As the nation anticipates the upcoming presidential election and future direction, a private "legislative" organization is gaining more control over the American democratic experiment.
The force behind this movement is the American Legislative Exchange Council, otherwise known as ALEC.
ALEC, for those who are unaware, is an organization of private sector (mostly corporate) leaders and state and federal (mostly Republican) legislators. Their stated purpose is innocent enough: "to promote free markets, limited government and constitutional division of powers between the federal and state governments.”
These goals are advanced through private gatherings where legislators are wined and dined at exclusive, luxurious locations by the private sector leaders. There, “model legislation” is written which the legislators then carry back to their respective states to be introduced as their own proposed bills, amendments and resolutions.
Much of the legislation which pops up in states around the country is written in similar language and usually promotes the privatization of everything from education to prisons, areas where private corporations might profit at governmental expense.
ALEC is designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, and as such, it is neither liable for taxes nor does it come under scrutiny as a political lobbying organization.
Under our system of government, the legislative branch is commissioned with representing the people of their district or their state. The legislature, at both the federal and state level, is the voice of “the people.” The executive branch administers the “peoples” resolve, while the judiciary attempts to insure the resolve of the people plays itself out constitutionally.
When legislators represent ALEC initiatives, rather than their constituencies, the constitutional framework of the nation and the states becomes corrupted and leads to a decay of our representative form of government.
In the State of Iowa, Rep. Linda Miller and Sen. Bill Dix chair ALEC. Rep. Miller represents Iowa’s 82nd District which includes part of Bettendorf and Davenport. She is a resident of Bettendorf, chair of the House Human Resource Committee and a member of the Education and Labor Committees.
One bill introduced by Rep. Miller, along with numerous others, appears to have been authored by ALEC. It is an act establishing a requirement for voters to provide certain identification when voting in person at the polling place.
Similar legislation was introduced in other states across the county, and in some instances the more restrictive voting law was passed and signed into law.
Sen. Bill Dix represents Iowa State Senate District 9 and is a resident of Shell Rock. He is a ranking member of the Senate’s Appropriation Committee and serves on the State Government and Judiciary Committees. Like his ALEC co-chair in the House, Sen. Dix introduced a likely ALEC-initiated bill.
This one related to illegal immigration that provides for penalties. Both Rep. Miller and Sen. Dix also sponsored legislative resolutions in support of the XL Pipeline project that has little direct affect on the State of Iowa, but is important to ALEC’s corporate leaders.
Currently, 16 members of Iowa’s House of Representatives are affiliated with ALEC, according to Source Watch. All are members of the Republican Party except for Democratic Rep. Brian Quirk. And Quirk told the Des Moines Register in May he had cancelled his ALEC membership. There are six members of the Iowa Senate who are ALEC members. All are Republicans.
The run for the presidency is interesting and exciting, but the general direction of America’s political, economic and social path depends more on who controls America’s legislatures.
The decisions made in the U.S. Congress and in state capitals around the country are much more important than who will become America’s next president.
And, at this juncture, the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council is exerting its will on the nation’s future path.
As citizens, we should demand that our elected representatives represent us. Otherwise, the American experiment in self-government will be lost to those with power, money and influence.