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ALEC's Recent Anniversary Draws Protests

PHOTO: The Center for Media and Democracy says New Mexico is one of the states included in the list of 117 ALEC bills designed to cut salaries and workers’ rights in 2013. Courtesy of Center for Media and Democracy.
PHOTO: The Center for Media and Democracy says New Mexico is one of the states included in the list of 117 ALEC bills designed to cut salaries and workers’ rights in 2013. Courtesy of Center for Media and Democracy.
August 12, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A nonprofit group that may be unfamiliar to many New Mexico voters held its 40th anniversary gathering Aug. 7-9 in Illinois, facing protests from watchdog, labor, religious and civil rights groups. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has relationships with as many as 16 New Mexico state legislators.

Brendan Fischer, general counsel for the Center, said an investigation by the group has identified hundreds of templates for legislation that ALEC gives to state lawmakers to take back to their state capitols. He said the bills make it easier for corporations to make more money, pollute and keep wages down.

"We call it a 'corporate bill mill,'" Fischer said. "They bring corporations together with state legislators and push model legislation that benefits those same corporate interests and special interests that are bankrolling ALEC."

ALEC has been connected to New Mexico's HB 351, the Right to Work Act, which died in the House. It has also been tied to the "stand your ground" laws backed by the National Rifle Association. In Fischer's view, when big money wines and dines state lawmakers and hands them the word-for-word legislation to introduce, citizens and grassroots organizations can't compete.

Fischer noted that some of the ALEC laws have misleading titles. For instance, the "Disclosure of Hydraulic Fluid Composition Act" sounds like it would help people understand what chemicals might be in fracking fluid that could seep into groundwater. However, he said, that isn't the case.

"It was actually drafted by Exxon-Mobil, brought to ALEC, and even though it has a title of a disclosure bill, the real purpose is to prevent disclosure," he explained. "It includes a huge loophole for 'trade secrets.'"

Of the 17 New Mexico state legislators that the Center for Media and Democracy found to have a connection to ALEC, only one of them is reported to have severed the relationship.

More information is available at www.alecexposed.org and http://afsc.org.

Renee Blake, Public News Service - NM