Kansas public preschools are isolated and rare. Educators at all levels in Kansas are frustrated and fleeing.
As the dust settles from one of the worst legislative sessions in Kansas history, we acknowledge that class sizes are larger, we have a statewide teacher shortage bordering on crisis and we have cornered ourselves into a place where the State Board of Education finds it necessary to hire unlicensed people to educate our children.
I’ve been frustrated with our governor over many things but mostly about public education. I have learned in the military and also in various problem-solving roles like helping homeless veterans receive the care they deserve that treating the symptoms but ignoring the cause not only prolongs the problem but may actually exacerbate the stigma, the divisiveness and even spur the eventual collapse. The achievement gap doesn’t begin at third grade or high school but on the first day of kindergarten and it’s rooted in inequitable access to preschool.
Our governor offers ideas and speaks passionately about improving reading scores, improving graduation rates and competing academically on a national level. For any of those admirable goals to be achieved he needs to simply get out of the way. His obstruction is isolating Kansas from its peers.
What he calls “innovation” looks a whole lot like the 1950s. The modern world has hit the accelerator on early education growth and investment. America is putting more than $2 billion into preschool development awards for states to compete. Innovation in 2015 means having higher standards and expecting more during a period of time when children are young and have the highest potential to learn and grow beyond anything we were able to do. We expect more from our children and we have to give them access to that opportunity.
Last year I asked the governor why he was blocking the application for Kansas to compete for more than 2 billion in preschool development dollars. He said he was waiting on the Legislature to make a decision. I spoke with the chair of the House Education Committee leading up to the session and asked him if he was ready to talk about the federal preschool development grants. Kansas had already missed the first deadline and the next one will be coming soon. Unfortunately, the representative said he had never heard of this and the governor’s office never mentioned anything about preschool development grants to him.
I wasn’t surprised since Rep. Ron Highland (R-Wamego) had just recently been named chair of the House Education Committee. I assumed it was probably just that he hadn’t been informed quite yet. I watched with curiosity as the legislative session dragged on and yet not a single mention in the record long session for preschool development funding.
For the past 16 years our neighbor to the south, Oklahoma, has had universal public preschool for every 4-year-old in their state. Kansas has more than 40,000 4-year-olds who missed out on another guaranteed year of preschool while Oklahoma marches on and begins to see the success in their workforce.
If you are still on the fence about “early education” investment, the research is in. All around the country Republican governors are using their authority to broaden and expand early education in their states. However, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has built a wall around early education by prohibiting development dollars for early investment and growth. Meanwhile, Kansans’ federal tax dollars are paying for early education initiatives in 18 other states: $226 million and over 18,000 additional children will be served in high-quality preschool programs in year one of the program. Not a single Kansan.
Due diligence has run its course. Brownback should tear down this wall and open our state to investments in early education, guaranteeing preschool for every 4-year-old in Kansas. If you do this, then your goal to improve third grade reading scores and high school graduation rates will become realized and not just another failed campaign promise.
Aaron Estabrook is the Vice-Preisdent of the Manhattan-Ogden Board of Education, in Manhattan Kansas. He is also the co-founder of the Moderate Party of Kansas movement.
Many Republican legislators in the Kansas Statehouse follow a specific agenda.
It’s not Kansas-based, but does come from a political organization supported in part by Kansas’ own Koch brothers: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), on a mission to shrink government and drive corporate profits.
A “bill mill” for ultraconservative policy making, ALEC views statehouses nationwide as places to gain more traction, and has made significant inroads in Kansas.
ALEC has enlisted numerous GOP state lawmakers to push dozens of its “free-market, limited government” initiatives in recent years in Kansas, to include 2012 legislation for massive income-tax cuts for businesses and other wealthy Kansans that wrecked the state budget.
Examples of ALEC pursuits:
• Privatizing education, while undermining support for public schools and educators
• Blocking Medicaid expansion
• Using bogus claims of voter fraud to enact Voter ID and related strategies that suppress the vote
• Erasing renewable portfolio standards that encourage wind energy and other renewables
Key ALEC allies in Kansas include Senate President Susan Wagle and House Speaker Ray Merrick, both ALEC board members.
They’re set to join state lawmakers from across the nation at a private ALEC meeting later this month in California, where they’ll work behind closed doors with large corporations on so-called “model” bills to push through the 2016 legislative session with minimal public input and scrutiny.
While corporations have every right to pursue legislation favorable to their interests, why operate so secretly? Along with private bill-drafting sessions, lawmakers also avoid claiming authorship when ALEC bills emerge in their states.
If the ventures are worthwhile, what’s to hide?
Kansans interested in knowing more should see “United States of ALEC” from journalist Bill Moyers, available online at billmoyers.com.
Whether or not Kansans want more corporate-interest control, they should know how ALEC influences many state lawmakers.
Local and area lawmakers linked to ALEC include Sen. Larry Powell, R-Garden City; Sen. Garrett Love, R-Montezuma; Sen. Mitch Holmes, R-St. John; and Rep. Steve Alford, R-Ulysses.
When 2016 elections roll around in Kansas, voters tired of taking a back seat should unseat ALEC followers who put interests of big corporations first — and at significant cost to the state as a whole.
By: Bryan Lowry
Fourteen Republican lawmakers are attending the annual ALEC conference in San Diego this week in part on the taxpayer’s dime.
It’s one of several conferences attended by lawmakers this summer.
The American Legislative Exchange Council has helped craft several pieces of legislation that have gained traction at the Kansas Statehouse in recent years. For example, the 2013 innovative school districts program, which exempts participating districts from certain state regulations, can be traced to a model bill from ALEC.
The annual conference, which is closed to the public, could generate more ideas that gain traction in Topeka.
Fourteen lawmakers had their registration fees paid for by the state at a total cost of $7,300, according to Legislative Administrative Services. More lawmakers probably are attending the conference, which runs July 22 through 24, but registered on their own and paid their own fees.
The lawmakers who had their fee paid for by the state: Reps. Steve Brunk, Dan Hawkins, Dennis Hedke and Gene Suellentrop, all Republicans from Wichita; Rep. Marvin Kleeb, R-Overland Park, the House Tax chairman; Rep. Ron Highland, R-Wamego, the House Education chairman; Rep. John Barker, R-Abilene, the House Judiciary chairman; Reps. James Todd and Jerry Lunn, both Republicans from Overland Park; Rep. Will Carpenter, R-El Dorado; Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville; Rep. Charles Macheers, R-Shawnee; Rep. Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie; and Sen. Larry Powell, R-Garden City.
