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Archive for Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kansas Republican Legislators report on what they learned at ALEC

September 7, 2011

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Approximately two dozen Kansas legislators will start the 2012 legislative session armed with information on defeating federal health reform, expanding charter schools and lowering business taxes that they received at the American Legislative Exchange Council meeting.

In written reports filed with the state, the legislators — all Republicans ­­— said Kansas will benefit by their attendance at ALEC’s annual meeting, which was held Aug. 3-6 in New Orleans.

The written comments of Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, were typical of many of the legislators’ reports.

“The strongest benefit to Kansas of attending national organizations like ALEC is that I learn what is being done in other states and what worked and didn’t work in other states with the issues that are affecting all of us,” Knox wrote.

ALEC describes its mission as advancing free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty. The group includes legislators and representatives of corporate interests that produce “model legislation.” If the legislative members of ALEC approve the legislation they will then take those measures back to state capitals across the nation for possible approval. Some of those measures — aimed at thwarting the federal health reform law and the EPA — have been approved in Kansas.

Shortly after the ALEC meeting in New Orleans, Gov. Sam Brownback rejected a $31.5 million federal grant, which he had earlier accepted, to establish a health insurance exchange system. Brownback’s administration has stopped implementation of an exchange in Kansas for now although Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is continuing to work on the issue.

The exchange is a key part of President Barack Obama’s health reform legislation. It is designed to provide citizens with a one-stop shop to purchase health insurance and determine eligibility for subsidies to get coverage. It was a major topic of discussion at the ALEC meeting.

In the written reports, Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, and several other legislators mentioned discussions on exchanges. “This year I was able to attend in-depth presentations on health care exchange implementation that included a spirited and helpful discussion on the options available to states including the pros and cons of taking no action.”

In Kansas, legislators who attend conferences that are at least partially funded by taxpayer dollars are required to write a report about ways the Legislature and state will benefit by their attendance.

When it comes to ALEC, the state pays for registration fees to the meeting for those who serve on an ALEC task force, which according to reimbursement forms ranged from $375 to $575. Other expenses are picked up by the legislator unless he or she received a scholarship, which is supplied by donations to ALEC. The state pays all the expenses of legislators who serve on the national board.

As of early September, about half of the legislators who had attended the ALEC conference in August had submitted their reports.

The Journal-World requested access to those reports already filed.

Some of the reports were brief — just a couple of sentences — but others were more in-depth, sharing information on policy issues and committee doings at the ALEC meeting.

Knox said that in an energy committee all sides of “green” energy were presented.

“The facts are that it is very limited in the energy it can supply and very dependent upon governmental subsidy. Conventional energy will be needed for the foreseeable future, most notably natural gas, if coal is not used,” he wrote.

Sen. Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, who serves on the national board of ALEC, wrote, “Many of the subjects the Legislature will address during future sessions are discussed at ALEC.”

Merrick is on ALEC’s International Relations Committee, which he said spent time looking at how the European Union is trying to exert greater influence in the United States through giving money to academic institutions and non-governmental groups.

“Congressional oversight is needed to identify exactly how and where the E.U. is intervening inside the United States,” he said.

An agenda of the ALEC conference showed that speakers included former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who is now chairman of FreedomWorks; Tucker Carlson, a political analyst; Arthur Laffer, economist and chairman of Laffer Associates; Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil and director of Upstreams America; John Castellani, president and chief executive of PhRMA; Steve Moore, journalist and editorial board member of The Wall Street Journal; and David Dieter, head of government and public affairs of Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc.

Sen. Chris Steineger, R-Kansas City, attended the ALEC conference, and in his written report he commented on several of the speakers.

Steineger said Carlson said Republicans should “shake off the birthers” and “shariah law criers” because they turn off mainstream voters. Steineger also said Armey “gave a rambling, boring ‘speech’ that had little content or takeaway ideas.” He said Laffer said “Carter gave us Reagan” and suggested that Obama will give way to a Republican.

In an interview with the Journal-World, Steineger said he was aware of recent news reports of ALEC’s corporate ties, but said he saw little difference between ALEC and other groups that host conferences for legislators, such as the National Council of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments.

“All have corporate lobbyists hanging around. The Statehouse has corporate lobbyists,” he said. He said ALEC is more free market driven but that all three organizations discuss similar issues.

There are differences, however. NCSL committees are made up of legislators, while ALEC’s committees are made up of legislators and lobbyists. ALEC produces numerous legislative proposals, or “model legislation,” and NCSL rarely does that. In addition, NCSL leadership is bi-partisan, while most of ALEC’s members are Republican.

