Skip to main content

Most people in North Carolina who aren't political junkies probably haven't heard of the American Legislative Exchange Council--until today.  A front-page article in today's (Raleigh) News & Observer extensively details the secretive right-wing group's influence on the state's legislative agenda.

Despite being shunned by many of its members amid controversy a year ago, ALEC continues to exert substantial influence in North Carolina. House Speaker Thom Tillis is a national board member, and former Rep. Fred Steen, the past state ALEC chairman, is Gov. Pat McCrory’s legislative lobbyist.

A handful of measures sponsored by North Carolina lawmakers this session include language identical to ALEC’s template legislation. At least two dozen more bills match the organization’s priorities and intent, if not its exact language – everything from requiring voter ID at the polls and allowing private school vouchers to repealing the federal health care law and prioritizing energy exploration.

ALEC’s role in North Carolina makes it a target for critics, particularly the think tank’s cozy relationship with business interests, who play a prominent, but mostly behind-the-scenes, role in crafting legislation alongside the roughly 50 North Carolina lawmakers listed as members.

Republicans affiliated with the organization dismiss the criticism as hyperbole, arguing the organization serves merely as a resource for networking and public policy analysis. But they are keenly aware of it’s public persona.

“It’s a lightning rod organization because it has a decidedly conservative bent – there’s no doubt about it,” said Rep. Craig Horn, a Weddington Republican and ALEC member.

The story, which also ran in the Charlotte Observer, mentions several ALEC-inspired bills that have made it onto the General Assembly docket.  Among them:
  • A bill that would shield Crown Holdings of Philadelphia from asbestos-related litigation
  • A bill that would shield companies from obesity lawsuits
  • A right-to-work amendment to the state constitution
  • A tenther-oriented statement of state sovereignty

The language in all of these closely follows ALEC model legislation.  At least two major North Carolina companies--Duke Energy, the state's biggest investor-owned utility, and tobacco giant Reynolds American--are members.  Apparently they didn't jump ship last year in the furor over the "stand your ground" law.

Not long ago, several liberal groups uploaded a raft of ALEC documents to the Internet, along with the text of several ALEC-inspired bills in the legislature.  Additionally, Common Cause's suit challenging ALEC's nonprofit status is well underway.

Predictably, ALEC's supporters claim that the criticism is much ado about nothing.  ALEC state chairman Jason Saine, a state representative from the Charlotte suburb of Lincolnton, says ALEC is no different from the National Conference of State Legislatures. One difference, though--NCSL is truly bipartisan, and corporations aren't at the table.

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Tue May 07, 2013 at 02:45 PM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project and State & Local ACTION Group.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site