House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, and Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, serve as board members for ALEC. Their staffs said that they are attending the conference but registered and paid independently. Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, is also attending on his own.
“ALEC is a member-led organization of legislators from across the nation,” Merrick said in an e-mail. “ALEC provides a forum for legislators to discuss the challenges they face in their states and exchange best practices and policy ideas.”
ALEC sent out a message to registered lobbyists in Kansas in May asking them to help sponsor the conference. The message, which was signed by Merrick, said that “A sponsorship is an excellent opportunity to educate our members on your platform, both during the conference and in the months leading up.”
The message said sponsorships could range from $5,000 to $100,000 and contributions could be made by a corporation, individual or political action committee.
Asked about the solicitation for money from lobbyists when the Legislature was still in session, Merrick’s staff cited an exemption in Kansas law that allows lawmakers to solicit money “for the benefit of any national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established for the purpose of serving, informing, educating and strengthening state legislatures in all states of the nation.”
ALEC has sometimes been criticized as a corporate bill mill. National Public Radio referred to it as a “dating service” for politicians and the nation’s biggest companies in a 2013 report. But some major tech companies, such as Google and eBay, have broken with the organization in recent years, contending that it has inhibited work to combat climate change.
The organization has helped craft and promote “stand your ground” laws, which have expanded gun rights, and “right to work” laws, which have lessened the power of unions.
ALEC is not the only conference that lawmakers attend to discuss legislation. Earlier this month, five lawmakers attended the Council of State Governments Midwest conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, registering through the state at a total cost of $1,975. Those lawmakers were Merrick; Powell; Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center; Rep. Sue Boldra, R-Hays; and Rep. Sue Concannon, R-Beloit.
Next month lawmakers from both parties will travel to Seattle to attend the National Conference of State Legislatures, which runs Aug. 3 through 6. The state is paying the registration fees for these seven lawmakers: Merrick; Rep. Les Osterman, R-Wichita; Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe; Rep. Bud Estes, R-Dodge City; Rep. Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington; Rep. Troy Waymaster, R-Luray; and Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence.
The total cost of their attendance is $3,909.
Groups Add to Evidence in "Whistleblower" Tax Fraud Claim Against ALEC -
Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy sent federal authorities new evidence today that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is falsely passing itself off as a tax-exempt charity and effectively using taxpayer dollars to subsidize its lobbying on behalf of private interests.
Common Cause filed a supplement to its three-year-old tax whistleblower complaint against ALEC, and the two groups sent a joint letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen demanding an investigation, collection of fines and back taxes, and the revocation of ALEC’s status as a tax-exempt charity. Supporting evidence available here.
"Our whistleblower complaint, which includes statements, letters and correspondence from ALEC member companies and previously undisclosed public records of ALEC’s lobbying activities, demonstrates beyond doubt that ALEC is – and always has been – a lobby, not a charity," said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport.
The filing comes on the heels of ALEC’s threat in March to file suit against Common Cause and two other groups that have criticized ALEC’s positions on climate change and telecom issues. "This whistleblower supplement is unrelated to our dispute with ALEC on climate issues," Rapoport said, "but I hope that with today’s filing ALEC gets the message that we will not be deterred from working to expose its activities."
The new trove of documents includes statements by 20 corporations that admit that they joined and maintained membership in ALEC to influence legislation and gain access to lawmakers. The corporate admissions included in the complaint are from Yelp, Pfizer, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Honeywell, Yahoo, eBay, Eli Lilly, Duke Energy, Altria, American Electric Power, Anheuser-Busch, BP, Chevron, Cox Communications, CSX Corporation, ExxonMobil, Overstock, and Peabody Energy. Several of those companies no longer are part of ALEC.
The new filing also includes the recent finding of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board that "ALEC’s primary purpose is the passage of state legislation in the various states and that all of its wide-ranging activities are in support of this primary purpose."
ALEC continues to deny that it is engaged in lobbying, submitting annual reports to the IRS with "$0" filled in on a line designated for the amount it spends on lobbying.
"Our powerful new evidence demonstrates that ALEC continues to operate as a 'corporate lobbying group masquerading as a charity,'" said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of PRWatch.org and ALECexposed.org. "Clearly, in their own words, many of the corporations that fund ALEC use it as a vehicle for their lobbying agenda."
"ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where corporate lobbyists pay for a seat and a vote as equals with legislators on model bills to benefit the legislative agenda of those very same special interests," Graves added. "Though ALEC claims that it is now a legislator-driven, bottom-up enterprise, our evidence shows that the corporations underwriting ALEC continue to drive its legislative priorities and do so to benefit their bottom lines. ALEC operates for the private gain of its corporate funders like a trade group, offering them one-stop shopping for lawmakers nationwide."
In response to the groups’ past exposure of its misreporting and illegal schemes, ALEC formed a lobbying arm, the Jeffersonian Project, in 2013; it also made some changes on its tax forms, and now admits responsibility for a "scholarship" fund used to finance legislator travel.
"ALEC tried to outsource some of its more obvious lobbying to the Jeffersonian Project, an entity that ALEC controls," said Eric Havian, an attorney representing Common Cause on the submission. "But hiding its lobbying behind a different corporate mask doesn’t absolve ALEC. ALEC still manages the most critical lobbying activities, such as hosting junkets to bring legislators and lobbyists together at posh resorts to strategize about how to pass favored legislation."
Today’s submission to the IRS is the third challenge Common Cause and CMD have made against ALEC for masquerading as a charity at taxpayer expense.
"It has been almost exactly three years since we uncovered ALEC’s tax misrepresentation and first reported it to the IRS," Rapoport said. "Three years later, the IRS Whistleblower Office has not taken action, despite its legal mandate to investigate complaints. Meanwhile, ALEC continues its secretive lobbying activities that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line."
The growing scandal surrounding ALEC’s tax status, secretive lobbying activities, and extremist agenda has led to an exodus of more than 100 corporations since 2011.
"The work of a robust national coalition has pushed more than 100 companies to dump ALEC," Graves said. "Other companies and elected officials should seriously reconsider sticking with a group that has misled and continues to mislead the public and the IRS about its true purpose."
Click here for a fact sheet on the submission.
