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Report claims Florida lawmakers do bidding of corporate-funded ALEC

Some of the most controversial bills introduced recently in the Florida Legislature were thought up by out-of-state corporate interests with financial motives, according to a report released Thursday by a two national watchdog groups and Progress Florida. The report says the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is a shadowy force exerting an uncanny amount of power over Florida’s lawmaking process.

ALEC advances so-called “model bills” on items like public education, immigration, labor issues, healthcare, gun rights and voter rights. Replicas of those business-friendly bills often end up in legislation sponsored by Florida lawmakers who are ALEC members, the report found.

Dozens of Florida lawmakers have ties to the group, which has been thrust into the spotlight this year as the main force behind the rapid spread of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law across the country.

“We realized that this was a massive corporate agenda that often puts the corporate agenda in front of public interest and in some cases, public safety,” said Doug Clopp, of Common Cause, a liberal group. “What ALEC represents is the poster child for a non-transparent [political process] that puts corporate profits ahead of the public interest.”

Common Cause, along with the Center for Media and Democracy, and Progress Florida, authored the 50-page report.

The report claims that ALEC and its corporate partners woo Republican lawmakers with free trips to its resort-like annual meetings, then give them model legislation to pitch in their statehouses. In many cases, the legislation provides benefits for private companies, including prison operators, gun sellers, charter school operators and retailers.

The group is holding its annual meeting this week in Salt Lake City.

The report claims the following bills surfaced in Florida in recent years with language identical to ALEC model bills:

2011:

  • SB 1896 - Arizona-style immigration law.  Failed.
  • HB 691 – Law requiring employers to use E-Verify to screen for illegal immigrants. Failed.
  • SJR 2 – Constitutional amendment allowing voters to opt out of federal healthcare mandate. Passed, will be on November ballot.
  • HB 7019 – Law changing teacher evaluation requirements, linking evaluations to student achievement. Failed.
  • SB 1620 – Bill expanding the use of virtual online charter schools. Companion bill passed.

2012:

  • HB 691 – “Parent Trigger” act that would have allowed parents to replace a failing public school with a charter school. Failed.
  • SB 2038 – Bill to privatize 27 prisons and correctional facilities in Florida. Failed in 21-19 Senate vote.

ALEC is also credited with pushing voter identification laws similar to the one Florida passed last year, making it more difficult for some people to access the polls.

Florida lawmakers don’t always vote in line with ALEC initiatives. Several of the ALEC bills mentioned in the report have failed, with ALEC members leading the charge against them.

The battle over a bill to privatize several prisons this year is an example.

That bill, SB 2038, failed in a 21-19 vote in the Senate. Several alleged ALEC members voted against the measure, which would have benefitted private prison operators. Sens. Larcenia Bullard, Mike Fasano, Dennis Jones and Ronda Storms, all listed in the report as recent ALEC members, spoke out against the privatization push.

Left-leaning groups have tried to put pressure on ALEC and its members, particularly since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in February. That shooting put the Stand Your Ground law—and ALEC’s role in spreading it—into a harsh national spotlight.

The groups behind the report have called on ALEC-associated lawmakers to cut ties with the organization, and for corporations that fund ALEC to end their association. Several corporations, including Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, have decided to break ties with ALEC in recent months.

Some are also pushing for ALEC to lose its status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, alleging that its lobbying activities disqualify it from that distinction.

ALEC has denied the allegations, but, under pressure after the Trayvon Martin death, the group shut down its Public Safety and Elections task force in April. That committee was responsible for helping spread the Stand Your Ground law and voter identification laws.

For a copy of the report, click here

@ToluseO

Comments

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Larry Thorson

This seems perfectly obvious. Florida has been run by a vast right-wing conspiracy since the Bushes arrived.

Lindad

ALEC needs to be out of Florida

Dolores

The both parties need to be far closer in numbers to insure checks and balances. The R leadership is selling us all out.

mytop

What a pitiful news story. Conservative group has links to conservative legislators! It can't be. Oh and funny, nobody in the press seemed to notice that most people in Florida support what ALEC pushes - like Stand Your Ground. 65%! Try repealing that one, and see if the Dems can lose even more seats.

ALEC is a top notch organization that pushes conservative policies across the country. It is essentially a state based think tank.

Where is the expose on the NCSL?

whasup

I remember way back in the 1980s when ALEC first started seriously working as a true cross-state legislative policy exchange group.

It was created as a counter-weight to offer alternatives to the pro-government, pro-spending, pro-taxing, pro-socialism programming being shared by the “progressive” elements in control of the National Conference of State Legislators. NCSL was the petri dish from which many of the “innovative”, ineffective, oppressive, costly, and expansive state government programs—we have trouble funding now—spread like viruses infecting many states with the progressives’ little darling pet pogroms, aided and abetted by their left-leaning special interest groups.

A lefty group filed a complaint with the IRS challenging ALEC’s tax-exempt status. That same group (Common Cause) is itself a tax-exempt organization that engages almost entirely in lobbying for legislative policy changes. Perhaps it’s time for someone to challenge the IRS tax-exempt status of Common Cause and a host of other lefty special interest groups that masquerade as educational organizations.

Gty

Good reporting, wasup. Its good to see real reporting on these things, not just liberal echos.

RandW

I am so glad that the media is exposing this rotten ALEC group. Its bad for Florida and our state. ALEC pushes evil laws that create more costs for government, with the intent to use the lawmakers as a tool to get the money to big corporations like private prisons. Its a rigged game, and taxpayers always get the shank.

