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Archive for Tuesday, May 1, 2012

House committee votes to stop use of state funds for legislators to participate in several organizations, including ALEC

May 1, 2012

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— The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a budget provision that would prohibit state funds from being used for legislators to participate in several organizations, including the American Legislative Exchange Council.

State Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane, proposed the ban on state funds for legislators who are members of the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments.

But state Rep. Doug Gatewood, D-Columbus, said ALEC should be part of that ban too.

DeGraaf said he had no problem including ALEC, adding that he has attended ALEC meetings and his expenses have been paid through "scholarships" and not state funds.

The Appropriations Committee approved adding the ban to its proposed budget bill that now goes to the full House.

Since ALEC scholarships are funded by corporate interests, the proposed ban may have little impact on most ALEC members, although legislators said later that some state funds have been expended on registration for ALEC meetings but didn't know exactly how much.

ALEC has been at the center of controversy in recent months for pushing laws benefiting corporations, voter ID requirements and so-called "stand your ground" laws, which was cited in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Florida teen. In the past several weeks, some of ALEC's largest corporate members have broken ties with the organization.

Even before the Martin shooting, ALEC was under fire from public watchdog groups that alleged the organization was a front for corporate interests, including Kansas-based Koch Industries, to influence state laws and public policies.

In Kansas, a contingent of approximately two dozen legislators, all Republicans, have been active in ALEC, going to its meetings, serving in leadership positions on its board and returning to Kansas with model legislation that they then start pushing through the legislative process. Most of those expenses have been funded through ALEC, which collects money from corporations.

ALEC, which enjoys tax-exempt status as a non-profit, 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.”

But the Center for Media and Democracy, which has been critical of ALEC, says there is a big difference between ALEC and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The center says that ALEC has corporate leaders and members, who vote on bills behind closed doors, while NCSL doesn't. In addition, ALEC is funded almost entirely by corporations and nearly all of ALEC's legislative leaders are Republican, while the NCSL leadership is bi-partisan.

NCSL describes itself as a bi-partisan organization that provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues.

The Council of State Governments describes itself as a nonpartisan organization that brings state leaders together to share ideas, providing them the chance to learn valuable lessons from each other. The executive director is David Adkins, a former state senator from Kansas.

Comments

jeffyg 1 year, 11 months ago

Yup.... those evil Koch brothers....

I think this is how we interpret this article:

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

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observant 1 year, 11 months ago

Love the way the GOP/Teabaggers claim that the ALEC bribes are scholarships. Lack the b***s to admit fact they are being bribed.

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Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

Does anyone else have a problem with our elected representatives accepting "scholarships". Elected reps are not supposed to accept gifts related to their work. Am I missing something?

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WilburNether 1 year, 11 months ago

Translation: Pathetic liberals 'R' us.

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deathpenaltyliberal 1 year, 11 months ago

Hey bitchtoe

Why should we spend tax dollars to promotoe special interests?

Your support of stand your ground laws is noted. When your unarmed child is shot and the perp isn't even charged, then get back to us.

And get back to us when you have a legit comment and not just whining.

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progressive_thinker 1 year, 11 months ago

The bigger goal should be to hold members of the legislature to the same standard that executive branch employees are held to in terms of accepting gifts, travel, and admission to conferences. [See K.S.A.46-237a].

Unfortunately, the ALEC is still permitted to use it's deep pockets to exert undue influence over lawmakers in terms of scholarships for admission to "events" and other benefits. Note that a line level state employee can be disciplined if they accept so much as a ball point pen as a gift that is offered because of their position.

The double standard is breathtaking.

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bigtoe 1 year, 11 months ago

Let's see, according to this board there are 7 people (8 if you include Scott) in all of liberal, loony Lawrence who would waste any band width on the ridiculous proposition that ALEC members should be curtailed in exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, or in their rights and duties to formulate and enact legislation in their respective home States.

By the way, you can moan and groan till the cows come home but there won't be a single State that repeals its Stand Your Ground law, including Kansas. Further, there's no way they can make a 2nd degree murder charge stick against Zimmerman, so, put bags over your heads before they explode when the jury acquits Zimmerman.

This is going to be tough year for you guys with all the above plus Obama losing in a landslide to Romney and the Republicans taking full control of the Senate.

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pace 1 year, 11 months ago

It made me sick to see so much tax money going to Alec, which was against working family rights.

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autie 1 year, 11 months ago

ALEC. Bringing you the best government money can buy.

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costello 1 year, 11 months ago

"The Council of State Governments describes itself as a nonpartisan organization that brings state leaders together to share ideas, providing them the chance to learn valuable lessons from each other."

So legislators who wish to attend the nonpartisan conferences will now have to pay their own way, while those wishing to go to ALEC will continue to be paid for by special interest money?

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texburgh 1 year, 11 months ago

Let's recognize this motion for what it is: Moderate Republican Senator Steve Morris is president of NCSL. Moderate Republican Senator Jay Emler is president of CSG. DeGraaf's motion is about denying them their leadership positions in two prestigious organizations - neither of which depends on corporate sponsorships to pay the legislators' expenses. ALEC was left out because it is aligned with DeGraaf's extremist agenda. He has no problem adding ALEC in because corporate America is willing to pick up the tab if it means they can get more anti-worker legislation written by corporate lobbyists introduced and passed.

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Paul R Getto 1 year, 11 months ago

"DeGraaf said he had no problem including ALEC, adding that he has attended ALEC meetings and his expenses have been paid through "scholarships" and not state funds." === Language is such fun, isn't it? I think he's talking about "bribes" but scholarship sounds better. ALEC is getting a looksee and that is good.

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