In honor of the opening day of the 2016 Iowa legislative session, we invite you to partake of some background information that will help make sense of those seemingly crazy ideas of Governor Branstad and the Iowa GOP legislators, like dismantling public education. If you’ve ever made a perplexed comment on social media, or just asked yourself, why?, read this.
Earlier this spring, Republicans in the Iowa House passed two ALEC model bills. One would strip away consumer protections by lowering the statute of repose for construction defects and another unworkable idea deals with state budgeting. They are both bad ideas and I voted against them.
Following the ALEC playbook, House Republicans have even refused to bring up a bipartisan minimum wage bill that has already passed the Iowa Senate. Since the last time a minimum-wage increase was approved in 2007 with 79 votes, there’s no question it would pass the House with bipartisan support again this year if Republicans would bring it up. – Mark Smith is a State Representative and Democratic Leader in the Iowa House of Representatives. firstname.lastname@example.org
THE STATE POLICY NETWORK
What Is The State Policy Network?
The State Policy Network (SPN) is a web of so-called “think tanks” that push a right-wing agenda in every state across the country. Although many of SPN’s member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, an in-depth investigation by non-profit, non-partisan investigative reporting groups the Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Now reveals that the State Policy Network and its affiliates are major drivers of the right-wing, ALEC-backed agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders, all while reporting little or no lobbying activities.
What Is The State Policy Network’s Agenda?
The State Policy Network largely pushes a right-wing, corporate-backed agenda aimed at attacking the middle class. The State Policy Network and its affiliates push for privatizing public schools [italics BFIA’s], blocking expanded access to health care, lowering taxes for corporations and the very wealthy, undermining workers’ rights and unions, and a polluter’s agenda that attacks environmental protections. Some State Policy Network “think tanks” have even advocated for voter suppression laws that make it harder for Americans to vote and opposed common-sense gun safety bills.
How Is the State Policy Network Related to ALEC?
The State policy Network and many of its affiliates are members of the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where corporate lobbyists and special interest group representatives vote as equals with state lawmakers behind closed doors on “model” legislation that in many cases ends up benefiting the corporations’ bottom line. The State Policy Network has played a major role in supporting ALEC, serving as a “chairman” level sponsor of the 2013 and 2011 ALEC Annual Conferences and acting as a voting member of several task forces. State Policy Network affiliates push parts of ALEC’s agenda in their respective states, and ALEC is also an associate member of the State Policy Network. State Policy Network and its affiliates have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to ALEC.
How Does the State Policy Network Push Its Agenda?
While State Policy Network members call themselves “think tanks,” they rarely act as such. State Policy Network groups often engage in extensive lobbying activities, even though nonprofits are limited in the amount of lobbying activity they may participate in by the IRS. State Policy Network “think tanks” release “research” and policy reports, and there are numerous instances of State Policy Network think tanks being accused of skewing facts and using faulty research to reach their policy goals. Many State Policy Network think tanks also collaborate with the right-wing Franklin Center to launch agenda-driven “news” outlets, hawking right-wing talking points from behind a mask of journalism.
Terry Branstad is a founding member of ALEC. Blog for Iowa has mentioned this dozens of times. Curiously, the page where you used to be able to find the original members of ALEC on alec.org has been taken down.
Find out more about ALEC’s influence in Iowa here in a guest opinion by Mark Smith in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.