As of April 2015, at least 103 corporations and 19 non-profits -- for a total of 120 private sector members -- have publicly announced that they cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC)
- Coca-Cola Company: Gave a statement to the Washington Examiner on April 4th, 2012 stating that it had "elected to discontinue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council" 
- Pepsi: Informed Color of Change in a letter dated January 25th, 2012 that they would not renew their membership in ALEC in 2012.
- Kraft: Announced in an email on April 6th, 2012 that "Our membership in ALEC expires this spring and for a number of reasons...we have made the decision not to renew." 
- Intuit: Told the Center for Media and Democracy on April 6th, 2012 that they did not renew their membership when it expired in 2011. 
- McDonald's: Initially defended its membership in ALEC  Announced on April 10th that they had made the decision to withdraw from ALEC at the end of March. 
- Wendy's: Sent an email to the Center for Media and Democracy on April 11th, 2012 confirming that it is no longer a member of ALEC 
- Mars: Sent an email to Color of Change on April 12th, 2012 stating that they had ended their membership with ALEC 
- Reed Elsevier: Told Reuters on April 12th, 2012 that they had withdrawn "after considering the broad range of criticism being leveled at ALEC," 
- American Traffic Solutions: Told the Arizona Capitol Times on April 13th, 2012 that they would not renew their ALEC membership. 
- Blue Cross Blue Shield: Announced on April 19th, 2012 that it had not renewed its membership in February 2012, but according to an ALEC document, "left after losing on exchanges workshop" and didn't terminate until April 4, 2013.
- YUM! Brands: Told Color of Change that they would not renew their membership on April 19th, 2012.
- Procter & Gamble: Told Color of Change that it would not renew its membership on April 20th, 2012.
- Kaplan: Wrote Republic Report on April 26th, 2012 to confirm that they were no longer a member of ALEC
- Scantron Corporation: Told CMD in May 2012 that it was no longer a member of ALEC.
- Amazon.com: Announced at a shareholder meeting on May 24, 2012 that it had decided not to renew its membership in ALEC this year.
- Medtronic: Medtronic did not renew its ALEC membership in 2011 or 2012, according to a spokesperson.
- Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart told Reuters on May 30, 2012 that it is suspending its ALEC membership because "we feel that the divide between these activities and our purpose as a business has become too wide," according to Wal-Mart vice president of public affairs and government relations and ALEC corporate board secretary Maggie Sans.
- Johnson & Johnson: A Johnson & Johnson spokesperson told CMD on June 12, 2012, "We have been in dialogue with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for some time, and while we acknowledge ALEC’s recent decision to focus only on innovation and growth-supporting policies, we have decided to suspend our participation and membership.”
- Dell Computers: Dell confirmed on June 21, 2012, that it would not be renewing its ALEC membership.
- John Deere & Company told ColorOfChange.org in July 2012 that it is leaving ALEC.
- CVS Caremark told ColorOfChange.org in July 2012 that it had discontinued its ALEC membership.
- MillerCoors told ColorOfChange.org in July 2012 that it had not renewed its ALEC membership in 2012, nor does it plan to.
- Hewlett-Packard (HP) told ColorOfChange.org in July 2012 that it is not currently an ALEC member.
- Best Buy told ColorOfChange.org in July 2012 that it had not renewed its ALEC membership in 2012.
- Express Scripts/Medco (two ALEC members that merged in April 2012) told the Center for Media and Democracy and ColorOfChange.org in July 2012 that it had dropped its ALEC membership. An August 2013 ALEC board document later suggested that it had not terminated its ALEC membership until January 14, 2013, "b/c of PBM issue."
- Connections Academy, which had been co-chair of ALEC's Education Task Force, told CMD in July 2012 that it withdrew from ALEC's Education Task Force in mid-May 2012 in order to align "our affiliations with organizations whose central focus is education."
- General Motors (GM), which had been a member of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force and its Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, told CMD in July 2012 that it had "decided to discontinue relations with ALEC at this time."
- Walgreens, which had been a member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force, told ColorOfChange.org in July 2012 that it "will not be renewing its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council."
- Louis Dreyfus, which sponsored ALEC's 2012 annual meeting, told CMD it had decided not to fund ALEC this year.
- Amgen, which was a member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force, announced its determination not to renew its ALEC membership on August 3 in response to a letter from a group of concerned shareholders and advocates led by Walden Asset Management and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
- General Electric (GE), which was a member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force as of March 2011, told ColorOfChange.org (CoC) that it decided not to renew its ALEC membership in July 2012.
- Western Union, which was a member of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force as of June 2011, told CoC that the company was only an ALEC member in 2011 and chose not to renew in May 2012.
- Sprint Nextel, which was a member of ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force in July 2011, told CoC in August 2012 that it did not renew its ALEC membership in 2012.
- Symantec, which was a member of ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force, told CoC in August 2012 that the company's membership expired June 2010 and was not renewed.
- Reckitt Benckiser Group, which was a member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force as of June 2011, told CoC in August 2012 that it is no longer an ALEC member.
- Entergy, which was a member of ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force as of June 2011, told Walden Asset Management in August 2012 that it did not renew its ALEC membership in 2012.
- Merck, which told the New Jersey Star-Ledger in September 2012 that it would not renew its ALEC membership after 2012.
- Sanofi, which confirmed to CMD that it was cutting ties to ALEC in October 2012.
- Bank of America, which told Walden Asset Management that it was cutting ties to ALEC in November 2012.
- WellPoint, which announced on March 1, 2013 that it had not attended an ALEC meeting nor supported ALEC financially since the summer of 2011 and has "no current plans to support ALEC or attend any of their meetings," but according to an August 2013 ALEC board document, terminated April 22, 2013 and was then "considering giving funds outside of membership."
- Bristol-Myers Squibb, which confirmed in March 2013 that it had not renewed its ALEC membership at the end of 2012.
- Brown-Forman Company, which confirmed in April 2013 that the company declined to renew its ALEC membership in 2012
- Publix Super Markets, which announced on June 24, 2013, via social media that it had "not been a member of ALEC since 2011."
- GlaxoSmithKline, whose CEO, Sir Andrew Witty, said in a response to a shareholder's question at the company's annual meeting in May 2013 that the company had decided to sever its relationship with ALEC
- Unilever, whose president, Kees Kruythoff, stated in a letter to shareholders sent earlier this year, "Unilever is not a member of ALEC following a review undertaken at the end of 2011. We took the decision that ALEC's agenda did not align with our business objectives and values focused on social, economic, and environmental sustainability, and withdrew as a member."
