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ALEC

Internal to the Medicare for All Teams and other single-payer activists.
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Position at the monitor.

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
encourages the legal blocking of state-based single-payer
by providing the enabling proposed legislation.



Monitor of States That Are Blocking
State-Based Single-Payer by Law
with help from ALEC

States that established the Act (below)
as law
(statute) in their state:

Last updated 7/16/2011:

Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana
Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia

States that established the Act (below)
as a constitutional amendment
in their state:

Last updated 7/16/2011:

Arizona: Proposition 106: 68% approval on 11/2/2010
Oklahoma: Question 756: 55% approval on 11/2/2010



About ALEC

ALEC is very heavily sponsored by corporations, who collectively pay as much as $6 milliion per year to fund the organization, which writes "model legislation" for state legislators to consider and which often becomes state legislation, largely word-for-word. About 2,000 state legislators belong to ALEC, pay a very small membership fee, and are invited to bring their families to the conferences that are held each year in nice locations with nice food and activities. More background about ALEC is in Additional Information within this web page.

 


 

From ALEC about ALEC's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act
— paragraphs copied on 15 July 2011 from an ALEC web page
 

ALEC's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act — modeled on the language of Arizona Proposition 101 (2008) and Arizona Proposition 106 (2010) — protects the rights of patients to pay directly for medical services, and it prohibits penalties levied on patients for failing to purchase health insurance. [Comment: The right to pay or not pay within a state.]

In the 2010 session, 42 states either introduced or announced ALEC’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act. Eight states (Virginia, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee) passed the ALEC model as a statute, and two states (Arizona and Oklahoma) passed the ALEC model as a constitutional amendment. An active citizen initiative is also underway in Mississippi.

ALEC’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, if passed by statute, can provide a state-level defense against ObamaCare’s excessive federal power. Particularly, the measure can provide standing to a state participating in current litigation against the federal individual mandate; allow a state to launch additional, 10th-Amendment-based litigation if the current lawsuits fail; and empower a state attorney general to litigate on behalf of individuals harmed by the mandate once it goes into effect in 2014.

If enacted as a constitutional amendment, ALEC’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act will not only help defend against the federal individual mandate as indicated above, but it will also prohibit a Canadian-style, single-payer system, which legislators in some states have been advocating even before ObamaCare. And if ObamaCare is repealed, it will also prevent a state-level requirement to purchase health insurance [Again, the right to pay or not pay.]

Bolding was added.

How ALEC blocks-single-payer

Ballot proposal Proposition 106 in Arizona which voters approved in November 2010 with 68% approval.

PROHIBITS LAWS OR RULES THAT REQUIRE PARTICIPATION IN ANY HEALTH CARE SYSTEM;
ALLOWS A PERSON, EMPLOYER OR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER TO FORGO HEALTH INSURANCE AND PAY OR RECEIVE PAYMENT FOR HEALTH CARE DIRECTLY WITHOUT A PENALTY;
SPECIFICALLY ALLOWS THE PURCHASE AND SALE OF HEALTH INSURANCE IN PRIVATE HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS.

(Bolding was added.)


 

Additional Information about ALEC

Fri Oct 29, (2010) 1:20 pm ET

7 striking revelations from NPR’s investigation into how companies influence lawmakers

by Liz Goodman at Upshot

The private prison industry helped write Arizona's anti-illegal-immigration bill in a closed-door session in a hotel conference room, and then donated to 30 of the bill's co-sponsors after the bill passed, NPR revealed in a blockbuster story yesterday.

Now, NPR has a second story out explaining how the nonprofit American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) brings together corporations and legislators who collaborate to design "model bills" out of the sight of taxpayers and voters. These conferences are not considered lobbying (see below), so much of what goes on remains opaque to outsiders.

Legislators pay $50 a year to join ALEC, and are then treated to conferences with the group's corporate members, who collectively shell out $6 million per year for the privilege. In addition to the private prison company the Corrections Corporation of America, tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. are among the group's members.

Here's our round-up of the seven most striking revelations from the story, which you should read in full:

1. Just over the past year, more than 200 of the organization's "model" bills — drafted by corporations with the lawmakers — became law around the country.

2. Because member organizations don't actively advocate for policies, ALEC's conferences — where these bills are created — are not considered lobbying. That means companies don't have to disclose which lawmakers they're talking to or how much they're spending at these conferences.

3. It also means that ALEC gets to keep its nonprofit status. Corporations can write off the donations they give ALEC as charitable gifts, and ALEC does not have to disclose its membership, donors, or how it spends its money.

4. Lawmakers are told to bring their families and are treated to golf tournaments and parties at these conferences. Corporations sponsor open bars and baseball games, which lawmakers do not have to disclose as gifts.

5. There are an unnamed amount of "scholarships" that ALEC gives out so that politicians do not even have to pay their own travel expenses to get to the conferences. Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce, the sponsor of anti-illegal-immigration law SB1070, traveled to the conference on such a scholarship.

6. Five of the politicians pushing for laws nearly identical to Arizona's in other states were in the same hotel conference room with the Corrections Corporation of America in which SB1070 was crafted.

