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Utah ALEC Report

Utah ALEC Report

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Published by Eric Ethington

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Published by: Eric Ethington on Jul 25, 2012
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2
Introduction
AnumberofreportshavedetailedhowtheAmericanLegislativeExchangeCouncil(ALEC)exertsinfluenceoverpoliticsandpolicyinstateCapitolsthroughoutthecountry.ThesereportsdocumenthowALEC
madeupofcorporations,conservativefoundationsandstatelegislators
hascreatedmodellegislationthatisexportedtostatesnationwideandintroducedbylawmakersastheirown.Inpartnershipwithits2,000members,ALECboaststhatit“hasover1,000ofthesebillsintroducedbylegislativememberseveryyear,withoneineveryfiveofthemenactedintolaw.”
1
TheworkoftheCenterforMediaDemocracy,PeoplefortheAmericanWay,CommonCause,ProgressNow’sstateaffiliatesandothershaveincreasedawarenessoftheALECagenda,andmorethan50statelegislatorsand25corporationshaveleftALECasaresult.WithUtahhostingALEC’sannualmeeting,therehavebeenassurancesfromUtahlegislatorsthattheyarenota“rubberstamp”forALEC.
2
ThisreportoffersthefirstcomprehensiveaccountingofhowtheALECagendahasbeenpromotedandoftenadoptedinUtah.Bycomparingmodelbillsavailableat
alecexposed.org
andinternaldocumentsreleasedbyCommonCauseinconnectiontoitswhistle-blowerlawsuit
3
withbillsintroducedintheUtahLegislaturesince2001,thisreportsdocumentsthatUtahlegislatorshavemadesubstantialdirectuseofALECmodellegislationandpolicyideas.TheUtahLegislaturehastoooftenactedasapass-throughforALEC,introducingALECmodellanguagewordforwordonatleast17occasions.TherealvettingprocessforthislegislationisatALEC’sclosed-doorconferenceswherecorporationshaveanequalsaywithlegislatorsincraftingmodellegislation.Thisnon-transparentprocessisantitheticaltodemocracy.ThelackoftransparencyregardingALEC’sinvolvementandthepolicyimplicationsofthesebillsaredetrimentaltoourpoliticalprocessandtoooftenresultinpolicythatisharmfultoourcommunities,oureconomyandourenvironment.
LegislativeSummary
EducationPolicy
Ineducationpolicy,directlanguagefromatleastfourALECmodelbillshasbeenintroducedsince2000.Althoughnonebecamelaw,theystillrepresentastepbackfromacommitmenttoequaleducationalopportunitiesforall.
 
TheComprehensiveLegislativePackageOpposingtheCommonCoreStateStandardsInitiativewouldhaverepealedUtah’s2010adoptionoftheCommonCorestandards,deprivingstudentsandteachersalikeofthestate’sparticipationincommon,rigorouseducationstandardsthatimproveachievement.
 
TheFreeEnterpriseEducationActwouldhavedictatedspecificcurriculumtohighschoolteacherstoteachacourseonthe“freeenterprisesystem.”ThiscurriculumissponsoredbytheU.S.ChamberofCommerce.
1
ALECExposed,“ALECFAQ,”CenterforMediaandDemocracyhttp://alecexposed.org/wiki/What_is_ALEC%3F
2
RobertGehrke,“ALECbringingitsclout,agendaandconventiontoUtah,”
SaltLakeTribune
,July14,2012.http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/54485756-90/alec-utah-legislation-group.html.csp?page=3
3
EricR.Havian,etal.,“LettertotheIRSInternalRevenueServiceundertheTaxWhistleblowerAct,Exhibit4
TaskForcematerials,”CommonCause,April20,2012.http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=8072485
 
3
 
TheParentalRightsAmendmentwouldplaceinthestateconstitutionseeminglyharmlesslanguageguaranteeingparents’rightto“directtheupbringingandeducationoftheirchildren.”AformergovernorofColorado,whenthissurfacedthere,calledit“afullemploymentbillforlawyers”thatcould"getinthewayofreasonablechildabuselaws”and“permitcensorshipofmaterialsandprogramsinpubliclibrariesandschools.”
4
 