- ConocoPhillips spokesperson Daren Beaudo confirmed to CMD in June 2013 that the company is no longer a member of ALEC, did not fund ALEC in 2012, and has no plans to do so in 2013. In 2014, however, ConocoPhillips -- under the name of Phillips 66 -- was a "Director" level sponsor of the 2014 ALEC Annual Conference.
- Sallie Mae announced quietly in September 2013 that it had cut ties with ALEC, after a student-led campaign demanded its exit, gathering nearly 15,000 petition signatures in August.
- Visa told Boston Common Asset Management, which had been engaging with the company over the past year on lobbying disclosure, that it had dropped its ALEC membership in December 2013.
- Xcel Energy, the ALEC corporate state chair of Wisconsin as of August 2011, told the Boulder Weekly in January 2014 that it was a member of ALEC until 2011 and that it hadn't funded ALEC since 2010.
- Endo Pharmaceuticals, a member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force as of April 2012, announced that it had cut ties with ALEC in January 2014 after engagement with Trillium Asset Management
- 3M, an ALEC member in the late 1990s, stated as of a company corporate governance disclosure revised in May 2013, "3M has not been a member in groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)."
- Darden Restaurants, a member of ALEC's corporate board as of 2010, confirmed in April 2013 that the company cut ties with ALEC in January 2010 in order to allocate more resources to organizational connections like its involvement with the National Restaurant Association (which, like ALEC, has lobbied to override local paid sick day ordinances).
- IBM confirmed in June 2013 that it is no longer an ALEC member and does not "provide ALEC with any financial support, including financial support for their meetings."
- Intel, an ALEC funder in 2002, stated in June 2013 that it is not a member of ALEC and does not sponsor ALEC
- Nestlé USA Inc. was, according to a company spokesperson, "a low-tier member of ALEC during a several year span in the 1990s ending, as I recall, in 1999, but has "not been a member of ALEC since that time" and does "not foresee a circumstance where we would consider rejoining," as of May 2013.
- AstraZeneca, a member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force as well as state corporate co-chair of Delaware, confirmed in response to an April 2013 shareholder question that it decided not to renew its membership in ALEC's task force.
- Ameren, a sponsor of ALEC's 1998 annual meeting as well as of "Missouri Night" at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans during the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the company is not a member of ALEC in April 2014.
- Berkshire Hathaway Energy (formerly MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company), which had a long history of involvement with ALEC, having sponsored ALEC's 1998 annual meeting, confirmed to Greenpeace in May 2014 that it had cut ties to ALEC.
- PacifiCorp, a member of the ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, confirmed to Greenpeace in May 2014 that it had cut ties to ALEC.
- NV Energy, a member of the ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force as well as ALEC corporate co-chair of Nevada, confirmed to Greenpeace in May 2014 that it had cut ties to ALEC.
- Alliant Energy, which sponsored ALEC's 1998 annual meeting, confirmed to Greenpeace in May 2014 that it had cut ties to ALEC.
- The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), which funded ALEC in at least 2010 and earlier, confirmed to Greenpeace in May 2014 that it had cut ties to ALEC.
- Microsoft, a member of the ALEC Communications and Technology Task Force, confirmed that "in 2014 Microsoft decided to no longer participate in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Communications and Technology Task Force, which had been our only previous involvement with ALEC. With this decision, we no longer contribute any dues to ALEC" in an email to The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge and Walden Asset Management, which had engaged Microsoft over its affiliation with ALEC.
- Google , a member of the ALEC Communications and Technology Task Force, confirmed that it would not renew its ALEC membership at the end of 2014 after its chairman, Eric Schmidt, told NPR's Diane Rehm on September 22, 2014, "The consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we're trying to not do that in the future.... The company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts -- what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people -- they're just, they're just literally lying."
- Facebook, a member of the ALEC Communications and Technology Task Force, told the San Francisco Chronicle on September 23, 2014: “We re-evaluate our memberships on an annual basis and are in that process now. While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress so we are not likely to renew our membership in 2015.” 
- Yelp told Common Cause on September 24, 2014 that they are no longer part of ALEC. 
- Yahoo Inc. announced on September 24, 2014 -- after Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Yelp dropped ALEC that week and ALEC responded by saying that Google had left because of misinformation -- that it had dropped its membership of ALEC.
- International Paper told Common Cause September 26, 2014 that "we no longer have a membership with ALEC" and confirmed the company also no longer funds ALEC.
- Occidental Petroleum Corporation had "no plans to continue Occidental's membership in, or make further payments to, ALEC" as of September 29, 2014, according to the National Journal.
- News Corporation told Media Matters in response to an article published September 26, 2014 that the company is no longer a member of ALEC.
- Overstock.com terminated its ALEC membership in 2013, according to a spokesperson, but a spokesperson told The Guardian in December 2014, "Overstock.com did re-join Alec recently. Our relationship with Alec is based on the organization's access to lawmakers involved in the internet sales tax issue, which is a very weighty one for us."
- SAP America told German Magazine “Manager Magazin”, on November 5, 2014, that it was ceasing funding of ALEC because of “strange policies” around climate change, renewable energy, guns and voting rights. 
- AOL informed Common Cause on November 10, 2014 that it had stopped funding ALEC. 
- Emerson Electric Co. told Walden Asset Management that it had cut ties with ALEC in November 2014.
- Amerigroup told Common Cause that the company no longer participates in ALEC in November 2014.
- Wells Fargo, which was a member of ALEC in 2011, told CMD in September 2012 that it declined to renew its ALEC membership in 2012, then subsequently sponsored ALEC's 2013 Annual Meeting in Chicago, then told Common Cause in November 2014 that it is not a member or funder of ALEC.
- Union Pacific Corporation confirmed to Common Cause in November 2014 that the company is "not a member of ALEC and pays no annual dues to the organization".
- EZCorp (pawn shops and payday loans), told Common Cause that it is not a funder or member of ALEC as of November 2014
- eBay tweeted on December 18, 2014, "We are not renewing membership in ALEC."
- Northrop Grumman cut ties to ALEC in January 2015 thanks to shareholder engagement from the Fond du Lac, Wisconsin-based Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes.
