Media reports focus on ALEC, corporate ties

In recent days, the American Legislative Exchange Council has been the focus of numerous media reports for pushing corporate interests in Legislatures across the nation, including Kansas.

The corporate-funded group gathers conservative legislators for meetings to put together “model legislation” that they then carry back to their respective states.

The Kansas Legislature has worked on several ALEC-inspired bills, including a resolution criticizing the EPA for greenhouse gas regulations, calling the regulations “EPA’s regulatory train wreck.” ALEC also advocates for the repeal of federal health reform and for consideration of replacing current public employee pension systems with 401 (k)-type plans, both issues that have gained traction in the Kansas Legislature. The group argues against tax increases and for lower government spending.

ALEC has also released a report called “Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffler State Economic Competitiveness Index.” The most recent fourth edition has a forward written by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Each year, a group of Kansas legislators goes to ALEC meetings. State Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, served as the group’s national chair in 2006, and currently serves on its board of directors. State Sen. Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, also serves on the group’s board and in 2010 was named by ALEC legislator of the year.

Last year, Kansas taxpayers spent $9,132 to send 13 House members and 4 state senators to ALEC’s annual meeting in Atlanta, according to state records. A group of state legislators is preparing to go to ALEC’s next annual meeting, which will be held next month in New Orleans.

Here’s one story about the recent ALEC findings from the Los Angeles Times.