Profit Driven Legislation Created Behind Closed Doors

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The Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, Ray Merrick is preparing to attend the ALEC- American Legislative Exchange Council’s 42nd annual meeting in San Diego, California on July 22nd through the 24th as a member of the host committee.

ALEC is an organization corrupting the democratic process in state legislatures throughout the country with model bills drafted behind closed doors to benefit the bottom line of corporations at the expense of the public.

Kansas is leading the parade among states in adopting ALEC’s fiscal policies with the help of Merrick and Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle since both serve on ALEC’s board of directors.

Arthur Laffer, a prominent ALEC consultant, was paid $75,000 of tax payer money to tell Governor Brownback that repealing the income tax would help the economy. But Laffer’s theory has proven to be very bad advice as the state’s general operating fund faces an $800 million GAP in lost revenues.

In light of this serious fiscal crisis, why would Speaker Merrick continue to support model legislation from ALEC when he sees that Laffer’s flawed tax cut nonsense will have dramatic negative consequences for millions of Kansans when core programs like education and social services are cut to the bone within the next few months?

After searching the internet for possible answers, I purchased a  “Stand Up to ALEC” comprehensive report compiled by a group called ALEC Exposed, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy and finally found out why Merrick is so attached to ALEC.

Between the years 2000-2012, Merrick received campaign contributions totaling $75,100 from more than thirty corporate ALEC sponsors  including: Altria, AT&T, Atmos Energy, Bayer AG, Boeing, BP North America, BNSF Railway, Century Link, Coca Cola, Comcast, Conoco Phillips, Distilled Spirits Council of the US, Exon Mobil, Farmers Insurance Group, General Electric, General Motors, KC Power and Light,, Koch Chemical Technology Group, Koch Industries, Koch Supply & Trading, Kraft Foods, Medco Health Solutions, Pepsi Cola, Pfizer, Philip Morris,, Reynolds American, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, SBC Communications, SW Bell, and Sprint.

Mr. Merrick is not alone.  Other Kansas legislators listed who received corporate campaign contributions include:  Peggy Mast $42,975, Kyle Hoffman $7,350, Susan Wagle $118,000, Jeff King $28,750, Terry Bruce $46,550, Julia Lynn $48,697.95, and  Garrett Love $18,225. 

It should not come as a surprise that Koch Industries was a sponsor on every list.  The Source for the above information came from: National Institute of Money in Politics, accessed (4/17/14)

The majority of Kansans are unaware that ALEC and their corporate sponsors have played such a large role in their influence over some Kansas legislators who were elected to represent the citizens of Kansas and not the wishes of special interest groups. 

If Kansans want more transparency in legislative decisions, we should take a hard look at members of our legislature who are members of ALEC, and ask them why they belong to an organization who wants to cut taxes for corporations, shift taxes from wealthy households to the other state residents who can least afford the burden, and worst of all, impose rigid limits on state revenue and spending to permanently shrink education, health care and other public services.

Below is the list compiled from the report showing ALEC members from the Kansas House and Senate:

Kansas Senate Members listed on Page 5 of the Report:

Terry Bruce, Garrett Love, Mary Pilcher-Cook, Jim Denning, Julia Lynn, Larry Powell, Mitch Holmes, Ty Masterson, Dennis Pyle, Daniel Kerschen, Jeff Melcher, Susan Wagle, Jeff King, Ralph Ostmeyer, Forrest Knox, Mike Peterson

Kansas House Members listed on Page 5 of the Report:

Steve Alford, Rob Bruchman, Steve Brunk, Richard Carlson, J.R. Claeys, Travis Lovelady-Couture, Pete DeGraaf, Keith Esau, Randy Garber, Mario Goico, Amanda Grosserode, Gary Hayzlett, Dennis Hedke, Phil Hermanson, Kyle Hoffman, Steve Huebert, Kevin Jones, Lance Kinzer, Marvin Kleeb, Charles Macheers, Peggy Mast, Kelly Meigs, Ray Merrick, Marc Rhoades, John James Rubin, Ronald Ryckman, Don Schroeder, Scott Schwab, Sharon Schwartz, Joe Seiwert, Gene Sullentrop, James Todd

If your elected official is listed above, please contact that legislative member and ask, “Why are you involved with ALEC?”

 

To contact the author email: LarryWeigel@hotmail.com

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