- BP announced on March 23, 2015 that it was cutting ties with ALEC. A spokesperson told the National Review, "We continually assess our engagements with policy and advocacy organizations and based on our most recent assessment, we have determined that we can effectively pursue policy matters of current interest to BP without renewing our membership in ALEC."
- T-Mobile told Common Cause on April 8, 2015 that it had cut ties to ALEC.
- Allergan: told Common Cause on May 14, 2015 that it "is no longer an active member of ALEC."
An August 2013 ALEC board document released by The Guardian in December 2013 listed the following additional corporations as "LAPSED Members" of ALEC, with the accompanying "termination date," and any notes added by ALEC:
- Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, 1/14/2013
- Roche Diagnostics Corporation, 1/14/2013
- Ryan, Inc. (a tax services firm, member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force), 1/14/2013
- SICPA Product Security LLC (supplier of security inks for banknotes and other documents, such as cigarette excise stamps), member of ALEC's now-defunct [[Public Safety and Elections Task Force; terminated its membership on January 14, 2013 while "waiting to see what issues emerge in JPP [ALEC's Justice Performance Project, which replaced the Public Safety and Elections Task Force]; cigarette" (?).
- Taser International (member of ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force and Civil Justice Task Force), 1/14/2013
- Home Depot, Inc. (member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force, 1/14/2013
- AGL Resources, Inc. (natural gas company, member of ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force), "did not want to renew," 1/18/2013. However, AGL Resources lobbying filings in Georgia reported paying for legislators' meals at the Georgia General Assembly Delegation Dinner at an ALEC policy conference in May 2015.
- Academic Partnerships (an online higher education company, member of ALEC's Education Task Force), 3/18/2013
- Macquarie Capital USA (member of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force), 3/17/2013
- LoanMax (member of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force), "told us they do not want to renew" 3/19/2013
- McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP (law firm), 3/19/2013
- Coventry Health Care (member of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force and Health and Human Services Task Force), "joined for single issue," terminated 4/4/2013
- Bridgepoint Education (member of ALEC's Education Task Force), 4/16/2013
- Cintra US (member of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force), "will not renew" 4/16/2013
- Dr Pepper Snapple Group, 4/22/2013
- EMD Serono (member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force), "budget cuts" 4/22/2013
- Lowe's Companies, Inc. (home improvement chain, member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force), 4/22/2013
- Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals (member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force), "contact difficult to get a hold of; possibly did not renew because only interested in diabetes related issue" 4/22/2013
- UnitedHealth Group (member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force), "left along with BCBS" 4/22/2013
Trade Associations and Non-Profits
- Gates Foundation: Gates spokesman Chris Williams, while careful to note that Gates has never been a formal ALEC member, told Roll Call on April 9, 2012 that it does not plan to renew its financial support for ALEC's education initiatives. "We have made a single grant, narrowly and specifically focused on providing information to ALEC-affiliated state legislators on teacher effectiveness and school finance," said Williams.
- National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS): In an official statement sent to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) on May 1, 2012, NBPTS spokesperson Brian Lewis said, "Given recent events, the new NBPTS President and CEO decided to discontinue engagement with ALEC. As a result, NBPTS terminated its membership as an Education Task Force Member of ALEC effective April 18, 2012, and also withdrew from participating in the upcoming ALEC conference. . . . The decision to participate in ALEC had been made by previous NBPTS leadership."
- National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA): On May 14, 2012, NACSA issued a press release announcing that, "As part of our annual review processes, however, we determined that alternative strategies would be more effective in achieving these policy objectives. Thus we will not be renewing our membership in ALEC when it expires next month."
- Lumina Foundation for Education: A Lumina spokesperson told CMD on May 23, 2012, "Lumina Foundation last paid annual dues to ALEC on 10/08/10. No staff member was able to attend meetings in 2011. We decided not to renew our membership, because we were not participating."
- Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA): In December 2012, SEIA said in an email to supporters that it had joined ALEC earlier in 2012 to promote bipartisan energy policies, but had decided not to renew its membership. An August 2013 ALEC document noted that SEIA "left because their bill did not pas the task force."
- American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): In January 2013, AWEA dropped out of ALEC and warned state lawmakers not to be taken in by ALEC's message, one that AWEA spokesperson Peter Kelley toldGreenwire is driven by fossil fuel companies.
An August 2013 ALEC board document released by The Guardian in December 2013 listed the following additional trade groups and non-profits as "LAPSED Members" of ALEC, with the accompanying "termination date" listed in ALEC's spreadsheet, as well as any notes made by ALEC (NOTE: MANY OF THESE GROUPS SHARE IDEOLOGICAL AIMS WITH ALEC):
- American Council of Trustees & Alumni (member of ALEC's Education Task Force), 1/14/2013
- Associated Builders and Contractors (member of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force), 1/14/2013
- James Madison Institute (a member of the State Policy Network (SPN) and member of ALEC's Education Task Force and Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force), "former SPN members- SPN did not renew membership," 2/13/2013
- Commonwealth Institute (an SPN member and member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force), "former SPN members- would like to join again if can fit in budget," 3/9/2013
- Pioneer Institute (an SPN member and member of ALEC's Education Task Force and Health and Human Services Task Force), "kicked out of ALEC (?) because of education issue," 3/18/2013
- Center for Competitive Politics (SPN associate member and member of ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force), "JPP no longer works on issue," 3/19/2013
- Citizens Against Government Waste (SPN associate member and member of ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force and Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force), 4/12/2013
- AARP, 4/16/2013
- Bill of Rights Institute (member of ALEC's Education Task Force), 4/16/2013
- National Center for Policy Analysis (SPN associate member and member of ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force and Health and Human Services Task Force), "Budget cutbacks," 4/16/2013
- Doctor-Patient Medical Association (member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force), "unable to reach contact; history of being late on payments," 4/22/2013
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Campaign for Free Enterprise (member of ALEC's Education Task Force; NOTE: other U.S. Chamber of Commerce projects/subsidiaries remain members of ALEC), 4/22/2013
- John Locke Foundation (SPN member, member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and Education Task Force), "Former SPN members- would like to join again if can fit in budget," 5/11/2013
For Immediate Release:
For Immediate Release:
Bill Moyers’ “United States of ALEC” video to be presented at the Manhattan Public Library on July 15that 7:00 P.M.
