What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 3, 2011

ALEC In The News!

From today's Post-Gazette:
An analysis released Tuesday from Keystone Progress points to four Pennsylvania measures that they say are nearly identical to model legislation peddled by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

The right-leaning association of state legislators has drawn national attention recently for reports that its model bills are being duplicated in statehouses across the country, and it has been criticized for the influence industry representatives are said to have in the drafting of that model legislation. It has also taken flack for its annual conferences, which lawmakers can attend free of charge and learn about model policies.

While several state lawmakers -- including Cranberry Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe -- have attended those conferences and reported the expense-paid trip on their ethics forms, it was the mirror-image legislation that drew much of the criticism from liberal detractors.
You can download the report and read it for yourself from here.

In the report, they've identified some ALEC legislators from PA:
  • GOP House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (whose participation in ALEC is paid by state taxpayers)
  • GOP House Majority Caucus Chair Sandra Major
  • GOP House Caucus Administrator Dick Stevenson
  • GOP House Judiciary Chair Ronald Marsico
  • GOP House State Government Chair Daryl Metcalfe
  • GOP Senate Majority Caucus Secretary Robert Robbins
  • GOP Senate Judiciary Chair Stewart Greenleaf
  • And GOP Chairs of numerous committees, including Representatives Matthew Baker (Health), Stephen Barrar (Veterans Affairs), Paul Clymer (Educational), John Evans (Game & Fisheries), Robert Godshall (Consumer Affairs), Kate Harper (Ethics), Dick Hess (Commerce), Ronald Miller (Labor & Industry) and Senators Charles McIlhinney (State Government), Jeffrey Piccola (Education), John Pippy (Law & Justice)
  • The only identified Democratic PA member of ALEC is Rep. Harry Readshaw, Minority Chair of Professional Licensure.
  • Rep. John Evans (R- Crawford, Erie) currently serves as ALEC’s PA chair
Good to see our boy Daryl Metcalfe isn't alone.

There's some pushback in the piece:
"There's some who are trying to portray it as corporations trying to take over legislation -- that's not it," [Rep. Seth Grove, a York County Republican] said. He added that he also looks for policy ideas from the moderate National Conference of State Legislatures.
However, it's unclear whether all of those lawmakers have maintained their involvement with the organization. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, said the lawmaker is no longer involved with ALEC.
However from Salon.com we learn:
Republican Majority Leader Michael Turzai has also had membership dues paid for by the state, something that Turzai's spokesman, Steve Mishkin, defended.

"It’s always good to hear from the experience of other legislatures," he said. "That’s how you exchange ideas, best practices, and try to bring those to Pennsylvania’s problem."

Mishkin likened ALEC to the [National Conference of State Legislatures.], but the NCSL doesn't develop and promote model legislation with corporate input and is open to legislators regardless of their ideology. ALEC, by contrast, boasts that its conference "has been described as the 'largest gathering of conservatives held each year.'"
So Turzai's spokesman defended having his ALEC membership dues paid for by the state?

I think someone's trying to pull a fast one, Mr. Mishkin.

Let's assume both statements are correct - that Turzai had been a member of ALEC (with dues paid for by the PA taxpayers) but he's no longer a member. If that's the case, then I have some questions:
  • When did the taxpayer support end?
  • How long was he a member of ALEC?
  • Why did he join?
  • Why did he quit?
Maybe next time Turzai's on Night Talk, someone will call in and ask him.

But somehow I don't think this story will end up on the pages of the Tribune-Review. Why not? From the report:
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. [
Something we touched upon in mid-June.

Good to know the P-G is catching up.

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