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ALEC

Wisconsin Democrat cites Minnesota comparison

by Eric Ferguson on June 9, 2014 · 2 comments

garofalo-asleep-on-the-jobh/t Jeff Wilfahrt at Left.mn
 
Wisconsin State Representative Chris Taylor wrote about her experience attending an ALEC conference. ALEC couldn’t entirely keep her out since she paid her dues, but they didn’t try to make her feel welcome either. “Secrecy reigned supreme. When I asked one of my fellow attendees to take my picture, an ALEC employee forbade it.” This was the part that jumped out at me:
 

Finally, there are the economics of the ALEC otherworld. I chuckled at the scorn directed at Minnesota, where, Rep. [Pat] Garafalo remarked, “the inmates are running the asylum.” Minnesota raised taxes on the rich and invested the resulting revenue in public schools, including all-day kindergarten. In “Rich States, Poor States,” an ALEC publication that ranks states in terms of a 2013 State Economic Outlook, Minnesota ranks 46th, Wisconsin 15th and Mississippi 10th. Yet in 2012 Minnesota had one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation, and currently has higher median incomes and lower unemployment and poverty rates than both Wisconsin and Mississippi (where a whopping 17.5 percent of families have incomes below the poverty level). The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts Minnesota near the top of private-sector job growth in the Midwest, while Wisconsin lags near the bottom. In the ALEC otherworld, actual economics do not count.
 
It’s all about a business-friendly environment. Hello, Third World.

I noted a couple times in my live blog of the DFL convention that speakers compared Minnesota to Wisconsin, in a way flattering to Minnesota. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman briefly, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk gave the comparison some length. I wondered if Wisconsin Democrats were making the same comparison. There’s an answer. One is, anyway. That’s some reassurance that we’re seeing what we think we’re seeing, and not merely living in a state boundary bubble. ALEC sees it the same way, except they think budget crises are good, and better for funding schools is bad, so no wonder ALEC is upset with us.
 
And we see Rep. Taylor encountered one of the Minnesota Republicans who is more, quick witted isn’t quite the term … what’s a term for quick witted, except annoying rather witty? Anyway, she ran into Rep. Pat Garafalo, whose policy analysis on energy, “solar is dumb”, is more or less what we’ve come to expect, at least before he earned some positive attention for supporting marriage equality and medical marijuana. Good for him, getting on the right side of those two issues. Though yes, Rep. Taylor, what you heard is pretty much what we get over on this side of the St. Croix.

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Is it bad that my first reaction to George Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict was “Thank God we have Mark Dayton so we didn’t get one of those BS ALEC-inspired ‘Stand your ground’ laws in Minnesota”?

 

This verdict is a tragedy for the Martin family, who lost their son and brother and now have no justice to show for it. I don’t blame the black community for a second for anger and fear and immense racial animus over this. But let’s be honest with ourselves: if Trayvon Martin were instead Tomas Martino, a scary-looking dark-skinned kid from Oaxaca, would George Zimmerman have done anything differently?

 

George Zimmerman is a racist scumbag. But this is a tragedy for a family, a community, and for our entire society — that we allow entire states to pass laws which allow armed bigots to kill someone whose look they don’t like, make ex post facto claims of “fear for one’s life”, and get away with murder. All in the name of freedom and liberty from people we don’t like, words we don’t want to hear, sights we don’t want to see. “Stand Your Ground” is nothing less than the legalization of the NRA’s “armed society = polite society” trope, one of the most unamerican pieces of stinking filth in existence today.

 

We cannot bring back Trayvon Martin, nor will we be able to bring back the next person who is gunned down because they wore a hoodie in the wrong neighborhood by an overzealous bigot with legal cover. Or the one after that. Let’s be perfectly clear-headed about this, it’s going to happen again and again and again while these idiotic fear-driven laws exist. The only thing we can do is get the morons and bigots who passed these laws out of office, whatever it takes, and repeal them in the name of freedom: freedom from idiocy, armed bigotry, and fear itself.

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ALEC investigated

by The Big E on May 30, 2012 · 1 comment

First I heard from DFL legislators complaining that during committee hearings some Republicans were unable to answer questions about bills they authored. I remember one Representative quipping “it was like he didn’t even write the bill himself.”

In a world where corporate lobbyists often draft bills for their Republican allies, this sounded sadly typical of the MNGOP. But it turned out to be far more insidious.

Republican legislators across the nation actually just copy-pasted boilerplate language that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) approved. All many MNGOP legislators had to do was change [Your State Here] to Minnesota and the like.

Eventually, the word started to get out about the extent of ALEC’s control of Minnesota Republican legislators. Alecexposed.org is a great starting point. They have a MN page listing all bills they are aware of that are ALEC bills.

ALEC files as a tax-exempt charitable organization. However, they behave much more like a lobbyist. Charities cannot lobby.

Common Cause cause has been tracking ALEC’s MN activity and filed a complaint with our Campaign Finance Board.

