Monday, September 16, 2019
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After Opponent Raises Issue, Fairfax County Board (Hunter Mill District) Candidate...

In Fairfax County's Hunter Mill District, long-time supervisor Cathy Hudgins is retiring, and five Democrats -  Parker Messick, Shyamali Hauth, Laurie Dodd, Walter Alcorn and Maggie Parker...

Dominion Remains in Extremist ALEC as ExxonMobil Joins “exodus of firms...

How horrible is Dominion Energy? Here are a few recent news items that basically answer the question, but you can decide for yourself. Enjoy! First...

Just a Few Reasons Why I Say Good Riddance to Bill...

Valerie Garner of the Roanoke Free Press actually broke the news two weeks ago that Virginia House Speaker Bill "ALEC" Howell would be stepping...

What Virginia Speaker Bill “ALEC” Howell Leaves Out of His Statement...

See anything missing here from ALEC Board member and Virginia House Speaker Bill "Legalized Corruption" Howell? The strength of the American legal system is measured...

New Report Finds that ALEC, Dominion, Other “Corporate Polluters Undermining Clean...

I just got off a conference call with Center for Media and Democracy Executive Director Lisa Graves, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Chair Seth Heald,...

More Reasons Not to NC Virginia: You’ve Still Got Time to...

Virginians are at least one or two steps ahead of us North Carolinians. OK, maybe more. We are in no position to make suggestions, I know. But Virginia has a unique chance to at least hold one house in the GA, to "get it left," so to speak. As I explained in a recent diary, Virginia has a Democratic governor, who compared to those I will mention in a moment, causes many Dems across the country to have "governor envy."

Governors from many GOP-held states occupy a "Governor's Hall of Shame." Abbott of Texas, Brownback of Kansas, Walker of Wisconsin, Snyder of Michigan, Scott of Florida, and McCrory of North Carolina are bringing their states down. There are others, of course. Though they lie about their negative "accomplishments," they are not fooling many.

Their legislatures are even worse. Some are actively trying to tie the hands of their state governments for all time, with the oxymoronically named Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). This clone of the awful Colorado ALEC-driven TABOR is eyed by NC legislative destructos and winding its way into discussions. Such an amendment would cement austerity and relegate public schools, roads and other good things states once did to history. The Tea Party owned GAs package it as a "bill of rights," specifying in part that taxpayers must be treated with respect. It's about so much more than that. But low-information voters won't get it until their public schools shutter.  

Virginia: Be Forewarned How Quickly and Severely a State Can Go...

I didn't move to North Carolina for its politics. But I must confess it was one of the things that buoyed me as I prepared to leave Virginia after 30 years to be nearer to family. Despite the recent win of the GOP in the General Assembly (GA), North Carolina was still a progressive state.  And we had a Democratic governor. A little over a year ago, it was unthinkable that NC would surrender its entire progressive list of 20th and 21st century accomplishments. But thanks to an extreme Texas-style gerrymander, which suppressed the representation of Democrats, what the majority in North Carolina want no longer matters. The Tea Party took over in 2008 and grabbed even more seats in 2012. And so the North Carolina GA began to march in lock step with states like Wisconsin and Texas.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina legislature acts daily at the behest of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) bill mill. Though ALEC-driven look-alike legislation has appeared in numerous states, NC is a new experiment on how quickly and extremely the GA can force a Koch-friendly Tea Party state. How hard can it be with Koch buddy and fellow Americans for Prosperity funder, Art Pope, sitting as the state's budget director? Pope and the network of state and national PACs and non-profits was the biggest factor in the GOP win.  And now there he sits, pulling the budgetary strings.

There's much more below the fold...

My Week at ALEC Pt 3: The Progressive Pushback

With all the hubbub and activity at the Grand American hotel in Salt Lake City last week, you'd be forgiven for thinking ALEC would have had the Utah stage to themselves. Well, not quite. Even conservative Utah has some issues with ALEC's corporate agenda. Alliance for a Better Utah, the Utah version of ProgressVA, coordinated a great week of education and action around the ALEC conference and we were only too happy to take part.

Together with great partners like the Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, People for the American Way, Color of Change and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, progressives presented a series of TED-type talks to a crowd of over 150 at a storefront down the street from ALEC's swanky hotel (video should be coming soon). Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause, spoke about the IRS whistle-blower complaint they've filed against ALEC for claiming on tax returns that they engage in zero lobbying (thousands of pages of internal documents would indicate otherwise). Lori Haas and Josh Horwitz from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence spoke about ALEC's anti-public safety agenda, that includes model legislation opposing assault weapons bans and taking away colleges and universities' ability to control what weapons come onto their campuses.

We also heard from Wisconsin state representative Mark Pocan, who is a member of ALEC. In fact, Pocan has been a member of ALEC for many years, getting the inside scoop on their agenda and model bills. He has a great recap of his experience this year up at The Progressive, where he describes ALEC as "a dating service for those ugly corporations and the legislative objects of their affection, with a strong bent to the social right-wing elements of the conservative movement."

I summed up the workshops and press conference with an overview of what ALEC looks like on the grounds in the states. In short, it's large network that's promoting corporate interests at the expense of consumers and citizens. The good news is that their network is weakening every day. Thirty corporations have now dropped out of ALEC, including Walgreens and GM, who announced they were pulling out in the middle of the conference. Another 56 state legislators have quit. Now's not the time to let up on the pressure, which means you need to educate yourself, educate your neighbor, and get involved.

My Week at ALEC Part 2: Their Agenda

The week before ALEC's annual conference, ProgressVA and Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws requested meetings with the Virginia legislators attending the conference to learn about the discussions happening behind closed doors and what legislation might be coming back to Virginia. Unsurprisingly, we didn't get a very positive response. In fact, no one agreed. So Lori Haas from VRGL and I did a little reconnaissance to find out what was going on behind those closed doors.

Can Tobacco Cure Smoking_-1.jpgWhile ALEC may have dissolved the controversial Public Safety and Elections Task Force earlier this year, in response to outrage over Stand Your Ground and Voter ID, former Task Force Chair the National Rifle Association is just as involved as ever. The NRA's booth was the largest and most prominent in the exhibit hall and Chuck Cunningham, the NRA's Political Director, was schmoozing it up with legislators. Saturday afternoon the NRA even hosted a trap shoot for legislators and lobbyists to wine, dine, and relax together.

Perhaps the most absurd item on ALEC's agenda last week was a seminar entitled "Can Tobacco Cure Smoking?" The seminar was led by Dr. Brad Rodu, whose chair at the University of Louisville is primarily funded by US Smokeless Tobacco, a prominent ALEC member.

My Week at ALEC, Part 1: Lobbyists, Golf and Gifts, Oh...

Grand America.jpgOpulent chandeliers. A 5 Diamond resort. And corporate lobbyists everywhere. The legislators attending the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual conference in Salt Lake City sure weren't roughing it.

The annual ALEC conference last week at the Grand America Resort in Salt Lake City Utah featured legislators and corporate lobbyists coming together behind closed doors to craft and vote on model legislation to them be introduced in state houses across the country, like Virginia, with no disclosure of from whence it came. The corporate largesse was evident early, with scattered signs thanking (Koch-brothers funded) Americans for Prosperity and the American Insurance Association for providing snacks at the bar. ALEC definitely doesn't miss an opportunity to squeeze corporate sponsors for money. (Picture after the jump)