ALEC Kills Controversial Task Force—But Still Plans Attacks on Enviro Protections, Science Education

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After a spate of bad publicity, the American Legislative Exchange Council is scrapping its most controversial arm, the Public Safety and Elections Task Force. Here's the International Business Times:

The American Legislative Exchange Council, an influential conservative organization that helps craft state-level legislation, announced on Tuesday it would halt its work on a "Public Safety and Elections Task Force" that had formulated voter identification and gun laws.

ALEC's legislative work burst into public view after the controversial shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager whose assailant was initially not arrested because of a law ALEC had promoted. The so-called "stand your ground" law exonerates people who use lethal force in self-defense.

This is good news indeed, and a victory to the campaigners, lead by Color of Change and Common Cause, to be sure. But it's only one of ALEC's nine or so "Task Forces" that help corporations draft bills and swap them with state legislators. As Nancy Scola writes in the Atlantic, "the group's decision today ... is both a big deal -- and not." Why not? Because it's just a single head of a hydra that's been lopped off here: ALEC is still functioning in much the same manner, facilitating "exchanges" of "model bills" between corporate honchos and state lawmakers in a manner that most everyone would agree is undemocratic.

Scola outlines where the democracy-subverting action is still hot and heavy:

According to the ALEC website, among the eight or so task forces that remain are those on the environment, education, and economic development. There's no sign that the group has any intention of rethinking its work on the issues Common Cause cares about.
And she notes that the organization is actually "doubling down" on the model that has allowed ALEC bills to proliferate—they're pleased with the success of bills like the Tennessee climate change and evolution denial bill, and especially with those pushing "fiscally conservative" policies like corporate tax cuts and curbs on union power.

In other words, ALEC is alive and well—it just ditched its most public, most embarrassing contingent. They'll still be passing around bills that promote creationism and climate skepticism in the classroom and that roll back environmental protections. They're still quietly helping corporations change laws in states across the nation; ensuring that the group's dubious activities stay in the spotlight after this particular high-profile concession will be paramount to adequately withering its influence.

Tags: United States

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