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Just last week ProgressVA, along with some great progressive allies, participated in a forum on the corporate front group the American Legislative Exchange Council and their role in writing our laws. It was a great event with a fully packed room and we appreciate everyone who was able to attend and watch online. Additionally, the entire event is now available on YouTube.

Some quotes and highlights after the jump.

  • Tom Perriello, Former Congressman (VA-5), "When I went to Congress, I had a staff of about 16 or 17 people. Several of whom could work just on policy. If we were writing a piece of legislation, there are support systems within the staff to help - legislative writing committees, there's staff to do that. There's a budget office that can help run numbers on exactly how much this might cost. You can have impact statements done by nonpartisan experts, all to support the impact of this legislation. What Delegate Hope and others in state legislatures across the country have is none of that. In many cases no staff, in many cases almost no salaries therefore you're carrying a full time job. There's not an independent set of institutions to analyze these bills. So what it means to write legislation at the state level is that it's done in a very different way. And when you have an organization, a corporate organization, that is sitting there ready to hand these right-wing legislators a ready-to-go bill, a ready-to-go budget analysis (that's often totally made-up), talking points--ways to communicate this, you have created an enormous in-kind contribution where  essentially the corporations are writing the laws."

  • Doug Clopp, Deputy Program Director, Common Cause"I come from Maine. And I could never figure out, on the third floor of the Maine state legislature, how a freshman legislator, from rural Maine, who owned a variety store, could drop a 74-page bill, completely dovetailed to Maine statute, that could deregulate Maine's utility industry and hand it over to corporate for 50 cents on the dollar. I could never figure out, how again in a citizens' legislature, Patrick has talked about this, that has a really limited staff, that how we could see bills to eliminate collective bargaining, how we could see bills to severe consumer rights to the courts for corporate products that kill that are poison. So finally I went over to one of my conservative corporate lobbyists and I said, hey, where does this stuff come from? And he said, well Doug it comes from ALEC - its an ALEC bill."

Additionally, the event was moderated by Del. Patrick Hope, and other speakers included ProgressVA's Anna Scholl and:

  • Kim Anderson, Director, Center for Advocacy, National Education Association
  • Diallo K. Brooks, Director, Field Mobilization, People for the American Way
  • Naomi Walker, Director, State Government Affairs, AFL-CIO

In addition to great presentations from all the speakers, the night also included an information Question & Answer session which begins at 59 minutes in. From the event's description:

More than 50 bills drawn from ALEC sources have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly. ALEC is driving the recent surge in state voter ID laws, which erect new barriers to voting and disproportionately hinder minority and elderly voters. ALEC promoted as one of its models the infamous "Stand Your Ground" laws, which confer civil immunity on perpetrators who avoid arrest and prosecution under this law.  ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force is devoted to preventing injured people from holding wrongdoers accountable in court. On top of this, ALEC does not operate in a transparent manner.  Its model laws are adopted in closed meetings and require approval by a majority vote of its corporate members to be adopted.

The event is sponsored by: the Fairfax County Democratic Committee National Affairs Committee, AFL-CIO Virginia; NOVA Labor; ProgressVA; People for the American Way, National Education Association, Progressive Democrats of America--Virginia; NOVA Council of MoveOn; Primary Matters Coalition; NAACP Alexandria, Arlington and Prince William Branches; Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church City, Manassas, and Manassas Park Democratic Committees; and the 8th Congressional District Democratic Committee.

Originally posted to ProgressVA on Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 02:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project.

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Comment Preferences

  •   excellent ! were having a similar Forum (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in SLC on July 25th during ALEC's conference here. Mr. Clopp and Lisa Graves will be presenting along with others. We have many other activities planned during that week also. here is a link to a an artist made for us fabulous poster

    •  b X, good luck with your SLC effort. (0+ / 0-)

      To the diarist, this was a nicely run and well-organized event you ran that certainly helped to motivate your activist base and provide them resources that can be used to further weaken ALEC.  Let's keep our noses on this grindstone, and keep shining the light.

      Keep using original source documentation that cannot be disputed nor spun into something other than the truths that were stated many times in your video above.  ALEC is all about corporate profits and nothing about citizens or our rights as Americans.

      I see that a Utah Democratic legislator dropped out of ALEC today, perhaps ballerina X's and her group's efforts made the kitchen too hot and she had to get out of it.  Congratulations!

      We all should keep shining the light on ALEC, continue making it toxic both for its legislative and private sector members.  They love the market when they can profit from it at citizen's expense, but when ALEC's shady, anti-democratic practices are exposed to the light of day, their ideas lose in the marketplace of ideas.

      You Utah activists (and activists in all 50 states) need to research your state's open meeting laws and find out if an ALEC meeting where legislation is discussed, written, debated and VOTED on violates your state's Open Meetings Laws, and see if you can force ALEC to open the meetings where legislation is discussed and voted on, to be required, under those laws to be made public to both visitors and press of all types with no exclusions because ALEC doesn't like the politics of the media persons or their employers.

      Here's hoping for over a thousand peaceful protesters against ALEC in Salt Lake City.  Good luck.

      Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

      by Ohiodem1 on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 05:04:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for letting us know, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

      about this.  It is encouraging to know that people are fighting back.

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