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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana has an impressive army of ALEC soldiers"

That is a quote from this long centerpiece opinion piece today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, written by Karen Francisco. (Here is a long list of earlier ILB entries on ALEC, including most recently, this one headed "Indiana law exempts ALEC from lobbyist disclosure requirements.") A sample:

The Washington-based organization is made up of two primary groups: conservative state lawmakers from across the country and corporate representatives and groups such as the National Rifle Association. * * *

Eight task forces, directed by a public chair and a private chair, are divided into subject areas covering virtually every type of legislation. In closed sessions, they supposedly hammer out bills to advance their common aims of free-market, limited-government solutions.

“The engine of ALEC is these task forces,” Fischer said. “This is where the work gets done.”

But how much clout a citizen-lawmaker might have within a room full of industry experts is questionable.

The private chair of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development task force, for example, is an attorney for State Farm insurance.

The education panel private chair is vice president of Connections Academy, a company that operates cyber-charter schools and sells online education programs. Among the panel’s model bills? A one-to-one reading improvement act requiring schools to electronically align a school’s instructional resources to state standards – coincidentally, a service offered by Connections Academy.

In the last legislative session, ALEC member Sen. Jim Banks, a Columbia City Republican, filed a bill requiring all Indiana students to complete an online course before graduation. His bill passed the Senate but died in the House after some lawmakers began questioning the load of mandates placed on schools.

Education bills approved by Indiana lawmakers in the 2011 session almost mirror ALEC’s directory of model legislation. There’s an early graduation scholarship incentive (the Mitch Daniels Early Graduation Scholarship); a statewide charter school authorizer (The Indiana Charter Schools Board); a teacher quality and recognition act (Indiana’s Excellence for Performance Awards For Teachers) and more.

Then there’s ALEC’s model Right to Work Act, delivered this year as Indiana House Enrolled Act 1001. The proponents’ leading “expert” on right-to-work laws? Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economist who also serves on ALEC’s board of scholars.

The story includes a side-bar listing at least some Indiana's ALEC members.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 13, 2012 03:43 PM
Posted to Indiana Government