Today, the Campaign Finance Board agreed to investigate ALEC:

The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board says it will investigate the American Legislative Exchange Council’s lobbying status in Minnesota.

The board disclosed the investigation in a letter to Common Cause Minnesota, the local arm of a national group that is asking many states to probe whether the conservative organization has violated its tax-exempt status.

Hopefully, Attorney General Lori Swanson and the IRS will also investigate.

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As a sort of follow up on Alec’s post, I think each Minnesota Republican legislator should answer the question “are you now or have you ever been a member of ALEC?”

American Legislative Exchange Council is the corporate lobby group behind vote suppression and “Shoot First” gun laws across the nation. But ALEC wants more than that. They want to gut environmental laws. They want supermajorities bills passed. They want so-called “Right-To-Work” bills passed to decimate unions.

But not every Republican wants to be associated with them.

A grassroots campaign by Keystone Progress to encourage Pennsylvania legislators to publicly reject membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is already yielding dividends. Five former members of the shadowy right-wing front group behind state laws restricting access to the ballot and “stand your ground” gun laws have already said they have left ALEC. One of those, State Sen. John Pippy (R), is the former ALEC Pennsylvania state chair. Nationally, thirteen companies have announced they have severed ties with the “stealth business lobbyist” organization. Zaid Jilani reports 28 lawmakers nationwide have quit ALEC this month.

Of course, if any MNGOP lawmakers admit membership, ask them the follow up:

“Will you renounce ALEC and begin representing the needs of Minnesotans?”


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Video: ALEC in Minnesota

by JeffStrate on April 21, 2012 · 2 comments

With a growing body of Minnesota-based videos and reporting about ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) though MPP, Common Cause Minnesota and Mothers Against Military Madness, Democratic Visions here attempts to summarize what has been happening — albeit in a simplified TV kind of way.   Here you go:  

(direct link to YouTube)

The video is part of our April program seen on Minneapolis, southwest suburban and Blooming Cable systems.

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Republicans figured out in the 1970s that they do better when fewer people vote. If they can make it harder to register to vote, they’ve done so. The latest, ALEC-inspired onslaught is nothing new, just more coordinated. Famous GOP and evangelical activist Paul Weyrich said it best:

Now that the Voter ID constitutional amendment passed the legislature and will appear on the ballot, a few things have become clear about it — first and foremost is that it gets rid of same-day registration.

A study by Cal-Irvine and Virginia Tech indicates that states with same-day registration have 7% higher turnout than states that don’t allow it. Furthermore, they conclude that same-day registration benefits the middle class and the poor. The middle class and the poor overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

One of the main reasons Minnesota often leads the nation in voter turnout is same day registration.

Essentially, Republicans want to suppress enough DFL votes so they avoid 312 votes losses like they suffered in ’08 with Norm Coleman and 9,000 vote losses like they had with Tom Emmer.

Yes, that’s right. Elimination of same-day registration would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.

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Kurt Zellers wrote an op-ed in Sunday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune. In it he claimed that the Republicans have the best ideas for creating jobs. He asked Gov. Mark Dayton to take his parties ideas seriously.

However, we may never know if they have any ideas at all because they keep pushing hyper-partisan constitutional amendments and far right divisive social legislation instead.

Last year, Republicans worked on 32 far right bills instead of working on the state budget. This year they’ve kept themselves very busy with their pet dream bills and have introduced 19 constitutional amendments.

As many Minnesotans still look for good paying jobs, the MNGOP wants to pass their so-called “Right-To-Work” constitutional amendment. “Right-To-Work” states create fewer jobs than non-“Right-To-Work” states. Furthermore those jobs are lower paying than in states without “Right-To-Work” legislation. Minnesotans doesn’t need more openings at fast food chains and WalMart.

As Minnesota’s highways and other infrastructure are crumbling and repairing and maintaining them would create good unions jobs, the MNGOP is pushing a constitutional amendment to disenfranchise poor, minority, student and senior voters. Constituencies who traditionally vote DFL.

Instead of creating jobs, Republicans have re-introduces their Shoot-First bill which will likely bring about situations just like in Florida with a white man shoots a threatening-yet-unarmed black teenager.

Rather than creating jobs, the MNGOP are trying to put a supermajority constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot. Under this amendment, only a supermajority could raise taxes. In other words, Minnesota would be enter the same death spiral that is killing California.

Rather than create jobs, the MNGOP wants to lower taxes on the richest 1%. They have a strongly held belief (held with a quite zealous fervor) that rich people are Magical Job Creators. Despite much proof that the rich don’t create jobs when they have lower taxes.

So … Mr. Zellers, we’re still waiting to see what bills ALEC will instruct you to pass that might have anything remotely to do with creating decent paying jobs in Minnesota.

