Who are the ‘smart-ALECs’ in the Nevada Legislature? Marc Morial, head of the National Urban League sums up the problem with the ultra-conservative organization which promotes ‘model legislation’ for the consideration of state legislatures:
It is bad enough that since its founding in 1981, ALEC has been the shadow author of numerous pieces of legislation aimed at boosting corporate power and profits, reducing worker rights, weakening environmental protections, and restricting voter rights. Now, the organization is actively supporting a law which is moving this country back to the lawless days of the Wild West when it was common practice to “Shoot First and Ask Questions Later.” That is not the kind of America we or our children deserve in the 21st century. [NUL]
What does ALEC want, and who in the Nevada legislature might be willing to introduce and support their legislation?
What’s on the ALEC agenda?
1. Bills to privatize public lands, and promote the interests of exploiters and polluters. In 1995 ALEC supported the Sagebrush Rebellion Act, drafting model legislation to transfer ownership of unappropriated lands from the federal government to the states. There is serious doubt that any of the bills introduced in western states, and passed in Utah, will withstand judicial scrutiny, but that doesn’t matter to the exploiters and polluters who want to bypass federal environmental rules. [RSN] ALEC also sponsored a 1995 resolution encouraging rolling back the Endangered Species Act.
In case the federal government doesn’t get the message by 2013, ALEC has a draft resolution ready for members of state legislatures to introduce severely limiting the designation of national monuments, unless there is unanimous agreement from all parties.
2. Promote the interests of corporations, and corporate profitability.
“ALEC works fervently to promote laws that would shield corporations from legal action and allow them to limit the rights of workers. The group’s model legislation would roll back laws regarding corporate accountability, workers compensation and on the job protections, collective bargaining and organizing rights, prevailing wage and the minimum wage. ALEC is a main proponent of bills that undermine organized labor by stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights and “right to work” laws.They also push “regulatory flexibility” laws that lead to massive deregulation. It is no surprise that the director of ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force previously worked as a Koch Associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.” [PFAW]
It’s no secret from whence came all the anti-labor legislation in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Nor is it any dark secret about the source of model prevailing wage, or anti-collective bargaining legislation. “In 2011, Republican governors and GOP-dominated legislatures introduced more than 500 anti-labor bills, many carbon copies of ALEC model legislation, all of them inspired by the group’s work. These proposals restricted collective bargaining, limited project labor agreements and shredded living wage laws and other labor standards.” [IAFF] 2013 will, no doubt, not be any different.
There was a bit of leftover legislation, S.B. 41 which would have eliminated collective bargaining for local government employees, which by April 16, 2011 was a dead letter issue. However, this wasn’t the only anti-union bill introduced in the last legislative session. S.B. 342 removed all supervisors from bargaining units, and removed recognition from the scope of mandatory bargaining. The bill also made dues deductions optional. S.B. 342 was sponsored by State Senators Roberson, Cegavske, Brower, Gustavson, Halseth, Kieckhefer, and Settelmeyer. State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-8) proudly lists her affiliation with ALEC, since 1997, in her official bio.
There is confirmation in public sources of ALEC membership for Dean Rhoads, Greg Brower, Ben Kieckhefer, and Barbara Cegavske, current members of the Nevada Legislature. [DB]
Senator Gustavson introduced S.B. 162, which prohibited school districts and teachers from negotiating transfers and reassignments. AB 555 was introduced on behalf of the governor on March 28, 2011, and included among other provisions a statement legislating one year contracts for all public school teachers. ALEC has model legislation for these topics too. Someone forgot to note that in Nevada all teachers already have one year contracts?
However, nothing says ‘promotion of corporate interests’ quite like legislation to repeal the minimum wage, and Senator Joe Hardy (R-12) obligingly introduced S.J.R. 4 in the Nevada legislature to do precisely that. Not surprisingly, ALEC has a model for this legislation as well.
