Insidious ALEC Pokes Its Fingers Into Iowa

As the Iowa legislature gets back into session, the citizens of Iowa need to be on high alert for ALEC inspired bills becoming laws that will eventually haunt Iowans and will erode their quality of life. One such bill that appears to be ALEC inspired is wending its way through the legislature again after being beaten back last year.

The sponsor of this bill, Tom Sands represents district 87 in the Iowa House. Mr. Sands is on ALEC’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force. Based on what this bill does, it is certainly geared more for business and not the good of his district. This bill has passed the House. Ostensibly the bill cuts commercial property taxes. Within the bill are poison pills that will choke city and town revenues that will greatly affect quality of life in Iowa cities. The Iowa League of Cities fought hard against this bill last year. But republicans are pushing it hard.

In my little town we may lose our pool, our library, and see huge cutbacks in cemetery maintenance, police and fire.

In case you have forgotten what ALEC is here is a short explanation:
“Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.

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. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) They fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these 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 might be right. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.”

ALEC is not elected, yet has had more voice in what is happening in our states and country than any voter. By creating model legislation and using friendly legislators like Tom Sands, your voice gets squashed as the uber-rich control state governments. As noted in this column before, every member of the House republicans is a member of ALEC. They pretty much vote in a bloc.

In Minnesota last week, Governor Mark Dayton vetoed bills that were written from the ALEC templates.
Bills pulled from right-wing group ALEC’s “boot camp manual” says Governor Dayton.

The first-term DFL Governor held up a pamphlet and said “Three of the four bills come right from this manual “tort reform bootcamp” , published by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC. This is the same group who reportedly provided legislators last week with all expense paid trips to posh Florida hotel for what they call an education policy conference.

“It is an extremely conservative group funded largely by large corporations, big business associations, insurance companies and very wealthy individuals.

“I’ve found that Minnesotans do not want their laws written by the lobbyists of big corporations.

“Since these Republican bills so closely follow ALEC’s instructions on tort reform and since ALEC’s opinion on these subjects are evidently more important to Republican legislators than mine , their fellow DFL legislators or the Minnesota Supreme Court’s, perhaps they would share with us all of the other ALEC boot camp manuals so we can know in advance what to expect from them for the rest of the session.

“If Republicans want to continue to prove to Minnesotans that they are too extreme to lead they should continue to throw ALEC’s ideology at us.

“If they want to begin to govern responsibly and work collaboratively, pass real jobs legislation, and my three measures have not even been taken up, real jobs legislation that will put Minnesotans back to work, then I’m ready to work with them.

“And I’m waiting.”

But don’t expect Branstad to do the same. He was a founding member of ALEC and will follow ALEC’s lead.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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