Manhattan, Ks. July 1, 2015
The Moderate Party of Kansas, Women for Kansas, and the Mainstream Coalition, will sponsor a showing of Bill Moyers’“The United States of ALEC” video at the Manhattan Public Library, 629 Poyntz Ave on July 15th at 7:00 p.m. The video exposes the corruption of the legislative process by ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council) in state legislatures throughout the country.
Twenty four (24) ALEC inspired bills were introduced in the Kansas legislature during the past several years including passage of ALEC bills in 2015 affecting teacher’s due process, KPERS Pension reform, a public employee paycheck act (a union busting bill), and a corporate tax credit bill to reward families who are already financing their child’s education at private schools.
ALEC bills have been pushed through the Kansas legislature by House Speaker Ray Merrick and Senate President Susan Wagle with little discussion and input since both are members of the ALEC board of directors and collaborate closely withALEC’s organizational leaders.
During July, Merrick and Wagle will travel nearly 2,000 miles from Topeka to attend the annual ALEC meeting in San Diego and meet behind closed doors with corporate lobbyiststo approve ALEC written model bills for the 2016 legislative session without the public’s knowledge.
Leaders of the Kansas grassroots movement believe it is in the public’s best interest and an ideal time to expose the activities of ALEC while Merrick and Wagle are in California craftinglegislation favorable to corporate special interests.
Moyers’ video will show how ALEC takes away voter’s rights, shelters corporations from accountability, suppresses voter participation with false voter fraud propaganda, supports bills that benefit private school operators, protects polluters, promotes revenue starvation tactics to slash vital public programs, and undermines public systems and structures.
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.
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
"ALEC's corporate sponsors include Koch Industries with backup lobby support from the Kansas Policy Institute, Americans For Prosperity, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce..."
Most voters have no clue who ALEC is. No, it’s not a reference to ALEC Baldwin. It's the “American Legislative Exchange Council”, a lobby group disguised as a 501 c (3) non-profit organization that caters to special corporate interests by serving as a “corporate dating service”.
ALEC brings together corporate lobbyists and state legislators in a central location, like a fancy hotel, where they attend parities heavily subsidized by the same corporations that benefit from the introduction and passage of ALEC written bills the legislators take back to their home states.
ALEC legislative members receive ‘scholarships’ from corporate sponsors that amount to an all-expense paid vacation including families; so they can meet face-to-face with the donors to their political campaigns and vote together with these corporate sponsors to adopt model legislation, written to boost corporate profits.
Even though Kansas has strict rules for receiving lobbyist gifts, these lavish trips are disguised as "educational expenses." Thirty two Kansas House representatives and sixteen Kansas State senators are listed as members of ALEC.
What's even more alarming, the Speaker of the Kansas House, Ray Merrick, and the President of the Senate, Susan Wagle, are members of ALEC's board of directors which includes board scholar member Art Laffer, who received a $75,000 consulting fee for his ALEC model tax cutting bill that is now bankrupting our state.
During 2013-2014 fifteen (15) ALEC model bills were introduced in the Kansas Legislature including the controversial “Health Care Compact” Bill which included authority to take over the operation of Medicare by the Kansas legislature, using the block grant model that ALEC helped write.
The ALEC penned Health Care Compact bill which passed in Kansas, was killed in the U.S. House of Representatives. This Kansas approved Health Care Compact bill put more than 450,000 Kansas Medicare beneficiaries at risk and most Medicare folks had no idea the bill even passed.
Attempts were made to remove Medicare from the bill, but legislators learned it would require approval from the other eight states who joined with Kansas in the compact. This means our legislature's hands were tied because the bill was written by ALEC, using ALEC language in a cookie cutter bill that put ALEC in charge not allowing amendments to the bill leaving our elected officials standing on the sidelines not able to change a bill to represent the best interests of Medicare beneficiaries living in Kansans.
ALEC’s privatizing of Medicaid model now called KanCare was successful as Governor Brownback signed the ALEC Medicaid bill into law. KanCare has lost millions of dollars during its first two years of operation.
Now during a time when our state is facing the most serious financial crisis in its history, Speaker Merrick is allowing ALEC to write a letter on his behalf, as an ALEC host, to send out invitations to prospective corporate sponsors so the fun and games can be resumed in San Diego, California on July 22-24th.
Please open the attachment and read the letter sent from firstname.lastname@example.org using Rep. Ray Merick as the author of the email. Note Merrick's name was misspelled.
Mr. Merrick has agreed to be a member of the host committee, and lets the sponsor know he or she can give anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 to "educate our members on your platform, both during the conference and in the months ahead."
ALEC's corporate sponsors include Koch Industries with backup lobby support from the Kansas Policy Institute, Americans For Prosperity, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce who are strong advocates to block Medicaid Expansion, promote privatization of education and continue to support the tax exemption for pass through business owners even though our state's general budget is dealing with an $800 million gap between revenue and expenses as was recently reported in a May 20, 2015 news release by former Kansas budget director Duane Goossen, who now works for the Kansas Center for Economic Growth.
As a Kansas voter who cares about the future of our state, I am outraged that the top leadership within our legislature continues to embrace the ALEC legislative models for the future, when the current ALEC “Trickle Down” tax cut model has created the $800 million dollar GAP of lost revenue in our state general operating fund.
Recently former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, fumbled the ball when Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly asked him: “(On the subject of Iraq), knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? Bushsaid, “I would have.”
But after Bush was blasted by his opponents for his yes answer, he used his mulligan on the Sean Hannity show and said, “I interpreted the question wrong, I guess.”
A similar question is being asked throughout the state of Kansas. Only this question is not about Iraq. It’s about a revenue war being played out by Governor Brownback, the legislature and the Kansans left fearingthe worst if it is not resolved.
Here’s the question!
Knowing what we know now about our states’ $800 million dollar revenue shortfall and projected loss of $3.7 billion future tax dollars, would you have authorized the largest tax cut in the State’s history?
Governor Brownback continues to answer the question, “I would have.”
In spite of getting lawmakers to fill part of the gap by: transferring an additional $132 million from the highway fund, $72 million from other funds, and stopping a planned transfer of $54 million from the general-fund to a local government tax deduction fund, Duane Goossen, former budget director under three former Kansas governors said, “Most of those transfers are short-term solutions, not ongoing revenue, and if approved would lower the FY2016 gap to about $540 million.”
