The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will hold its annual meeting in Denver July 19-21. Caroline Fry of Colorado Common Cause, an organization that has been working to show ALEC’s influence in state legislatures around the country, says that it is a highly secretive organization with an over-arching goal of introducing business friendly legislation into states around the country, from rolling back minimum wage laws to rolling back environmental regulations.
“They’re an organization that’s been around since the ’70s. They have a 501(c)3 status with the IRS which we’ve challenged over the years, but they’re essentially an organization that brings together state legislators with corporate lobbyists and the overall mission is to create business friendly legislation, with no public input, that legislators can take home back to their home state and introduce into their general assemblies. ”
Fry cites the stand your ground laws as an example of ALEC’s influence in various states. Those self defense laws were used in the trial of George Zimmerman who was ultimately acquitted in the murder of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. “The NRA and ALEC had been working together to pass these gun friendly laws all over the country. ”
In Colorado, Fry says ALEC was involved in crafting the TABOR amendment (Tax Payer Bill of Rights.) “They’ve actually used the Colorado model to write a model bill that states can pass their own Tax Payer Bill of Rights in other states around the country.”
Colorado Common Cause is one of the groups that is planning protests of the ALEC Denver meeting. There will be an ALEC teach-in on Saturday July 18th from 10am to 2pm at the First Baptist Church of Denver, 1373 Grant St. The teach in will educate people on how ALEC negatively impacts the social, environmental, and economic justice movements in Colorado and nation-wide. Experts in the fields of environmental conservation, net neutrality, racial justice, voting rights, campaign finance reform, public education, and women’s rights will discuss how ALEC affects their work–and how people can fight back. This event is free, and lunch will be served. More information and RSVP here.
On Wednesday July 19th at 10am there will be a rally starting at the state capitol in Denver and heading to the Hyatt Regency in LoDo where the ALEC meeting. The rally is to protest Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who is giving a key note address to the ALEC gathering. More information and RSVP here.