.