“In addition, lawmakers have been debating whether to increase the fee that managed care companies pay to operate in Kansas,” Goossen said. “Passage is still uncertain, but if implemented the proceeds would be used to draw down additional federal Medicaid funds and close the budget gap by another $60 million or so.”
But here’s an assumption that may not happen. Goossen said, “Then if $50 or $60 million carries over from FY2015, (a big if at this point), the “gap” would be a little over $400 million-the amount that lawmakers are trying to cover with new taxes.”
Kansans can anticipate dramatic cuts to social programs that make up more than 90 percent of the general-fund operating budget including 63 percent for education, 4.3 percent for transportation, 0.3% for Human Services and 27 percent for public safety.
Let’s review how we got in this mess. Who is behind it? And, what Kansans must do to get involved now.
How did we get in this mess?
Governor Brownback started the process by calling on the legislature to eliminate the income tax in his “State of the State” message during January of 2012.
The Kansas House of Representatives accommodated the Governor’s wishes and passed a bill cutting individual income tax rates and exempting pass-through business owner income from being taxed at all.
Former senate president, Steve Morris, sent the bill to his senate tax-committee. The supporters of the tax bill on the senate committee lobbied hard for the House bill’s passage. Ultimately, they prevailed. The senate tax-committee recommended what the House had passed with a few modifications.
Morris and senate moderates defeated the committee’s recommendation with a 20-20 vote. While presiding in the senate, Morris received a phone call from Governor Brownback.
Morris left the senate chamber to take the call in his office. Brownback told Morris this tax policy, as is, would bankrupt the state. Brownback went on to suggest that if Morris helped get the bill through the Senate, they would work together to fix it in the conference committee and pass a bill that didn’t bankrupt the state.
Morris hesitated at first, but told me it’s pretty hard for a Republican senate leader to say no to a Republican governor. Morris got the votes in the senate to reconsider and sent the bill back over to the House. In hindsight, Morris acknowledged that trusting the Governor and passing the tax bill was a huge mistake on his part.
Governor Brownback, however had a different plan than the one he committed to with Morris. The Governor went to the House Republican caucus and asked them to concur with what the senate had passed. This would bypass the need for a conference committee to reconcile the differences in the bills and all but ensure the fiscal nightmare the state faces today.
As the senate debated a more modest tax-cut approved by a conference committee; the House Republican Speaker, Mike O’Neal, brought up the tax bill for a vote. O’Neal received harsh criticism by other House Republicans for going against the rules of his own chamber to speed up passage of the bill.
To expedite passage of the bill, O’Neal used a parliamentary procedure to cut off debate including changes and explanations of votes. This must have seemed like a scene out of the popular TV series “House of Cards”, where actor, Frank Underwood, passed a bill using the same tactics in a fictional episode, which makes one wonder just how much truth is portrayed in the “House of Cards” series.
It became obvious, The House and governor didn’t want anything to do with Morris’s tax bill revision ideas.
During his plea to keep the House bill alive, Governor Brownback told Morris the bill would then go to a joint conference committee and become a law that all could agree on, which never happened.
“I believe he never intended to bring the bill to conference because he wanted to make a bold statement with his original intention to cut income taxes,” Morris said.
The House complied with the Governor’s request to concur and Brownback signed the bill into law during May of 2012.
Morris said, “The governor just flat out lied to us and stabbed us in the back.”
The Governor’s betrayal of Morris was the first shot fired across the bow to start a civil war within the Kansas Republican Party. The divide widened when Governor Brownback, with the help of dark money, purged 20 moderate Republicans during their primary elections in the fall of 2012.
Morris received the brunt of vicious false attacks from outside influences in his defeat with funds provided by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, American’s for Prosperity, and a now defunct group called KanPac (Kansans for a true Republican Majority).
O’Neal, retired from the legislature and was rewarded for his efforts when he was hired during September of 2012 to become President and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, a group who is a strong advocate for Governor Brownback’s aggressive income tax cut experiment.
Who continues to set the agenda based on their influence and power over the irrational Republican decision makers in the Kansas Legislature?
Almost all legislative bills and decisions have the stamp of one or more of the following groups:
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
ALEC is a corporate dating service organization who gathers once a year to bring together corporate leaders, lobbyists, and state and federal legislators to primarily influence legislation favorable to their corporate interests. Speaker of the House Ray Merrick and Senate president Susan Wagle are both on their board of directors.
Speaker Merrick, a member of the host committee for ALEC’s 42nd annual meeting to be held in San Diego during July, recently sent out a fund raising letter to seek gifts of $5,000 to $100,000 from corporate sponsors noting that sponsorships allow an opportunity to “educate legislative members on your platform.”
Merrick, (whose name was misspelled) said in his letter that “free market legislatures hold 68 chambers across the U.S.” ALEC continues to influence legislatures with model bills that promote free market solutions including their strategy to torpedo Obama Care by blocking the expansion of Medicaid.
Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries are among ALEC’s most influential corporate donors.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP)
This is a Koch brothers’ funded operation with a motto to “leave our children with more financial security by putting brakes on government spending.” AFP has pushed hard for income tax cuts and to stop the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas.
State director, Jeff Glendening, called the exemption for LLC’s (Limited Liability Companies) a great move to bring in small businesses. He also said, “Americans for Prosperity hopes the state marches on to a zero income tax for all businesses and individuals.”
Kansas Policy Institute (KPI)
Dave Trabert, the primary lobbyist for the group opposes government spending and works closely with ALEC. Trabert speaks for the Friedman Foundation in promoting private educational choices. KPI supported the income tax cuts and opposes the expansion of Medicaid.
Kansas Chamber of Commerce
This organization supported the aggressive tax cut legislation and opposes the expansion of Medicaid. President and CEO, Mike O’Neal, believes more tax cuts are in order.
Democratic House member, Jarrod Ousley, of Merriam, told me, “These four groups stifle discussion on budget matters, and all issues that come before the legislature are decided by one or more of the groups.”
What can citizens do to restore fiscal responsibility in the Legislature?
1. Ban legislators from lobbying for a period of time after leaving office.
- a. Pass anti-corruption laws that prohibit lawmakers from receiving money from those companies or organizations they represent.
2. Get more transparency in governing by allowing debate and input.
- a. Install cameras and live-streaming capabilities into the statehouse chamber and committee meetings.