Irritated Tax Payer

Is Nunez about conservative ideals or is she about power. This was taken from another blog site:

>>

So she's eating expensive dinners in Louisiana and paying for it with campaign checks. Rubbing elbows with high rollers, but also favoring aspects of National Heath Care that will benefit her employer. Where's the part where she is thinking about her constituents? She's left, she's right, she's where ever the big money is. I don't respect that and I hope the voters take her to task over it.

Irritated Tax Payer

Taken from another blog:

"Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, is covering conference expenses w/ campaign money & will hold a campaign fundraiser today in New Orleans.

"Obviously there're going to be lobbyists there & I figure it would be an easy place, if they have checks, to come by," Nunez said.

Phil

All these comments are right on the money, but really we get the government WE vote for. The fact that there are corporate prostitutes all over the legislature is a function of OUR failure as much as theirs. These fools get elected time after time. I realize with gerrymandering of districts to protect incumbents that that is the problem. But as long as there is a majority of this state who would vote for a potted plant as long a it had (R) against its name, WE are as much of the problem as THEY are.

Brittanicus


THE IMMIGRATION BETRAYAL OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

With the inception of the DREAM ACT that offers an estimated 1.5 million young illegal aliens a back door amnesty, the outcome for America is even more deficits to cover the cost? Unfortunately neither the Obama Czars nor Mitt Romney seems to distinguish that there are over 8 million citizens and legal residents are scrambling to find a job, with literary millions more who have given up trying. With the backing of radical majority groups like La Raza, ACLU or the Communist Marxist who have infiltrated America politics, they are perplexed and thought this easy amnesty would be uneventful. They never expected the gargantuan cause of the TEA PARTY would stand in their way and currently broadcast to America that Obama’s legions are up against huge bloc of independent voters and millions of law abiding people who see Obama’s policies as a stab in the back. It’s an offence to this nation’s integrity that also these entities being financially catered to by the Obama Socialists and U.S. tax dollars. That the public are being scammed for by grants from the U.S. government to pay for our countries own demise at the hands the Presidents Imperial court.

But then the Dream Act conspiracy doesn’t mean the PARENTS ARE FREE OF DEPORTATION. Once the kids are supposedly vetted by the State Department, they will be allowed to stay. I have already read that just the individual word, in saying they had been to high school is good enough for an immigration waiver. However if the processing is anything as the operation in the 1986 Immigration Control & Reform Act (ICRA), then the amnesty will be rife with fraudulent documentation. My guess with the assistance of the different entities, hundreds of thousands of so called illegal alien children will gain entrance through poor procedures. Then again illegal alien parents will be exposed, because of physical addresses will be shown on the record and open to being brought into custody at a later date by ICE. The TEA PARTY holds with contempt of any laws that are not abiding by the U.S. Constitution, and it could lead with rescinding any policies that were passed by the Barack Obama.

Chris Crane, that represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials , stating at a news conference:
“Prosecutorial discretion for dreamers is solely based on the individual’s claims. Our orders are if an alien says they went to high school, and then let them go.… Officers have been told that there is no burden for the alien to prove anything.… At this point we don’t even know why [the Department of Homeland Security] has criteria at all, as there is no requirement or burden to prove anything on the part of the alien.

We believe that significant numbers of people who are not dreamers are taking advantage of this practice to avoid arrest”.

We can cure this epidemic of the illegal immigration invasion, by voting for a TEA PARTY LEADERS. There are plenty of these moderate conservatives and true believers in our U.S. Constitution. Isn’t it time we enacted the ‘Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885) and the Birthright citizenship Act (H.R.140)? Isn’t it time that the state of Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina or anybody else come to that? Every state should get to keep its money, instead of forced by insane unfunded mandates to pay for illegal aliens and their children? All those who genuflect to the 20 million plus illegal aliens will be under an assault themselves, when the TEA PARTY becomes an overall majority in the Republican Party.

Every citizens and permanent resident is welcomed into the TEA PARTY, except of course the criminal aliens who have scorned our laws and been accepted by both parties that entertain political incompetence. The Liberal-Democrats will desperately do anything to draw away full focus from the terrible drowning economy policies of the Obama Administrations, such as going after Arizona or any other state that are trying to defend their legal population from the illegal alien welfare parasites. That also goes for every American as well, who for decades who have lain back on their couches, watched television all day and forced taxpayers to pay for their lazy lives. Of course there are exceptions of sick people who cannot help themselves.

For the reader who is really interested with the most explosive of issues that relates to President Obama, then go to TEA PARTY DOT ORG. Keep an open mind about certain irregularities and be prepared for some sobering information, that both the Liberal mainstream press is decidedly quiet or concealed altogether. I personally make no accusation, but those of us who have not been brain washed should investigate, then decide who-where your citizen vote should go? Another issue that should concern us all, it is inevitable that in coming elections—without any kind of oversight—we should be concerned that there is “Voter Fraud” and in the Liberal states as California there will be massive fraud. Both absentee ballots and even at the ballot box, non-citizens are voting and as yet little has been done, to alleviate non citizens from voting. Trust has evaporated from elections, when it so easy to commit fraud. Citizen voters should phone Congress at the Washington central Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Insist YOUR CONGRESSMAN/WOMAN TO fulfill their obligation to the oath of office and stop pandering to the businesses that use cheap labor, or the Democrats who are overlooking illegal aliens who are voting.

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