The NCSL describes itself as “a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation’s 50 states, its commonwealths and territories. NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues.”

The CSG describes itself as the “nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy.”

Merrick, who is on ALEC’s national board, said Kansans are well-served by those who represent them and attend ALEC events. He wrote, “The information obtained at the meetings is timely.”

Comments

BobSloan 2 years, 7 months ago

Many of us worked months to put together the Exposing ALEC articles and to publish ALEC's full line of ready made cut-and-paste "Model" legislation. All was made public on July 13th by the Center for Media and Democracy and the Nation magazine. All of ALEC's Model legislation can be found here: http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed and most states have already identified dozens of current and proposed legislation that is nearly word for word copied from these ALEC "bills".

The NCSL cannot be adequately compared to ALEC, for the reasons outlined in this article. However, if readers take a moment and visit the sites Council for National Policy and the State Government Affairs Council (SGAC http://www.sgac.org/aboutus.asp ) you'll find the same individuals, corporations and agenda as found at ALEC...you'll also find that ALEC is listed as a Partner organization to the SGAC, with many of the same corporations sitting on both boards. So RWer's can say what they want about the CSG and NCSL but those are independently run and unaffiliated organizations...whereas the CNP, SGAC and ALEC are all affiliated and assist one another on advancing their free market pro-corporate legislation nationwide. In upcoming articles and publications many will see that this close association between ALEC, CNP, and the SGAC are merely one small piece of a huge cabal made up of institutes, foundations, organizations and all of them corporately funded with one central agenda.

Outing ALEC only exposes the tip of the iceberg. We are trying to put together a national bus tour to take all of this public state by state since the MSM is bought and paid for (CBS, NBC, ABC and most major print publications) and they refuse to inform the public about the danger our democracy is in right now from this cabal.

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verity 2 years, 7 months ago

This isn't a liberal/conservative matter and those who would make it so are only contributing to the confusion. This is a fight for the survival of the working class in the United States. To ignore that and get sidetracked with all this partisan bickering that is going on is falling into the trap.

We can sit here all day and whine or we can fight back.

I'm in the process of organizing in the community where I live. I challenge you to do the same.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 7 months ago

Y'all need to quit picking on the Koch boys. They are just simple billionaires who got their money from daddy, who got it from the Commies. The family became anti-communist after they got the money, but...............They just want to elminate corporate income tax and 90% of the regulations. Once this happens, you will see they have the best interests of all Americans and all Kansans in their little old pea-pickin' hearts. Unless you breathe air or drink water, you'll be OK. Everyone relax. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_Ind...

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WilburNether 2 years, 7 months ago

What this liberal Journal-World "reporter" neglects to mention is that there is another organization, the National Conference of State Legislatures, that also holds an annual meeting (and others), and is just as far to the liberal side as ALEC is to the conservative side.

This guy is not an objective reporter; he's a liberal propagandist, at least until he publishes an article about the liberal bias of NCSL, and how the state (i.e., the taxpayer) pays for legislators to attend events of the liberal NCSL.

Most of the comments above are laughably ignorant.

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Jan Rolls 2 years, 7 months ago

Brownback has been to other meeting with the smart alecs. All one has to do is see who funds these jerks to know their motives. Their motto is "stiff everyone except the rich." You can't find a bigger bunch of losers than those idiots from kansas that attended. I don't know how they can look at themselves in the mirror everyday. One term sam is the biggest jerk of them all.

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Mary Alexander 2 years, 7 months ago

Recall them all they belong to the KOCH BROTHERS!!! ALEC is backed by them. They are all showing their true colors now. It is time to wake up people to what is going on in this State and Country before it is to late.

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Joe Hyde 2 years, 7 months ago

"...the state pays for registration fees to the meeting for those who serve on an ALEC task force, which according to reimbursement forms ranged from $375 to $575." Translation: Kansas taxpayers foot the bill.

"Other expenses are picked up by the legislator unless he or she received a scholarship, which is supplied by donations to ALEC." Really now: ALEC calls its financial support of Republican legislators "scholarships"? That's pretty funny.

"The state pays all the expenses of legislators who serve on the (ALEC) national board." Uh oh! we taxpayers get billed for all expenses run up by every Republican legislator who ALEC considers a true believer.

These ALEC "scholarships" are a money carrot, but only a temporary one. Republican legislators who perform strongly enough in ALEC's anti-union, pro-corporate dance contest are named to the national board, after which -- hello! -- Kansas taxpayers pick up the entire tab for their future participation at ALEC functions.