- b. Stop Gut and Go tactics because theystifle honesty and eliminate debate. House bill 2258 began as a non-controversial mortgage definition which passed 121-0, but was gutted in the senate and used as a shell to insert new Medicaid rules including a controversial $25 limit per day on an ATM withdrawals, which may now cost the state $102 million in federal block grant money because it limits access to benefits and requires recipients to pay frequent withdrawal fees.
- c. Moderate Republican, Rep. Mellissa Rooker, from Fairway, explained in her newsletter, the bill was debated for six hours on the senate floor with many amendments added, and passed 30-10 at 2:30 p.m. on April 2nd. One hour later it was up for a motion on the House floor with no opportunity to amend or time to read its contents since the original House version was not open for debate, just an up and down vote.
Governor Brownback’s dramatic income tax cutexperiment has created a severe revenue crisis that willaffect the quality of life for millions of Kansans. Removing moderate Republicans from the legislature using sleazy campaign tactics, has caused dissention, lack of trust, and a breakdown in compromise opportunities.
Legislation continues to be influenced by special interest groups without regard to the wishes of the majority of Kansas citizens. Not expanding Medicaid is an example.
Solving the revenue issue remains a stalemate because nine Republican House members and eleven Republican senate members signed pledges to oppose tax increases at any cost.
This means disastrous budget cuts will occur with terrible consequences for education, governmental services and the future viability of the state.
Citizens need to rally, get involved and become informed as to which legislators represent what is best for all Kansans rather than bending to the wishes of special interest- groups, and then vote accordingly in the 2016 statewide elections.
Larry Weigel, founder of a national Medicare consulting business lives in Manhattan, KS and believes Kansans must become involved in the political process to make the necessary changes in the radical leadership within the Kansas legislature by participating in a grassroots statewide effort.
The Kansas August primary election voter turn-out was around 20%. General elections have greater turn-out, perhaps 40-50%. Local elections typically draw only 5 to 10 percent of registered voters. Regardless of the election locale, the participation rate is abysmal. Representative democracy depends on an informed citizenry exercising its franchise to select the members of legislative bodies and executive offices. Low participation rates cause the election of legislators who may or may not represent the majority. To fix this short-coming in our system of governance requires that we understand the reasons for low participation rates, and doing so, that we be guided to make changes that obtain the highest possible voter turn-out.
A listing of several reasons people fail to vote, even after becoming registered to vote, follows. The reasons are cited as a Problem, along with a possible Solution. Although solutions may be devised to cause a non-voter become a voter, the solution will work only if the non-voter is willing to become a voter. There is no order of prevalence in the listing of voting problems, because I have no empirical data to rank them. If you have ideas about the causes for not voting and the possible solutions to encourage voting, please comment. I have reached my limit for both.
1. Problem: Too busy. On election days, activities such as: work during polling hours, child and/or invalid care, unexpected or emergency travel, etc., take precedence over a trip to the polls.
Solution: Weekend voting and regular advance voting would help reduce this excuse for not voting. Signing up as an advance voter for all elections would eliminate having to select this option for each election. Keeping the polls open over a weekend would reduce voting interferences.
2. Problem: Don’t care. Voters feel candidates or issues are not sufficiently different to affect their lives. Thus, no compelling reason exists to warrant the effort to vote.
Solution: Require each candidate to file a statement as to their position on various issues selected by a citizen’s panel. The statements would appear on the ballot in some form, helping to differentiate between candidates.
3. Problem: Forgetfulness. Every day in the lives of these non-voters is pretty much the same. An election day is overlooked, because it is not significant enough to change their routine.
Solution: Frequent public service announcements (PSAs) by the media would heighten awareness that an election day is occurring.
4. Problem: Lack of mobility. Lacking transportation or not being ambulatory can prevent elderly, handicapped or impoverished persons from voting.
Solution: Develop a non-partisan program to give voters lacking mobility the opportunity to vote. This could include public buses, school buses, volunteers, and other transportation service providers.
5. Problem: Self-deprecation. A citizen may feel that his or her opinion doesn’t count as much as the opinions of others whom they view as better informed and capable of making a wiser choice.
Solution: PSAs stressing the civic duty of voting and the egalitarian aspects of a democratic electoral system may raise the self-esteem of persons, causing them to exercise their voting rights.
6. Problem: Rationalization. A voter may justify not voting by assuming that those who do vote are representative of all voters and the outcome will express the majority’s viewpoint.
Solution: Voters may confuse pre-election polls that use random sampling of the voting population with the actual election where the population sample is not random, but self-selected. A self-selected sample of voters only becomes representative of the population when the number of voters closely approaches or equals the number of registered voters. Educating voters of the importance of a high voter turn-out to insure that the will of the majority is expressed is necessary and should occur in school curricula.
7. Problem: Apathy. For various reasons, which may include depression, ennui, fatalism, etc., the potential voter has no interest in the selection of his or her elected representative and does not vote.
Solution: Good mental health services may reduce some of the mental inertia that deters voting. Apathy is probably the most difficult non-voting problem to solve, but may be reduced by the effect of other solutions to the non-voting problem.
8. Problem: Intellectual Rebellion. The non-voter, dissatisfied with the political system and its results, expresses opposition by not voting, preferring to stay intellectually aloof from the fray.
Solution: Achieving a higher rate of voter turn-out would produce better results from our system of representative democracy and would lessen the prevalence of this objection to voting.
Maximum voter participation is the basis of a successful representative democracy. Understanding this gives one the proper framework to evaluate the damage to our democracy from the efforts of conservative extremists at voter suppression in all its forms. I firmly believe that higher voter turn-out would drive out these anti-democratic legislators and provide legislators who would use common sense to preserve our democracy.
Fact Check – PAC Ads for Brownback
Ads appearing on television and Facebook to promote the re-election of Sam Brownback claim he is responsible for either “600+ new certified teachers in our classrooms” or 680 new teachers, including 281 special education teachers state-wide. I queried Kelly Arnold of the Kansas Republican Party about the ads. I was thankful for a courteous, prompt answer in which he replied, “I might not be the best source on this as the ad is from a PAC and not from the party. I look at this as 600+ new teacher positions have been created in Kansas and classrooms would be K-12 public schools.”Therefore, without contacting the PACs, I decided to use the Kansas State Department of Education web site to fact check the claims in the ads.Read more