TheInnovationSchoolsandSchoolDistrictsActwouldallowdistrictstowaiveregulationsthatprotectservicesforspecialeducationandEnglishassecondlanguagestudentsandprovidedueprocessforteachersandstaff.AnotherALECbill,theCareerLadderOpportunityAct,wasjustrepealedinthe2012generalsessionoftheLegislature.Thisisaprogramthatbasedsometeachers’payonstudentperformance.OtherUtaheducationbillsdonotincorporateexactALECmodellanguage,butwouldstillenactpoliciesinkeepingwithALEC’smodels.AmongthesebillsareH.B.123’s(2012)EducationSavingsAccountProgram,H.B.340’sParentalChoiceinEducationProgram,andS.B.151’s(2012)OpportunityScholarshipProgram.Theseprogramsessentiallycreateschoolvouchersorothertaxpayersupportforprivateschools.Thisisapolicythathasnotproventoraisestudentachievementanddivertsresourcesfromtraditionalpublicschools.Utahvotersoverwhelminglyrejectedthisideain2007.
JobsandEconomicPolicy
InUtah,atleast10billsaffectingjobsandeconomicpolicyhavebeenintroducedthatuseALEClanguageeitherinwholeorinsignificantpart.
5
Ofthese,fourbecameandarestilllaw:
6
 
TheVoluntaryContributionsActprohibitsgovernmentemployeesfromcontributingtoaunion’spoliticalfundthroughautomaticpayrolldeduction.Suchconstraintsmakeitharderforworkerstohaveavoiceonbehalfoftheirfamiliesandtohaveasayinimprovingtheservicestheyprovide.
 
TheCouncilonEfficientGovernmentActencouragestheprivatizationofgovernmentservicesto,inpart,“eliminateunfaircompetitionwithaprivateenterprise.”Webelievethisprocesshasbeenafailurefortaxpayers.Forexample,in2010,Utah’sPrivatizationPolicyBoardrejecteditsowncommissionedstudythatdidnotrecommendhospitalprivatization.
7
AdditionalprinciplesembodiedinALEC’sGovernmentServicesCompetitionActhavebeenperiodicallyintroducedinlegislation—mostrecentlyinH.B.94inthe2012generalsession—thatwouldfurtherempowertheUtahPrivatizationPolicyBoardtofavorprivateinterestsoverthepublicgood.
4
PeoplefortheAmericanWayFoundation,“ParentalRights:TheTrojanHorseoftheReligiousRightAttackonPublicEducation,”http://www.pfaw.org/media-center/publications/parental-rights#parental
5
TheseALECbillsaretheVoluntaryContributionsAct,theCouncilonEfficientGovernmentAct,theCivilRightsAct,theLivingWageMandatePreemptionAct,theInterstateInsuranceProductRegulationCompactResolution/NAICInterstateInsuranceProductRegulationCompactModelAct,theUnionFinancialResponsibilityAct,theResolutioninOppositiontotheREALIDAct,theResolutionCallingfortheCongressoftheUnitedStatestoCallaConstitutionalConventionPursuanttoArticleVoftheUnitedStatesConstitutiontoProposeaConstitutionalAmendmentPermittingRepealofanyFederalLaworRegulationbyVoteofTwo-ThirdsoftheStateLegislature,andtheNoneconomicDamageAwardsAct.
6
ThefourbillsaretheVoluntaryContributionsAct,theCouncilonEfficientGovernmentAct,theLivingWageMandatePreemptionAct,andtheInterstateInsuranceProductRegulationCompactResolution/NAICInterstateInsuranceProductRegulationCompactModelAct.
7
RandySimmons,etal.,“PrivatizationPolicyBoard2010AnnualReport,”PrivatizationPolicyBoard,Nov.15,2011.http://www.upea.net/documents/PPBoard_Letter.pdf

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