Some folks are wise and some are otherwise. -Tobias Smollett
Question #91544 posted on 08/11/2018 1:23 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Are you familiar with ALEC? What are your thoughts and feelings on this "Council" between private sector 'representatives' and state legislators? Are they controlling our life by letting the Rich and Powerful write the bills to benefit themselves (as Ava DuVernay suggests implicitly in her documentary 13th), or are they just helping out by forming a massive think-tank of successful business people?

Additionally, could you find why major names like Google, Amazon, HP, etc. have cut ties with ALEC in recent years?



Dear Guesthouse,

For those not familiar with ALEC, it is an organization where state legislators and representative from large corporations get together to discuss ideas for legislation and write model bills. ALEC has been around since 1973 and about 200 bills based off ALEC models become law every year (Thanks Wikipedia).

There are two trains of thought. The first is that ALEC allows successful and informed members of society to help lawmakers create legislation that makes sense. It also allows state legislators from different areas the chance to talk with each other and compare notes about their different states. To me, in principle, I like the idea that our legislators are talking people from different areas of expertise to help write good laws.

The other train of thought, is that this allows powerful corporations to control the government and gain influence and power. While corporate representatives meeting with lawmakers isn't illegal, it still is a little disconcerting. There's a difference between a citizen writing a letter to congressman or calling his senator's office, and the owner of a large corporation with conflicts of interest helping write the laws that directly affect the success of their business. Personally, I don't think that the "Rich and Powerful" are taking over the government or conspiring to control our lives, but I am concerned that many states pass laws that are word for word the same. I think that if they were just talking about principles that it would be fine, but I think that the corporations actually writing the laws crosses a line.

The major reason why big companies have cut ties with ALEC in recent years has been due to protests. Some ALEC laws that have drawn fire in recent year have been "stand your ground" laws, tougher voter ID laws, and laws that described environmental protesters as terrorists. (This article describes some of the protests). Potential backlash from customers is what has driven most of these corporations away from ALEC. Anyways, hope this helps!