That's quite a payroll savings for ALEC.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 7 months ago

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/09/06/312067/at-strategy-seminar-with-wealthy-guests-charles-koch-referred-to-obama-as-a-saddam-hussein-to-be-defeated/

The Kochs hate Obama so much they call him "A "Saddam Hussein" to be defeated in the "mother of all wars." No matter how you feel about Obama, is this "democracy"?

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 7 months ago

We could save a lot of time and trouble by raising a white flag and giving these insane power hungry neanderthals what they want.

1) Eliminate capital gains taxes 2) Eliminate income taxes. 3) Eliminate taxes on all foreign profits returned to the United States. 4) Eliminate Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 5) Eliminate all responsibility of the employer toward the employees including any government paperwork. 6) Eliminate workers compensation 7) Etc., etc., etc...

The Republican debaters brought up a lot of good points, but why didn't they work on those things during the Bush administration and before that the Clinton administration?

The bottom line is the tax cuts their handlers and backers want.

It is amazing how these people can lie with a straight face and sleep at night.

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vuduchyld 2 years, 7 months ago

The banks were rewarded for unbridled greed 'cause the country is ruled by financial elites It's a 21st century oligarchy campaign finance gave us corporatocracy

Keep your tea away from me You've been drinkin, I can see I think I'll have a glass of lemonade Your slash and burn democracy Is not good public policy That tea is causing your intelligence to fade

(watch the music video here!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmSh2qRHDnc

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 7 months ago

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Exposed:

http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/15044.htm

People need to make up their own mind about whether they want their elected representatives to attend these indoctrination sessions and be handed legislation already served up for them to vote yes on.

It strikes me as the antithesis of the American spirit and what we stand for when these groups who are controlled by extreme, biased and narrow leadership with an absolute agenda to influence and control our government and the political discourse are able to have access that voters do not and unlimited resources (money) to get whatever they want.

Does the average American even count anymore?

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 7 months ago

Republican legislators fall into line, goosestepping our state into the future. They make a mockery of "democracy". Welcome to corporatacracy.

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verity 2 years, 7 months ago

I posted the first article on another thread. Since then I came across the second one. The articles are about different facets of the attempt to undermine our United States Constitution.

http://www.truth-out.org/goodbye-all-reflections-gop-operative-who-left-cult/1314907779

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-gop-war-on-voting-20110830

Quote from the Rolling Stone article: "No one has done more to stir up fears about the manufactured threat of voter fraud than Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, . . . 'In Kansas, the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive,' Kobach claimed, offering no substantiating evidence."

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 7 months ago

ALEC = National Socialist Kansas Republicans moving forward in their attempts to destroy the lawfully elected administration in Washington. Using taxpayer money and absured explanations to the clueless media, these elected officials have raided the treasury to attempt a coup of the national health law, as most facist Republicans are attempting to do. You voted for these wonks, and this is what you get.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 7 months ago

Our little corporate warriors return home ready to do the bidding of their corporate masters, waging class war against pretty much everyone, including the vast majority of voters who elected these guys to office.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 7 months ago

wow, dumblicans learning....please don't make me compare that statement to military intelligence...better yet...these clowns get paid to visit other clowns and be told what to think so that all the churchlicans, racelicans, gunlikans, and hatelicans can goose step in line with each other...New Orleans... go back to the early 1960's when John Steinbeck witnessed grown ignorant southerners harrassing and screaming epithets at a young African-American girl trying to attend an integrated public school and wrote about it in his book, "Travels with Charlie". I remember going to Lollapalooza in 1993 in New Orleans and seeing the racism of Metairie, Louisiana, with "Repeal the 14th Amendment" stickers on the backs of cars...what wonderful racist people. And who can forget the Danziger Bridge incident that was recently adjucated in court with guilty verdicts. State's Rights= racism...spoken from a person whose elders in Mississippi said as such in the 1970's.

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ksrush 2 years, 7 months ago

Tuschie seems to be blatantly absent as well. Hmmmmm

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 7 months ago

Is merrill okay? I figured he'd be on this like white on rice.

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question4u 2 years, 7 months ago

What's involved in learning to be a better corporate tool? Did they just learn to improve their doublespeak, dissemination of misinformation and methods of disguising disdain for constituents, or did their lobbyist teachers let them in on higher level secrets for selling out the people of Kansas?

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observant 2 years, 7 months ago

GOP legislators are very proud of fact they are bought and paid for.

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moonflower 2 years, 7 months ago

Are we really at the point where they proudly admit to attended indoctrination junkets ?

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