ALEC’s Corporate Army

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporately-funded group, consisting of conservative state lawmakers and company lobbyists, that composes model bills to disperse to its hundreds of corporate members. This corporate “bill mill” provides model bills to companies as tentative outlines that the companies can amend in order to fit their own interests in a certain state.

There are about 2,000 legislative members and over 300 corporate members in ALEC. ALEC generates extravagant amounts of money from corporate membership fees. Companies pay anywhere from $7,000 to $25,000 annually with additional fees from $2,500 to $10,000 should they want a seat on a legislative task force. The task forces are deliberative groups that organize the model bills’ drafting.

Political influence that’s been facilitated by corporate spending has allowed hundreds of ALEC-created bills to be introduced and passed through the country’s state legislatures. The bills serve corporate interests as they tend to undermine workers’ rights, circumvent environmental protection laws, limit patent rights for pharmaceutical companies, and encourage for-profit educational systems. The people and the environment always end up the losers as a result of these ALEC model bills.

Recent legislative efforts involving ALEC are two fracking chemical disclosure bills that are making their way through the Florida state legislature. One of the bills, the Fracturing Chemical Usage Act (HB 71), will require fracking companies that wish to drill in the state to disclose the chemicals used in the drilling process. However, HB 71 comes with a companion bill. The Public Record/Fracturing Chemical Usag Disclosure Act (HB 157) essentially nullifies HB 71 as it lists fracking chemicals as trade secrets exempted from public disclosure.