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BREAKING NEWS - General Motors and Walgreen's bail during ALEC's 2012 Annual Conference! as reported by Color of Change.

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As ALEC's Annual Conference began in Salt Lake City earlier this week, legislators, lobbyists and corporate reps from all over the country descended upon Utah.

They weren't alone...protesters, Occupy groups, Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, People for the American Way, Alliance for a Better Utah and Utah residents also flocked to SLC to provide a grassroots "Welcome" for all those ALEC attendees.

Last night protesters put together a presentation to the public on ALEC at a conference of their own after Occupy and others held an "empty plate" parade in protest of the Director's feast being put on by ALEC across the street at the plush Grand America hotel.  Watch that video here.  Note the reporter tried to gain access to interview ALEC members and was told by hotel staff ALEC didn't want them there...

Below the fold I've compiled links to today's stories (with brief excerpts) on ALEC from Salt Lake City and beyond. Click on the article titles below for links to the articles or videos.  Also posted at our Voters Legislative Transparency Project site.

Protestors Greet ALEC as 39th Annual Meeting Gets Underway in Utah Today

"A coalition of local and national groups will be hosting an alternative "ALEC Exposed" conference to educate the public about some of the more extreme aspects of the ALEC agenda. Supporting groups include CMD, Common Cause, People for the American Way, Progress Now, AFL-CIO, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, The Voters Legislative Transparency Project (VLTP) the Utah League of Women Voters and the Alliance for a Better Utah and others. Another coalition of groups will be hosting an ALEC "Welcoming" Committee. These groups include Occupy Salt Lake City, Peaceful Uprising, Move to Amend Salt Lake, the Local International Workers of the World (IWW), Revolutionary Students Union and the Salt Lake Dream Team, and others.
ALEC Member Glenn Grothman: Voter ID Needed because "People Who Cheat" Vote Democratic
Think Progress: If [the voter ID law] were upheld and in place in time for the November election, do you think -- polls have shown a pretty razor-thin margin -- do you think it might ultimately help Romney's campaign here in the state?

GROTHMAN: Yes. Right. I think we believe that insofar as there are inappropriate things going on, people who vote inappropriately are more likely to vote Democrat.

Think Progress: So if these protections are in place of voter ID, that might ultimately help him in a close race.

GROTHMAN: Right. I think if people cheat, we believe the people who cheat are more likely to vote against us.

ALEC conservatives reject charges of corporate cronyism
"I know you’re being attacked by a lot of these leftist groups in your states. I know you are,” Ron Scheberle, ALEC’s executive director told lawmakers during lunch Wednesday before turning to the group’s corporate sponsors. “Thank you. Thank you for standing with us. I know you’ve been attacked a lot — extortion threats and letters. But those who are here today are standing strong.”
Groups disagree over power ALEC holds with state lawmakers (Video)
“Alec is a conglomeration of the world’s richest multinational corporations,” Jesse Fruhwirth said. “They’re a lobbying organization that relies on a pay to play, where if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can buy legislation.”
Report Says ALEC Has Growing Influence In Florida Education Policy

 

”This corporate funded 501(c)(3) organization…has unprecedented access to lawmakers and to the composition of the bills they pass into law. Out of Florida’s 160 state legislators, 60 have had ties with ALEC since 2010 through dues records or records of its task forces where corporate lobbyists vote as equals with legislators on “model” bills behind closed doors.”
Anti-ALEC Protest And Rally For Public Education Thursday
“The American Legislative Exchange Council has descended upon Salt Lake City for its annual meeting, and the nonprofit that secretly feeds lawmakers biz-friendly bills is being harried by local activists at every stop. Thursday activists are picketing ALEC for efforts to dismantle public education.”
Color Of Change Applauds Walgreens’ and General Motors’ Decisions to End their Membership in ALEC
“30 Companies Have Left the American Legislative Exchange Council, Announcement Comes During Group’s Annual Meeting in Utah; Civil Rights Organization Now Calls on Online Retailer eBay to Drop ALEC.”
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 meeting sparks support from governor, protests
”(Governor) Herbert noted Utah has, in recent years, lowered its tax rates and modified or eliminated nearly 400 regulations on business to create what he called a fertile field for companies. Regulations, he said, “are like weeds” and need to be eradicated.“
Pre-fab bills
“Paying membership dues (often out of campaign contributions) in order to access “model” legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council is the legislative equivalent of purchasing term papers online (“ALEC bringing its clout, agenda and convention to Utah,” Tribune, July 15).”Any lawmaker who cannot draft his or her own legislation based on the needs of constituents has no business serving in the Utah Legislature.
“I elect local people to serve in our Legislature, and I expect them to focus on listening to Utah citizens to creatively solve local issues.

“Certainly, this is harder than simply downloading “model” legislation, but if you aren’t willing to do the work, don’t run for office.

“Buying pre-fab legislation from a secretive organization two time zones away is beneath the dignity of the office of an elected representative. This remains true, whether the organization is conservative or liberal.

Ingrid Griffee - Salt Lake City

Politics » Common Cause criticizes American Legislative Exchange Council and its impact on public policy.
“ALEC represents a pay-to-play system at its worst, a system where the most powerful corporations buy their way in,” Common Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, said.
ALEC under fire (Video)
“(Lisa) Graves points to the organization’s by-laws, made public through the IRS that say state chairmen “shall” propose model legislation in their states. State chairmen are sitting lawmakers, including Utah State Senators Curt Bramble and Wayne Neiderhauser and state representative Chris Herrod.”
Geese and Ganders
”ALEC’s defenders are asking questions about where the Alliance For A Better Utah gets its financial backing…”
“UPDATE: Josh Kanter, founder for the Alliance For Better Utah, said this evening that he is the primary financial backer for the group, which only has one other sponsor who gave more than $5,000 to the group. Kanter says it’s a no-brainer that he is a Democratic donor, but points out that the Alliance’s board includes Republicans.”
Lawmakers, advocates question ALEC’s role in crafting state legislation
”Utah state lawmaker Brian King says, ‘I don’t want to be passing legislation that’s basically a solution in search of a problem, that may be effective in South Carolina or New Hampshire but really doesn’t have any applicability to the state of Utah.’

Originally posted to Bob Sloan on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:42 PM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project and Earthship Koch.

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