7. ALEC's director of policy, Michael Bowman, says lawmakers come to the conference to learn about legislation, not to be pressured or influenced. "They're just trying to learn a policy and understand it," he said. Lobbying is defined in most states as convincing politicians to make or pass laws. Bowman says at ALEC, politicians are just trying to "find" good laws, and thus it is not lobbying.

(Photo of Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce: AP)

 



Excerpts from the full NPR story (report) by Laura Sullivan; October 29, 2010
You can listen or read the report by selecting the link.

When you walk into the offices of the American Legislative Exchange Council, it's hard to imagine it is the birthplace of a thousand pieces of legislation introduced in statehouses across the county.

Only 28 people work in ALEC's dark, quiet headquarters in Washington, D.C.  And Michael Bowman, senior director of policy, explains that the little-known organization's staff is not the ones writing the bills. The real authors are the group's members — a mix of state legislators and some of the biggest corporations in the country. ...

... Here's how it works: ALEC is a membership organization. State legislators pay $50 a year to belong. Private corporations can join, too. The tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and drug-maker Pfizer Inc. are among the members. They pay tens of thousands of dollars a year. Tax records show that corporations collectively pay as much as $6 million a year.  (bolding added)

With that money, the 28 people in the ALEC offices throw three annual conferences. The companies get to sit around a table and write "model bills" with the state legislators, who then take them home to their states.

Lobbying Or Education?

One of those bills is now Arizona's controversial new immigration law. It requires police to arrest anyone who cannot prove they entered the country legally when asked. Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants could be locked up, and private prison companies stand to make millions.

The largest prison company in the country, the Corrections Corporation of America, was present when the model immigration legislation was drafted at an ALEC conference last year.

ALEC's Bowman says that is not unusual; more than 200 of the organization's model bills became actual laws over the past year. But he hedges when asked if that means the unofficial drafting process is an effective way to accelerate the legislative process.

"It's not an effective way to get a bill passed," he says. "It's an effective way to find good legislation."

The difference between passing bills and "finding" them is lobbying. Most states define lobbying as pushing legislators to create or pass legislation. And that comes with rules. Companies typically have to disclose to the public what they are lobbying for, who's lobbying for them or how much they are spending on it.

If ALEC's conferences were interpreted as lobbying, the group could lose its status as a non-profit. Corporations wouldn't be able to reap tax benefits from giving donations to the organization or write off those donations as a business expense. And legislators would have a hard time justifying attending a conference of lobbyists.

Bowman says what his group does is educate lawmakers.

"ALEC allows a place for everyone at the table to come and debate and discuss," he says. "You have legislators who will ask questions much more freely at our meetings because they are not under the eyes of the press, the eyes of the voters. They're just trying to learn a policy and understand it."

Much about ALEC is private. It does not disclose how it spends it money or who gives it to them. ALEC rarely grants interviews. Bowman won't even say which legislators are members.

Is it lobbying when private corporations pay money to sit in a room with state lawmakers to draft legislation that they then introduce back home? Bowman, a former lobbyist, says, "No, because we're not advocating any positions. We don't tell members to take these bills. We just expose best practices. All we're really doing is developing policies that are in model bill form."

So, for example, last December Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce sat in a hotel conference room with representatives from the Corrections Corporation of America and several dozen others. The group voted on model legislation that was introduced into the Arizona legislature two months later, almost word for word.

Bowman says that type of meeting is an informational exchange, meant to help legislators understand policy.

But first ALEC has to get legislators to the conferences. The organization encourages state lawmakers to bring their families. Corporations sponsor golf tournaments on the side and throw parties at night, according to interviews and records obtained by NPR.

Bowman says that's nothing special: "We have breakfasts and lunch. They're at Marriotts and Hyatts. They're normal chicken dinner. Maybe sometimes they get steaks. Yeah, we feed the people. We think that it's OK to eat at a conference."

Videos and photos from one recent ALEC conference show banquets, open bar parties and baseball games — all hosted by corporations. Tax records show the group spent $138,000 to keep legislators' children entertained for the week.

But the legislators don't have to declare these as corporate gifts.

Consider this: If a corporation hosts a party or baseball game and legislators attend, most states require the lawmakers to say where they went and who paid. In this case though, legislators can just say they went to ALEC's conference. They don't have to declare which corporations sponsored these events.

'Scholarships' For Conferences

Kirk Adams, Arizona's House speaker, went to ALEC's most recent gathering in San Diego.

"I have been to ALEC's conferences and they have been pretty educational — the ones that I've been to," he says, adding that the time he spends with corporate executives does not influence his opinions on the issues.

"If we were to believe that a dinner with a lobbyist would purchase a member's allegiance to an issue, then we have much larger problems than that," Adams says. "It's just simply not been my experience at all."

When asked if he paid his own way to the ALEC conference, Adams acknowledges he accepted money from the group to help pay for the trip. ALEC calls this a "scholarship."

Many ALEC members receive these scholarships. But it's not clear who's really paying. ...

... A review of the two dozen states now considering Arizona's immigration law shows many of those pushing similar legislation across the country are ALEC members.

In fact, five of those legislators were in the hotel conference room with the Corrections Corporation of America the day the model bill was written.

The prison company didn't have to file a lobbying report or disclose any gifts to legislators. They don't even have to tell anyone they were there. All they have to do is pay their ALEC dues and show up.

Source:  NPR.

 


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