What Is ALEC?
American Legislative Exchange Council
ALEC was founded in 1973 in Chicago as the "Conservative Caucus of State Legislators", a project initiated by Mark Rhoads, an Illinois state house staffer, to counter the Environmental Protection Agency, wage and price controls, and the defeat of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. Conservative legislators felt the word "conservative" was unpopular with the public at the time, however, so the organization was renamed as the American Legislative Exchange Council. In 1975, with the support of the American Conservative Union, ALEC registered as a federal nonprofit agency. Bill Moyers and Greenpeace have attributed the establishment of ALEC to the influential Powell Memorandum, which led to the rise of a new business activist movement in the 1970s.
As of December 2013, ALEC had more than 85 members of Congress and 14 sitting or former governors who were considered "alumni". The majority of ALEC's legislative members belong to the Republican Party. Membership statistics presented at an ALEC board meeting in 2013 indicated that the 1,810 members represented 24% of all state legislative seats across the U.S., and that ALEC members represented 100% of the legislative seats in Iowa and South Dakota. It also has approximately 300 corporate, foundation, and other private-sector members. The chairmanship of ALEC is a rotating position, with a new legislator appointed to the position each year. As of 2012, 28 out of 33 of its chairs had been Republicans. In 2013 the chair was John Piscopo, a Republican member of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
ALEC has nine "task forces" that are responsible for drafting bills: 1) Civil Justice; 2) Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development; 3) Communications and Technology; 4) Education; 5) Energy, Environment, and Agriculture; 6) Health and Human Services; 7) International Relations; 8) Justice Performance Project; and 9) Tax and Fiscal Policy. Public- and private-sector members make up each of the task forces—the public-sector members are state legislators and the private-sector members typically are corporate lobbyists or think-tank representatives. These task forces generate model bills that members can then customize and introduce for debate in their own state legislatures. Private sector members effectively have veto power over model bills drafted by the task forces.
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