Billionaires fund group that's writing laws

There is a larger story to the “Stand Your Ground” law and it’s called ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group funded by the Koch Brothers and other large corporations. They are not a lobbying group. They write legislation in the form of templates and push them through conservative legislators whom they often support through campaign contributions.

In Iowa, House members’ ALEC dues are automatically paid for by taxpayers, according to the House clerk, Charles Smithson. A legislator must opt out of ALEC, rather than opt in. All of the Iowa Democrats in the Iowa House have opted out except for one, Brian Quirk of New Hampton. Many Republican House members are ALEC members and Gov. Terry Branstad is a founding member of ALEC. In the Iowa Senate, dues are not automatically paid by taxpayers so there is no way to find out if a senator is a member short of asking individual senators or submitting a freedom of information request.

If Iowans knew where some of these laws are coming from, they might have a different view of whether these laws are appropriate for our state. ALEC is responsible for pushing voter ID laws, union-busting laws and anti-education laws through state legislatures. It is important for the media to inform the public about where these laws are coming from.

Trish Nelson

Iowa City


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