3. Bills to restrict voting rights and promote corporate influence. There has been a deluge of anti-voting rights bills in recent state legislatures, and they are directly related to ALEC activity:
“ALEC is directly tied to the emerging trend among state legislatures to consider voter ID laws. Using false allegations of “voter fraud,” right-wing politicians are pursuing policies that disenfranchise students and other at-risk voters,–including the elderly and the poor–who are unlikely to have drivers’ licenses or other forms of photo ID. By suppressing the vote of such groups, ALEC’s model “Voter ID Act” grants an electoral advantage to Republicans while undermining the right to vote. In addition, ALEC wants to make it easier for corporations to participate in the political process. Their Public Safety and Elections taskforce is co-chaired by Sean Parnell of the Center for Competitive Politics, one of the most vociferous pro-corporate election groups, and promotes model legislation that would devastate campaign finance reform and allow for greater corporate influence in elections.” [PFAW]
Enacting burdensome regulations regarding voter identification and access to the polls has been a hallmark of ALEC model legislation. Thirty three state legislatures considered such legislation in 2011 alone. Wisconsin, Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina and Tennessee have passed such bills. [Nation]
Compare this piece of model legislation in regard to voter identification from ALEC to the inclusions of A.B. 327 in the 2011 Nevada Legislature. The legislation was introduced by Assemblyman John Hambrick (R-Dist.2). Assemblyman Hambrick does not list ALEC as one of his affiliations, but his sponsorship of A.B. 327 certainly places him firmly in the category of those doing ALEC’s bidding. A.B. 327 wasn’t the only piece of legislation in the 76th Session which sought to suppress voting, Assemblymen Lynn D. Stewart (R-22) and Melissa Woodbury (R-23) sponsored A.B. 425, which would have required specific forms of voter identification. Again, while their official bio’s do not reference membership in ALEC, they were more than willing to support ALEC’s voter suppression agenda.
The assault on voting rights didn’t stop with Hambrick, Stewart, and Woodbury, because Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-32 ) sponsored his own vote identification legislation, A.B. 431. Assemblyman Cresent Hardy (R-20) placed yet another voter ID bill in the hopper, A.B. 434. For those keeping score, no less than four members of the 76th Session of the Nevada legislature were ready and more than willing to place their imprimatur on bills to suppress the vote in Nevada elections, as per the ALEC agenda.
4. Bills to restrict the application or implementation of federal statutes in the states and territories. This is the realm of the 10th Amendment campaign, launched by ALEC in 1995. There is, once more, a handy bit of model legislation from ALEC to be used to draft a “10th Amendment” resolution by a state legislature. We should not be surprised then that AJR 4, introduced in the 76th Nevada legislative session sounds almost exactly like the ALEC model. The sponsors of AJR 4 were Assembly representatives Goedhart, Goicoechea, Hansen, Grady, Hambrick, Hammond, Hardy, Kirner, Kite, Livermore, Stewart, Woodbury, and Halseth.
5. Bills to promote the NRA’s campaign to remove restrictions on firearms. Perhaps the most topical item on ALEC’s agenda is the organization’s promotion of the NRA agenda on guns. Senator Gustavson’s S.B. 176 would have removed any restrictions on concealed firearms, and section 2 of A.B. 231 would have accomplished the same end. A.B. 231 was sponsored by Assembly members Goedhart, Hardy, Ellison, Goicoechea, Grady, Hambrick, Hickey, Kirner, Kite, Sherwood, and Stewart, along with Senators Gustavson, McGinness, and Rhoads.
While not the blanket permission sought in ALEC/NRA “carry on campus” [MMA] model legislation, S.B. 231 would have allowed guns on campuses with approval. At the risk of repetition, the bill was sponsored by Assembly members Goedhart, Hardy, Ellison, Goicoechea, Grady, Hambrick, Hickey, Kirner, Kite, Sherwood, and Stewart.
Even more to the contemporary point, NRS 200.120 was amended in 2011 to incorporate a “stand your ground provision” as sought by ALEC and the NRA. Assembly Bill 231 (NRS 200.120) is summarized as follows:
“Under existing case law, there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force if the person using deadly force is not the original aggressor and reasonably believes that he or she is about to be killed or seriously injured. (Culverson v. State, 106 Nev. 484 (1990)) This bill provides that under the defense of justifiable homicide there is no duty to retreat if the person using deadly force: (1) is not the original aggressor; (2) has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used; and (3) is not actively engaged in conduct in furtherance of criminal activity at the time deadly force is used. [NVLeg]
Now, find the names in the list of sponsors of A.B. 231 we’ve seen before: Assemblymen Oceguera, Anderson, Kirkpatrick, Atkinson, Hambrick; Aizley, Benitez-Thompson, Bobzien, Bustamante Adams, Carrillo, Conklin, Daly, Diaz, Dondero Loop, Ellison, Flores, Frierson, Goedhart, Goicoechea, Grady, Hammond, Hansen, Hardy, Hickey, Hogan, Horne, Kirner, Kite, Livermore, McArthur, Munford, Neal, Ohrenschall, Segerblom, Sherwood, Smith, Stewart and Woodbury.”
If past practice is any guide at all, the members of ALEC in the Nevada Legislature in 2013, and those who are not ALEC members but who promote ALEC’s corporate sponsored agenda, will be relying yet again on the “model legislation” offered by those corporations which feel they should be subject to less oversight and regulation, lower taxes, and more influence in our elections.
The health of a representative democracy requires citizen participation. What ALEC and its allies are offering are auctions instead of elections, and corporatism and financialism instead of free market capitalism. This perspective is all the more reason for citizens to be vigilant in regard to who is promoting what legislation in our state legislatures — and Nevada is no exception.