By Doug Porter
Not long after the superheroes of Comic-con make their exit, the evil empire’s minions will be staging their own gathering at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego.
The right-wing bill mill known as the American Legislative Council will be bringing together (July 22-24) corporate lobbyists and state legislators from around the country to plan for the coming year.
Despite having high hopes for advancing their agenda following gerrymandered GOP gains in recent elections, ALEC has run into some serious problems lately. In fact, the only entity losing support faster than Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Rush Limbaugh radio advertisers would be ALEC.
As of April 2015, at least 103 corporations and 19 non-profits — for a total of 120 private sector members — have publicly announced that they cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC)
Who Are These People?
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills.
While many companies like Google and Coca-Cola have severed ties, there are plenty of others looking to use ALEC’s connections. The dirty energy industry, big tobacco and big pharma all have agendas that can benefit from these sorts of relationships. And, of course, any group looking to further exploit workers knows they’ll be welcomed.
As we get closer to the date, San Diego Free Press will be featuring daily reports on the group’s agenda and activities. (Suffice it to say we don’t approve.)
There are public protests being planned, here’s the Facebook page. And if your organization would like to opine on the ALEC agenda as it affects your areas of concern, please drop us a line Contact@SanDiegoFreePress.Org.
Today’s Lesson on ALEC’s Bad Ideas
Using documents from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (LTDL), UC San Francisco’s an electronic archive containing 70+ million pages of previously-secret internal tobacco industry documents the Center for Media and Democracy has done extensive research on the relationship of Big Tobacco and ALEC.
ALEC’s relationship with the tobacco industry started after 1979, when ALEC Executive Director, Kathleen Teague, first wrote the Tobacco Institute seeking financial support. Shortly after, Institute members started participating in ALEC events. The industry’s relationship with ALEC showed its worth quickly after ALEC provided Tobacco Institute members with face-to-face access to highest-level federal elected officials…
…The alliance between Big Tobacco and the American Legislative Exchange Council has long and close, and one that has set back public health efforts to regulate tobacco by decades, at a great cost to American lives. ALEC has supported industry at every turn, regardless of the consequences to the American people, and at a dire cost to public health.
The resulting burden of disease has cost governments greatly. ALEC has opposed FDA regulation of tobacco. ALEC opposed the U.S. government’s 1999 lawsuit against the tobacco industry, which ultimately found the industry guilty of perpetrating 50 years of fraud against the American people about the health hazards of smoking — and the state Attorneys General lawsuits that resulted in a $246 billion settlement to the states. ALEC promoted model legislation to benefit Big Tobacco, whether it was fake youth smoking prevention programs or contrived property rights arguments to preserve public smoking. Throughout all this, ALEC showed no concern whatsoever for the health of Americans — only concern about advancing their paymasters’ policies.
These days ALEC focuses on fighting efforts to regulate e cigarettes domestically and smokeless tobacco.
Here’s an example consistent with their handiwork, plucked from the pages of today’s Union-Tribune:
A California lawmaker was forced to forsake his own tobacco bill Wednesday after a legislative panel gutted its key provision calling for electronic cigarettes to be regulated as a tobacco product.
The developments stalled the bill in the committee and threatened its chances of becoming law.
“If it’s not defined as a tobacco product, they’ll still market to our children. They’ll still hook our children,” Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, told lawmakers after they voted in favor of the amendment. “It’s a dangerous bill now.”
Leno angrily told the committee that he and the bill’s co-sponsors, which include the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Heart Association, would not take part in advancing the diluted bill.
Bubble Gum and Gummy Bear Nicotine’s A-OK
These kinds of public policy fights are also going on in Washington DC (ALEC focuses on state legislatures).
From The Hill:
Republicans blocked an amendment Wednesday that would have removed a provision from a spending bill exempting electronic cigarettes and other products from the Food and Drug Administration’s pre-market review process.
GOP appropriators rejected the proposal to strike the bill’s language in a 26-23 vote.
