Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1700, August 2nd, 2011



Today The LuLac Political Letter presents its 1700th edition. We are 5 years strong, and providence willing we’ll keep on writing about politics and pop culture here in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties, the state of Pennsylvania and the United States. Thanks for your support and comments kind and unkind through the editions.


Attorney Harry Hamlton said he is not going to enter the race for Luzerne County Judge as an Independent Write In. There are more than a few Judicial candidates in Luzerne County right now wiping some sweat off their brows. Hamilton’s write in candidacy would force the duel winners as well as Attorney Dick Hughes and Molly Hanlon Mirabito to rethink some strategies. The question of which candidate would lose votes to Hamilton was a concern as well as his comments on diversity in the county. Hamilton’s decision for him politically is wise. Write In campaigns even with the new voting machines are tough to pull off. A future run by Hamilton with a party identification would serve him better in the long run.


A new report released today reveals a disturbing level of influence by corporate lobbyists in Pennsylvania. A secretive organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been writing legislation which PA legislators have been passing off as their own work. The bills written by ALEC cover virtually every area of public policy, including health care, budgeting and tax policy. The report was written by Keystone Progress, a progressive advocacy group based in Harrisburg.
“We are not talking about legislators following a corporate agenda, there is nothing new in that.” said Eileen Connelly, chair of Keystone Progress. “This is legislation which is used verbatim by legislators who pretend that they wrote these bills.”
Among the bills copied from ALEC’s “Model Bills” website are:
HB 42, the “Freedom of choice in Healthcare Act,” introduced by Rep. Matthew Baker (R, Bradford, Tioga)
HB 250, the “Council on Efficient Government Act, “ introduced by Rep. Rep. Seth Grove (R, York)
HB 1349, the “Regulatory Review Act,” introduced by Rep. Tina Pickett (R, Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna)
The report identifies 23 legislators who are ALEC members, including much of the GOP leadership in the General Assembly. Twenty-two of the 23 are GOP legislators. Only one is a Democrat.
Until now it has been difficult to show the connection between ALEC and corporate takeover of democracy. Last week The Center for Media and Democracy uncovered 800 bills and resolutions that were voted on by ALEC members, showing how its unelected corporate members are given a direct voice on the creation of bills that affect the lives of American citizens every day. The agenda embedded in these bills is about tilting the system into favoring those with money and power. Through de-regulation of industry, voter suppression and setting up barriers to direct democracy ALEC legislation has greatly influenced the political landscape in many states, including Pennsylvania.
These bills align closely with the agenda of the Republican leadership in both chambers. With over 800 bills, it is impossible to compare each to the bills introduced in the PA House and Senate this year without reviewing each ALEC bill and comparing it to similar legislation in PA.
Here’s an excerpt from the report:
When politicians say their state is “open for business,” they usually mean that it is business-friendly. In the case of much of Pennsylvania’s Republican General Assembly leadership, they mean it literally. They are members of a secretive organization that links conservative lawmakers and corporate power brokers, called the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC. ALEC’s corporate members draft “model” legislation behind closed doors and then give it to their legislative allies to introduce and hopefully pass. It is legislation that is drafted for the sole purpose of favorably affecting the corporate bottom line at the expense of our democracy.
ALEC is behind the efforts in Pennsylvania to pass bills that strip away union rights, scale back child labor laws, attack the regulation power of environmental agencies, suppress voter rights with strict identification requirements, eliminate the social safety net, and privatize public services. They not only have written the bills, but are frequently invited to testify on behalf of those bills once they are introduced in Pennsylvania. This model of spoon feeding legislators is a corruption of representative, open government and is an abrogation of duty on the part of our elected legislators.
What is ALEC?
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a conservative association, funded almost entirely by big business interests, that brings together corporate lobbyists and legislators. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The organization, with a staff of 30 and a $5.5 million yearly budget, teams lawmakers up with corporate interests to push decidedly pro-business bills through state legislatures. Any lawmaker who is a member of the group can simply log on to its Web site and find hundreds of bills to copy. They can shop for ideas on how to curb class-action lawsuits, help the telecommunications industry or toughen the criminal justice system.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/8/2005]
While ALEC claims to be nonpartisan the vast majority of its board members and state chairs belong to the Republican Party. Of the 23 members of the public sector board in 2011, 23 are Republicans. Of the 73 filled state chairmen seats, 71 are held by Republicans (one is Democrat and one is non-partisan). [American Legislative Exchange Council Board of Directors, State Chairmen] In Pennsylvania, of the 23 identified ALEC members of the General Assembly, 22 are Republicans.
ALEC provides legislators with a means to appear highly active in the legislative process by transferring their role in drafting legislation to corporate special interests. State legislative staff in PA is mostly focused on constituent services and generally lack the resources to research and develop public policy, so ALEC draft legislation allows legislators to appear that they are hard at work drafting bills. ALEC addresses this issue directly in their membership brochure stating “To date, ALEC has considered, written, and approved hundreds of model bills, resolutions and policy statements. Benefits of Membership: The ALEC policy staff provides research, policy analysis, scholarly articles, reference materials, legislative bill tracking, and expert testimony on a wide spectrum of issues. Through these publications ALEC serves as the ‘state legislators’ think tank.’” [ALEC Membership Application]
In 2009, 826 ALEC Bills Were Introduced In Statehouses, And 115 Were Enacted Into Law. According to ALEC’s 2010 Legislative Scorecard, 826 pieces of ALEC legislation were introduced in statehouses around the country in 2009 and 115 were enacted into law. [American Legislative Exchange Council 2010 Legislative Scorecard]
Some of the major ALEC funding sources include Richard Mellon Scaife’s Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Foundation, the Scaife Family Foundation, Exxon Mobil and Koch brothers-related funding sources. [Source: Media Matters Conservative Transparency] ALEC’s private sector (corporate) division is comprised of major corporations that pay a minimum of $5,000 per year just to have a seat at the table. Others pay up to $50,000 to sponsor events at ALEC meetings. Its legislator members pay only a nominal fee of $50 for a two year membership.[American Legislative Exchange Council 2001 brochure, “Corporate Edition”; ALEC Membership Application, Viewed March , 2011; ALEC Private Sector Membership] Pennsylvania’s ALEC Delegation 2


At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOP=party of hate+enemy of the people

At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For your 1701st issue, you should post the starship enterprise, which has a registry number of ncc-1701 on its hull.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DEM = keep people poor and reliant on government so they keep voting dem, because once someone actually earns a substansial income they realize how much is being stolen to support the dredges of society.


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