For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Ufuoma Otu (202) 454-5108, uotu@citizen.org; Matthew Groch (202) 454-5111, mgroch@citizen.org

Republican and Democratic State Legislators Release Letter Signed by 300 Colleagues From Coast to Coast Urging End of ISDS in NAFTA

Press Call at 2 p.m. EDT Wednesday

WASHINGTON - WHAT: With all eyes on the fate of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations, state legislators from across the political spectrum will host a telephone press call to release a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer signed by 300 of their Republican and Democratic colleagues from nearly all 50 states demanding that Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) be eliminated in a new NAFTA deal. Whether a NAFTA replacement deal eliminates the expansive corporate privileges and parallel “justice” system now in NAFTA’s text will be a decisive factor in a prospective new pact’s ability to obtain a majority in Congress. While the state legislators on the call hold divergent views on most issues, including NAFTA, they reflect a breadth of consensus against NAFTA’s ISDS terms that undermine state-level policymaking and have allowed multinational corporations to pocket $392 million from taxpayers and launch attacks on toxic bans, environmental and public health policies. The National Conference of State Legislatures, the bipartisan body representing the nation’s state legislative bodies, has a longstanding resolution opposing trade deals that include ISDS.

WHO: State Senator Maralyn Chase (D-Washington)

State Representative Stacey Guerin (R-Maine)

State Senator and Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Ohio)

Dan Ikenson, director, Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies

Lori Wallach, director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Additional state legislators to be confirmed

WHEN: 2 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Sept. 12

CALL-IN: U.S. Toll Free: (800) 874-4559

                    Canada Toll Free: (800) 696-0876

                    International Toll: (302) 607-2019

                    Verbal Passcode (to be given to the operator): ENDISDS

Background:

The 300 state legislators on the letter highlight the dangers that ISDS poses for state sovereignty and local lawmaking. ISDS has enabled transnational corporations to challenge state laws, local land use ordinances and even court decisions in an arbitration system, where corporations seek unlimited sums of taxpayer money, including for the loss of expected future profits. To prevail, the corporations need only convince a panel of three corporate lawyers that a state law violates the expansive rights granted to them under NAFTA. The panel decisions are not subject to appeal.

The letter reiterates the longstanding position of the National Conference of State Legislatures that ISDS has no place in American trade agreements.

Earlier this summer, the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) orchestrated a pro-ISDS letter that garnered only 12 state legislators.

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