ALEC quits gun policy, lefties want moreby Dara Kam | April 18th, 2012
It isn’t enough that the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, has backed down from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law after spreading it around the country, some left-leaning groups say.
Now they want lawmakers to quit the group as well. Progress Florida has launched a statewide campaign urging its supporters to tell legislators to “disavow the group’s extremist and secretive influence on Florida law making.” Other national groups are urging state lawmakers and more businesses to do the same.
ALEC – the business-backed organization that provides prepackaged bills for lawmakers, many of which have been used by the GOP-dominated Florida legislature – yesterday announced it was discontinuing its “Public Safety” and “Elections” task forces that promoted controversial measures including “Stand Your Ground” and voter ID laws that critics say make it harder for minorities to cast their ballots.
The move came after at least 10 corporations refused to renew their memberships in ALEC, a decades-old organization relatively unknown until the Trayvon Martin shooting thrust ALEC into the national spotlight.
Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman claimed he shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense. Florida’s first-in-the-nation, 2005 law allows people to use deadly force when they feel threatened. ALEC pushed Florida’s NRA-backed bill, and about two dozen states have adopted similar laws.
Progress Florida as well as national groups, including Common Cause, complain that the corporations behind ALEC are crafting the model bills then sponsored by state lawmakers.
For example, state Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, earlier this year sponsored a memorial urging Congress to cut the federal corporate tax rate.
But the proposal’s first “whereas” clause mistakenly revealed the source of the bill language.
“WHEREAS, it is the mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty,” Burgin’s memorial reads.
“ALEC represents what is essentially an unelected, shadow Legislature in Florida,” Progress Florida executive director Mark Ferrulo said.
It’s no surprise that progressive groups are using ALEC’s 15 minutes of fame to attack the conservative organization. The group has pushed union-busting bills, tort and education reforms and other pro-business measures that liberals despise.
But it’s questionable how much sway the lefties will have with GOP lawmakers. As of yesterday, ALEC’s Florida state chairman Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, said has no intention of walking away.
“The membership probably is catching some emails on this,” Patronis said.
But, he added, “I don’t think any ALEC members have resigned their membership to ALEC based on this retaliatory effort.”