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When you see a Republican at the legislature unable to explain a finer point of his bill or doesn’t even sounds unfamiliar with her bill, don’t be surprised. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) wrote the bill for him/her. The Koch Brothers funded organization is pushing all kinds of bad ideas in Republican-controlled legislature across the country. They are also hiding as a nonprofit to avoid the transparency lobbyists face.

Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls) proposed shining the light on ALEC’s activities at the State Capitol. Unsurprisingly, the MNGOP is opposed and his amendment failed.

“This was a common-sense amendment that would have added more transparency to our political system,” Sen. Dibble said. “This is the type of information every Minnesotan deserves to have. Our state already has very strong campaign finance and lobbying laws that require lawmakers to disclose which lobbyists send them money; this amendment simply makes sure there’s not a loophole that allows certain special interests to hide from public view.”

Sen. Dibble’s amendment would have required organizations such as ALEC that advocate “model legislation” to register as a lobbyist principal. In addition, organizations that distribute scholarship funds for lawmaker to attend conferences would need to disclose that information, and all legislators receiving scholarship funds from those organizations would be required to report them on annual statements of financial disclosure registered with the Campaign Finance Board.

Senator Dibble said it was disappointing to see the amendment rejected, but even more alarming to witness Local Government and Elections Committee Chair Ray Vandeveer, R-Stillwater, seeming to mislead the public in Senate Floor debate.

“Sen. Vandeveer suggested this measure should have been vetted during normal committee meetings,” Sen. Dibble said. “That suggestion is frustrating, because I requested two separate committee hearings on this bill, Senate File 2249, and twice was ignored by Chair Vandeveer himself. It seems Republicans will go to any length needed to protect their special-interest influences.”

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MNGOP Attacks Teachers at ALEC’s Request

by Alec on February 23, 2012 · 2 comments

     There’s another ALEC Bill in the pipeline. This one comes from the Bill Gates funded education arm of ALEC. The latest right that Republicans want to take away is teachers’ right to strike over compensation.

    We know that the MNGOP loves legislating solutions to problems that do not exist. A historical look at teacher strikes in Minnesota is in order. In 1946, the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers held the first teacher’s strike in the nation. Since 1946, that pioneering teachers union has gone on strike an additional zero times. In the last decade there have been less than five teacher strikes statewide.

    One of the things that has kept teacher strikes so few is the January deadline for contracts to settle. Past January there has been a pretty stiff penalty for districts that have not settled. This has helped Minnesota stay relatively strike free. The MNGOP removed that law.

  In addition, the MNGOP wants to remove the stipulation that automatic cost of living increases or other benefits continue while negotiating new contracts. This means, when an old contract expired, any language of how they would operate while negotiating a new contract would be moot. There would actually be incentive for management to drag negotiations out for as long as possible. Finally, when the new contract is settled, there would be no retroactive pay if any increases were negotiated for in the interim.

  So, let’s review.

1) Take away the deadline for contracts to be settled, removing penalties for drawn out negotiations.  

2) Complain that negotiations go too long, and distract from learning.

3) Remove workers right to strike.

4) Don’t allow for previously negotiated increases to take place during negotiations of new contract.

5) Don’t allow for retroactive pay for any new benefits negotiated for.

It’s another ALEC jobs bill!!

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TakeAction Minnesota released the following statement following passage of S.F. 1577, the proposed photo ID constitutional amendment, out of the Senate Local Government & Elections Committee this afternoon, on an 8-6 party-line vote:

“Despite the growing vocal opposition of Minnesotans across this state to the proposed photo ID amendment – including over four-and-a-half hours of oppositional testimony two weeks ago and hundreds of people crowding the halls of the Capitol – Senate Republicans passed S.F. 1577, the restrictive photo ID bill, out of its first committee today.

Despite zero convictions of voter impersonation in Minnesota, the only thing a photo ID would prevent, Senate Republicans passed the proposed photo ID amendment out of committee.

Despite numbers put forward two weeks ago by Minnesota’s Secretary of State demonstrating the depth and scope of those who would be stripped of their right to vote — over 715,000 eligible Minnesota voters – Senate Republicans passed the restrictive photo ID bill out of committee.

And despite putting same-day registration and absentee voting at risk, bedrocks of Minnesota’s excellent elections system, Senate Republicans passed the restrictive photo ID bill out of committee today.

The real question is, why?  Who stands to gain the most from fewer people participating in our democracy?  

One of the biggest crises facing both our state and country is the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics, a system that makes it legal for the richest few to give unlimited amounts of money to candidates and candidate committees. Simultaneously, conservative legislators in states across the country, running the ALEC playbook, seek to rewrite the rules of democracy for their own economic benefit.

The more people know about the proposed photo ID amendment, the more they oppose it. That’s because most of us don’t have the kind of money, and the outsized political influence big money buys, to shape the laws and policies we live under.  All we have is one vote – a vote we have the constitutional right to keep. And now, a band of conservative legislators, doing the bidding of the 1% who put them in office, seeks to restrict voting rights for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans simply because they can. It’s wrong and we will continue to fight this.”


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