ALEC 's Covert War on Democracy

Citizens protesting ALEC outside a meeting of the group in Oklahoma in 2013. ALEC will hold its 44th annual convention this year in Denver on July 19-21. (Image: Screenshot/ Moyers & Company/"United States of ALEC")

ALEC 's Covert War on Democracy

Ahead of national convention in Denver, a look at destruction wrought by group that pairs right-wing lawmakers with corporate interests

Describing an "illiberal" or "managed" democracy, political philosopher

Prior to 2016 elections," that seeks lists of all voters from every state. It would be difficult to overstate the consequences of widespread voter disenfranchisement, which should not be normalized. "Elections have consequences," assert political operatives. Conversely, "Illegitimate elections have illegitimate consequences."

At the forefront of mobilization of anti-democratic activity for over four decades is the Koch-/corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), working below the radar, serving as a catalyst to bring together legislators and their corporate funders in common cause to write legislation in service of their corporate bottom lines. As always, their scheduled campaign coffers. ALEC presents itself as a "501(c)(3) educational organization that provides nonpartisan research, study and analysis"; their professed intent - to "develop research-based model policies focused on limited government, free markets and federalism."

"Limited" government is an understatement - it is government truly limited to serving and serving up large financial gains to captains of industry who write policy and in turn grease the palms of their legislative servants who enact their policy for them.

Common Cause has challenged ALEC's "tax-exempt nonprofit status" even as ALEC actively lobbies for profit-driven legislation to benefit corporate members.

ALEC Seeks to Crush Participatory Democracy by Supplanting Voter, Worker & Local Power

Century-long juridical activism by conservative courts have reversed the power equation between corporations and the people who created them, even as unlimited cash has come to dominate corrupted politics, exacerbated by the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. Massive amounts of cash are directed to campaigns, initiatives and litigation, even as decades of policies have effectively transferred wealth upward.

All that is left for friends of oligarchs is to crush participatory democracy. A primary goal of ALEC and its local government subsidiary, the American City County Exchange (ACCE) has been to suppress voter participation by erecting barriers in the form of photo ID laws and proof of citizenship requirements. Such strategies are intended to disenfranchise m any vulnerable voters - the young, the old and minorities.

State Preemption Laws

Achieving corporate goals begins with targeting local government regulations that might impede corporate profits. Ostensibly to promote limited government, ALEC and its allies seek to


Because it is easier for industry to work their money and influence in 50 state legislatures than in thousands of municipalities, ALEC creates model state preemption laws to directly or retroactively block local laws and ordinances. Preemption laws strip the right of local governance surrounding every conceivable issue, including minimum wage, paid sick leave and benefits, pensions, rent control, community broadband, cyanide heap leach mining, high-volume slick-water hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), pesticide and GMO restrictions, plastic bag bans, gun safety laws, factory farming, or anything else industry desires to control.

The ultimate takedown of direct democracy has been the

Privatization of Public Education for Profit
Seeking to

In Colorado: Legislative and Judicial Preemptions of Local Government

State Preemption of Community Broadband
Telecommunication companies, i.e., Qwest and Comcast, lobbied the 2005 state legislature to pass state preemption of municipal broadband. The law provides for local Colorado community broadband pending success of a voter referendum, with restrictions applied.

State Preemption of Local Gun Laws
In 2003 an ALEC model state preemption of local gun safety laws (SB-03-25) was signed by Governor Bill Owens, rendering local gun ordinances unenforceable. Denver challenged the preemption law in court & got to keep bans on assault weapons and open firearms carry only after a tie vote when a Colorado Supreme Court justice recused herself.

AgGag Laws - Factory Farming
ALEC bill, "The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act" seeks to criminalize as "terrorists" whistle blowers who reveal abusive/dangerous conditions at animal facilities. The Colorado Agricultural Protection Act of 1981 C.R.S. 35-3.5-102 voids any local ordinance "that makes operation of any agricultural operation a nuisance," with few exceptions.

Minimum Wage Preemption
Colorado law SB99-014 passed in 1999 prohibits enactment of a minimum wage by any local governing body, initiative, referendum, or any other process.

Preemption of Bans on Mining with Acidic Chemicals, e.g., Cyanides
Acidic wastewater from cyanide heap leach gold mining at the Summitville Mine in the San Juan Mountains killed off 17 miles of the Alamosa River. Five counties that banned use of toxic chemicals/cyanide for mining, saw their bans overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2009 on the basis of state preemption of local law.

Preemption of Ban on Fracking
A Greeley ban on oil and gas extraction enacted as a local ordinance in 1985, both by ballot initiative in a home rule city, and by city council action, was overturned by two 1992 Colorado Supreme Court cases, Voss v. Lundvall Bros. Inc and Bowen/Edwards Assoc. Inc. v. Board of County Commissioners of La Plata County, holding that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act (O&GCA) preempts any outright ban as well as any local regulation that creates an "operational conflict" with the O&GCA. Fracking bans and moratoriums in Longmont, Lafayette, Fort Collins and Broomfield have all been challenged in court by the Oil & Gas industry.

Preemption of Rent Control
A 1981 Colorado law prohibiting control of rents by counties and municipalities was enacted as a reaction to a Boulder citizen initiative to impose rent controls. A 2000 Colorado Supreme Court decision held that the state statute prohibiting local communities from enacting rent control preempted a local ordinance enacted by the City Council of the home rule city of Telluride that would have required a percentage of affordable housing in a new development.

Preemption of Plastic Bag Ban
A 1989 Colorado state law, HB 89-1300, prohibits a ban of the use or sale of plastic materials or products in Colorado. A bill to overturn that law in 2014 failed. To work around the prohibition of a ban on plastic bags and to reduce waste, a number of communities have imposed fees on plastic and paper bags.


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