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who offered the amendment, called the rider “objectionable” and said she’s “shocked” at its inclusion in the bill.
“This bill would allow them to stay on the market … without an FDA pre-market review and open the door for similar products to avoid FDA review down the road,” Lowey said…
…“Many of these products are aimed at children, including a substantial number of the 7,000 flavors of e-cigarettes … bubble gum, gummy bears, swedish fish,” Lowey said.
”E-cigarettes is not really smoking,” Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) said. “I think most people realize they are less dangerous than cigarettes and yet we’re subjecting them to a higher level of regulation.”
On to other news…
Proposition 13 Reform Pushback: They’re Coming for Your Granny’s House
It’s no secret that Democrats are looking to the November 2016 election as an opportunity to enact reforms in California property tax system.
Corporations have been gaming a loophole in Proposition 13 for billions of dollars by structuring property transfers in a manner exempting them from reassessments ensuring they are taxed somewhere in the neighborhood of current market value.
All of the various changes under consideration would exempt residences and agricultural and provide tax breaks to help small businesses. This reality hasn’t stopped right-wingers like the Union-Tribune’s Steve Greenhut from issuing dire warnings to the effect that the evil unions are out to raise your granny’s property taxes.
Some of California’s politically powerful public-sector unions are gearing up for a 2016 ballot initiative that would “reform” Proposition 13 and get rid of its so-called tax “loopholes” to promote fairness. Their goal is to hike business property taxes by $9 billion a year by eliminating the limitations imposed by that groundbreaking initiative.
And the latest evidence suggests — despite supporters’ protests to the contrary — that residential property taxes could eventually be in the cross hairs.
So what is this ‘latest evidence’ cited by Greenhut?
This proposal is a big concern of the business community. Some say it should also be of concern to homeowners.
We learn in today’s article that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is making a documentary about Proposition 13. A few out of context quotes from a pre-release synopsis are bandied about.
That’s it, unless you want to include a quote from the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, saying that splitting the tax roll is the “first step off the slippery slope.”
Evidence? Really? Maybe he needs to come up with a photoshopped picture, like the one Dinesh D’Souza tweeted out yesterday. (It purported to show Hillary Clinton in front of a confederate flag.)
D’Souza later issued a “correction” on Facebook, leaving the photoshopped image of the Confederate flag up but writing, “even if the #ConfederateFlag was edited into this Hillary photo, WHAT is going on with those glasses and that hairdo?” Really.
So brace yourself for the lies; sixteen months before the election the trickle down philosophers are rolling out the fear.
Look closely at this Hillary photo; isn’t that a Confederate flag behind her on the bookshelf? pic.twitter.com/Og3Q0IKREP
— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) July 7, 2015
Speaking of Fear: Look for the Return of Death Panels
When the current crowd of Republican hopefuls gets through bashing immigrants ala Trump, you can look forward to the resurrection of the Death Panels meme.
From the Union-Tribune:
Medicare, the federal program that insures 55 million older and disabled Americans, announced plans Wednesday to reimburse doctors for conversations with patients about whether and how they would want to be kept alive if they became too sick to speak for themselves.
The proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days, but it is expected to be approved and to take effect in January. If adopted, it would settle a debate that raged before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, when Sarah Palin labeled a similar plan as tantamount to setting up “death panels” that could cut off care for the sick.
On This Day: 1868 – The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The amendment was designed to grant citizenship to and protect the civil liberties of recently freed slaves. It did this by prohibiting states from denying or abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, depriving any person of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying to any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 1955 – The Bill Haley & His Comets single “Rock Around the Clock” hit #1 on Billboard’s Pop charts. This was the first time a rock and roll recording accomplished this feat. 2001 – Five thousand demonstrators rally at the state capitol in Columbia, S.C., in support of the “Charleston Five,” labor activists charged with felony rioting during a police attack on a 2000 longshoremen’s picket of a non-union crew unloading a ship.
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