ALEC has pushed other destructive laws across the country, many of which are already being adopted:
1. Pushing voter suppression laws: The group’s model legislation was a big factor in the wave of voter suppression laws passed ahead of the 2012 election in states such as Texas, Wisconsin, and Florida. These bills include restrictive ID requirements, cutting back on early voting, residency restrictions that often impact enrollment for college students, putting roadblocks in the way of mass voter registrations, and others. While the group vowed to focus just on economic issues after corporations pulled funding in response to these voter efforts, the efforts are still moving forward in many states.
2. Reducing or eliminating income taxes: Research conducted for ALEC has claimed that cutting the income tax rate in states will spur growth and create jobs, and manystates have followed up on this research and proposed just such plans. The group’sconnection to anti-tax efforts was made abundantly clear when a state lawmaker neglected to remove its mission statement from a boilerplate bill.
3. Blocking paid sick leave bills: While the movement to guarantee workers paid sick days has gained momentum at the city and state level, as New York City just joinedfour other cities and Connecticut with such a bill, ALEC has been behind a counter effort to make sure these laws can’t be enacted. The latest such bill passed in Florida, where local governments are now forbidden from enacting paid sick leave legislation. They have also cropped up in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Mississippi.
4. Attacking efforts to raise wages: More than 100 bills have been introduced in 31 state legislatures since 2011 that are aimed at repealing or weakening laws that raise wages at the local level, 67 of which were “directly sponsored or co-sponsored by ALEC-affiliated legislators,” according to a report from the National Employment Law Project. Eleven of those have already been signed into law. The proposed laws attempt to repeal state minimum wage laws that are above the federal floor of $7.25 an hour, reduce the minimum wages for young people and tipped workers, weaken overtime compensation, and block local governments from passing bills that increase pay to a living wage.
5. Taking down state renewable energy standards: In partnership with the Heartland Institute, ALEC has written model legislation called the “Electricity Freedom Act” that rolls back state standards. It argues that renewable energy mandates are “a tax on consumers of electricity” and that they go beyond what market forces would call for. Such a bill was being considered in North Carolina, although failed in committee, and it is now under consideration in Kansas. States have also pushed an ALEC-backed bill to teach climate change denial in schools.
6. Banning the exposure of unsafe or cruel farm practices: Seven states are considering “ag gag” bills that would prevent whistleblowers from exposing inhumane factory practices against farm animals, requiring that evidence be turned over to law enforcement within 24 or 48 hours. These bills have their roots in ALEC’s effort on legislation that labels people who interfere with these operations terrorists and makes it illegal for activists to take pictures or video of them.
“An organization that tries to convince state legislatures to impose limits on municipal broadband sent a cease-and-desist letter to one of its critics that is refusing to stay quiet.
Bills limiting municipal ISPs in Kansas and Utah continue noble tradition.
The fight is happening between the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Credo Action. ALECopposes municipal broadband projects and writes model legislation that limits the authority of cities and towns to build their own telecommunications networks. About 20 states have passed such laws.
Credo Action is the advocacy arm of cellular phone company Credo Mobile, whose revenue funds its advocacy. Credo lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to preempt state laws that limit municipal broadband, criticizing ALEC along the way.
In a petition titled, “Stop AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from blocking fast and affordable Internet access,” Credo wrote, “Imagine having affordable, lightning-fast Internet access at your home that is 50-100 times faster than the national average. That could soon be a reality, but the shadowy American Legislative Exchange Council is working to make sure it never happens.”
ALEC’s extreme, far-right agenda goes much further than fighting to stop municipal broadband and blocking efforts to address climate change:
- “Shoot first” laws: ALEC initially gained public prominence after George Zimmerman, the murderer of Trayvon Martin, walked free because of Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law. ALEC had backed similar model gun owners’ rights bills in multiple states.9
- Voter suppression: State-level voter ID laws designed to make it harder for minorities to vote have swept the nation in recent years. Many of these laws were based on ALEC’s 2009 model “Voter ID Act.” ALEC’s founder Paul Weyrich once even said, “I don’t want everybody to vote . . . As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”10
- ALEC has also worked to block paid sick leave laws, stop increases in the minimum wage and ban the exposure of cruel and unsafe practices on factory farms.11