Protect the people from dangerous copycat bills in legislatures

When Kansas Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook introduced a bill last week to crack down on volunteer health care “navigators,” the Shawnee Republican wasn’t responding to a real issue.

But like a dutiful puppet, she was responding to the political masters who are blanketing states across the nation with mostly conservative legislative obstructions to rational and civil society.

Indeed the Kansas bill is not unlike one introduced in Arizona and other states.

Sound familiar? An earlier Kansas House bill to advance “religious freedom” by allowing gay discrimination among retail vendors in the wedding industry parroted legislation in as many as 18 states. One met a resounding veto in Arizona — a veto issued by a Republican governor no doubt pressured by business interests who, much to their credit, didn’t think such a law was a good idea.

Any opportunity to attack the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion or gay marriage; any opportunity to restrict voters’ rights based on an overblown fear of identity “fraud”; any opportunity to boost the fortunes of a wide-ranging community of major corporations at the expense of consumers and workers — that’s the way the so-called “bill mills” produce “model legislation” for the likes of Pilcher-Cook and her conservative colleagues in Kansas, Missouri and everywhere else.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is one of the best-known operators. It should come as no surprise that two Kansas legislative leaders, House Speaker Ray Merrick and Senate President Susan Wagle, sit on ALEC’s board.