What Happened At ALEC’s Arizona Conference?
After The Corporations, Protesters and Legislators Have Gone Home, Little Is Known About The Latest Model Bills
The corporations above are part of the private enterprise board of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
By Staff Report
Modern Times Magazine
Dec. 9, 2011 — Nearly a week after the American Legislative Exchange Council ended its Nations & States Conference at the West Kierland Resort in Scottsdale last week, little is known about the model bills that will gain support of the highly influential corporate sponsored legislative group.
Of all of the discussions and activities that took place over the three days of the conference, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, released one press release concerning what transpired at the conference. Modern Times Magazine was denied access to the conference and a request for information of the model bills was not recognized by ALEC.
See our in-depth profile on ALEC
Media organizations that were granted credentials, however, were not allowed access to task force meetings — where details and discussion on model bills between legislators and corporate representatives take place. All model bills approved by the task forces must then be approved by the group’s board of directors.
The press release issued by ALEC identified the new leadership for 2012. Indiana Rep. Dave Frizzell, an ALEC member for more than 10 years and current first vice chairman, was named ALEC's 2012 national chairman.
"This is a tremendous honor," said Rep. Frizzell. "I will work diligently to support ALEC's commitment to developing free-market solutions to jump-starting the economy, restoring fiscal order and improving government services. I hope to continue the outstanding work of ALEC's current national chairman, Rep. Noble Ellington. 2011 was one of ALEC's most productive years in recent memory, and I can't thank him enough for his leadership."
Another group, though, released a press release about an approved model bill — something rarely done because ALEC and its members like to keep under the radar those bills which are from a task force. Most of what is known about the current model bills in the ALEC library came from files leaked to Common Cause.
But on Nov. 30, The Health Care Compact Alliance announced ALEC adopted the Health Care Compact as model legislation. The Health Care Compact is an initiative of the Health Care Compact Alliance, an organization dedicated to providing Americans more influence over decisions that govern their health care. The Health Care Compact is an agreement between participating states that restores authority and responsibility for health care regulation to member states. The Health Care Compact does not make suggestions on what policies individual states should pursue, but advocates that health care policy should be decided at the state level.
"States, not the federal government, are in the best position to implement market-driven and patient-centered health care reform," said Christie Herrera, director of the Health and Human Services Task Force of ALEC in the press release. "The Health Care Compact Act adds to ALEC's powerful list of tools legislators can use to push back against the unprecedented federal health care law."
The Health Care Compact has been introduced in 13 states since February 2011 and has already been adopted in Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Missouri. In addition, citizen groups and state legislators in more than 20 states are actively considering the Health Care Compact.Under the Health Care Compact, each state receives annual funding from the federal government for health care. The funding is mandatory spending for the federal government and is not subject to annual appropriations. Funding for each state is calculated from a baseline of 2010 health care spending, adjusted for changes in population and inflation. For the Health Care Compact to become law, it must be passed by both houses of a general assembly or legislature, signed by the governor and approved by Congress.
Another potential action undertaken by ALEC in Scottsdale was first reported by edweek.org, who claimed to have received information from several who attended the meeting. According to edweek.org, the organization's education task force approved model legislation opposing common core standards in K-12 education. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce.
Forty-five of the 50 states in the union have signed on to the common core, with Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin being the exceptions.
Interestingly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave $376,635 to ALEC in November. Controlled by the founder Microsoft and his wife, the foundation is a known supporter of Common Core standards.