Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My First ALEC Conference - Journey Into a Parallel World » Resist the Privatization of America

My First ALEC Conference - Journey Into a Parallel World » Resist the Privatization of America:

My First ALEC Conference – Journey Into a Parallel World

Corporate agenda is clear at ALEC conference

Taking the baton from Marc Pocan (now in the U.S. House),  State Rep. Chris Taylor is now the progressive WI democrat in ALEC. This report is written by her about her experience at the recent ALEC meeting in Kansas City.
2old2care at ALEC meeting in KC--for article insertI recently traveled to Missouri to attend my second American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference.As a state legislator from Wisconsin, I joined ALEC last year. That was the beginning of my journey into a parallel world. In the ALEC otherworld, the three branches of government are: 1. Multinational corporations, including Anheuser-Busch and Koch Industries, 2. Rightwing think tanks networked together through the State Policy Network, and 3. State legislators like me — although, as a progressive Democrat, I don’t fit the mold. Most of my colleagues who belong to ALEC are Republicans and many are tea partiers.The three branches work together to construct and advance model bills in state legislatures throughout the country to further ALEC’s agenda of corporate dominance.The gathering in Missouri was smaller and more intimate than last August’s annual conference. But it started the same way. I received no pre-conference materials and had to ask the hotel clerk when and where to check in.Strict conference rules applied. One attendee registering next to me was denied entrance because she did not have a photo ID. Signs throughout the conference reminded participants that ID badges “were required at all sessions,” with sign-in sheets and, in smaller sessions, individual introductions.
Secrecy reigned supreme.
When I asked one of my fellow attendees to take my picture, an ALEC employee forbade it.
But unlike my first experience at an ALEC conference, this time I no longer had anonymity. This conference was dominated by individual workgroups and subcommittees rather than large workshops and receptions. According to a right-wing blogger, an unidentified ALEC staffer had divulged that they were expecting me. For an organization that depends on secrecy to function, including refusing to disclose its members and member fees, revealing attendees was extraordinary.
In this smaller setting, ALEC’s internal inconsistencies were more evident.
A part of ALEC’s battle is to preserve an old economy, where coal, oil and gas remain supreme. Their defense of these industries represents the will of corporate members Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and Peabody Energy. Yet their regressive approach to energy policy conflicts with their professed allegiance to Jeffersonian “free market” principles and consumer choice.
Though the renewable energy sector is growing, is popular with the public, and is generating new jobs — and the solar industry now employs 140,000 more people than our nation’s coal mines (I did not know that, so take that Mitch McConnell and your crocodile tears for your constituents) — conference attendees focused on hindering this sector, especially solar. Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo, who recently received national attention about a racist tweet My First ALEC Conference - Journey Into a Parallel World » Resist the Privatization of America: