July 30, 2012

Utah State Senate President Falsely Claims His Legislature Doesn’t Follow ALEC’s ‘Line’

Utah State Senate President Falsely Claims His Legislature Doesn't Follow ALEC's 'Line'
State Senator Michael Waddoups (R-ALEC)

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a very powerful corporate front group that works with corporations to get bills passed in state legislatures — without the general public ever knowing that these bills are ALEC’s.

It has worked to do everything from pass “Shoot First” laws to suppress votes to give special tax favors to online companies. But the public has started to catch on, and dozens of corporations and organizations have ended their relationships with ALEC in recent months.

ALEC is currently holding a meeting in Utah. Utah State Senate president Michael Waddoups (R) defended the organization’s role in his state, that “You won’t find anything in Utah that is specifically following the line of ALEC.”

But is that true? The folks at the Alliance for Better Utah released a report earlier this year detailing various ALEC bills that have been incorporated into law in the state. Here’s a few examples:

– Banning Living Wages: Despite small-government rhetoric, ALEC worked in Utah to get a bill passed that makes it illegal for cities to pass their own living wage laws. The bill effectively told localities how they can spend their own money.

– Taking Over Federal Lands: ALEC sought to get a whole host of Western states to pass laws demanding that the federal government cede public lands to the states (and many Utah lawmakers want to privatize these lands), in Utah, this bill was passed into law as the Disposal and Taxation of Public Lands Act.

– Battling Health Care Expansion: Utah lawmakers passed a version of ALEC’s Freedom of Choice in Healthcare Act, which worked to pre-empt the expansion of health care access and regulations that were provided under the Affordable Care Act.

Unfortunately, ALEC has an enormous amount of influence in Utah, and  the legislature often does carry its line. Which is dangerous, because ALEC isn’t just some group of conservative thought leaders. Its an organization that literally lets corporations vote on what they think the law should be, then works to get these laws passed.