ALEC’s Firm Hold on the Arizona Legislature

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  • Dale Eisman

New Report Documents Influence of American Legislative Exchange Council in Phoenix

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a key voice for corporate special interests in state legislatures across the county, is welcomed with an especially warm embrace in Arizona, according to a new reported released today by People For the American Way Foundation and Common Cause. With one of the highest concentrations of ALEC legislators of any state in the United States, Arizona lawmakers are working hand-in-hand with corporate leaders who make up ALEC’s membership to deregulate specific industries, privatize education and dismantle unions, the report found.

The report, ALEC in Arizona: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in the Halls of Arizona’s Legislature, is available here.

“Working side-by-side with elected officials, ALEC uses its resources to shepherd legislation from the corporate boardroom to the governor’s desk,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way Foundation. “There’s no way ordinary citizens can match the level of access and influence that ALEC provides to these corporations, so Arizonans are subjected to laws that serve the interests of the rich and powerful instead of everyday people. The deck is stacked against ordinary Americans and there’s a tremendous amount of work to do to level the playing field.”

“This side-by-side analysis of bills is a stunning look at the vast amount of influence that corporations are having in Arizona public policy,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “These companies are putting their muscle behind legislation in Phoenix and investing millions of dollars to elect and re-elect lawmakers who support it. It’s no wonder Arizonans feel like their voices aren’t being heard.”

The report demonstrates ALEC’s policymaking influence with a side-by-side comparison of some 20 ALEC “model” bills and actual Arizona legislation, including:

– Draconian anti-immigrant measures that criminalize undocumented workers and penalize their employers, strip native-born Americans of their citizenship rights and require that all publications and materials disseminated by state agencies be written in English only;

– Measures encouraging the privatization of state prisons to the benefit of the private prison industry;

– Voter suppression bills that potentially disenfranchise tens of thousands of Arizonans;

– Attacks on workers by undermining unions and collective bargaining and eliminating public employment through outsourcing and privatizing of government functions;

– Attacks on public education through private school voucher programs;

– Measures to prevent implementation of healthcare reform, and

– Attacks on federal environmental regulation by attempting to deny the federal government the ability to supersede weak state environmental legislation.