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Viewpoint: Watch out for boilerplate legislation


Friday, August 11, 2017

Let me introduce you to ALEC. I’m not sure if you have already met.

ALEC stands for American Legislative Exchange Council. It is a nationwide organization – officially begun in 1973 - which provides model legislation on a wide range of bills for state legislators and others who pay for the privilege. Bills that are important to the conservative agenda and that may be customized by your legislator to fit the needs of your state. You can look it up – just key in www.alec.org in your browser and then click on Issues. You can peruse many of their top causes by scrolling through the Issues page. You can also click on a link that takes you to a listing of current and past members of ALEC as well as pointer to their Board of Directors.

The 25 member board page shows our very own Senator Gary Daniels as a current board member. The team is described as: “A dedicated team of state legislative leaders from across the country serves as the governing board of ALEC. They are among the vanguard for freedom who dedicate their time and resources to promote limited government, free markets and federalism.”

I bring this up because I did not know about the ALEC organization until about 10 years ago. Before that I assumed that states all across the country magically had the same kinds of mean spirited legislation as we were seeing in New Hampshire. But here is a homegrown Cliff Notes version of ALEC and what it does and does not do for you.

ALEC strives to provide clear language for boilerplate legislation. The issues are developed so your legislator can easily adapt their language for your state. Several states including New Hampshire have a legislative agenda full of ALEC’s creations each session. The topics of some of the ALEC derivations are: reducing regulations; corporate and individual taxation, loosening environmental regulations, passing the Right-to-Work law, loosening gun control laws,defunding family planning, public education, and the list goes on.

ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of such bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization.

ALEC is very powerful, well-funded, and successful in getting their agenda in front of legislative bodies across this country. By allowing sympathizers to research conservative policies in ALEC’s system, the users can bring those proposals to their local party branch and then, after massaging the verbiage a bit, introduce them in statehouses as their own brainstorms without disclosing the source. New Hampshire has several legislators listed as members of ALEC and one of our legislators is on ALEC’s Board of Directors.

Why do I bring this to your attention? Because an informed electorate is a powerful electorate. Even a handful of legislators under ALEC’s thumb is too many. Read the list of members on the ALEC website then look up the New Hampshire participants and let them know what you think of their partnership with this organization that seeks to further the ALEC agenda over the needs of individuals.

Carol R. Robert is State Representative for Hillsborough ​County ​D​istrict ​4.