Report: Among Florida Lawmakers, ALEC’s Influence Runs Deep

State Sens. Ronda Storms and Mike Fasano were included in a list of Florida lawmakers with connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC. (Photo courtesy of Florida Senate.)

By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

A coalition of progressive groups have released a new report documenting the extent of a conservative group’s influence over our lawmakers in Tallahassee.

The report chronicles all the ways in which the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC, has influenced public policy in the GOP-led Florida Legislature.

Compiled by Progress Florida, Florida Watch, People For the American Way, Center For Media and Democracy and Common Cause, the report comes as state legislators from all over the country — including many from Florida — gather in Salt Lake City to attend the group’s annual conference.

According to the report:

ALEC is a corporate‐funded entity that helps corporations get special interest and corporate‐written legislation passed into law. When legislators in multiple states introduce similar or identical bills to boost corporate power and profits, undermine workers’ rights, limit corporate accountability for pollution or harm to Americans, privatize public education, or restrict voting rights, the odds are good that such legislation was written by corporate lobbyists working through ALEC.

ALEC’s major funders and corporate leaders include Exxon Mobil, Altria, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, PhRMA, Peabody Energy and State Farm Insurance, among dozens of others. Over 98 percent of ALEC’s $7 million in revenue a year comes from corporations, special interests, and sources other than legislative dues (which run $50 per year for legislators).

ALEC is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists ostensibly to promote “limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.” Founded in 1973, the self‐described association is, in its own words, a “far‐reaching national network of state legislators that … affects all levels of government. No organization in America today can claim as many valuable assets … that have influence on as many key decision‐making centers.”

While its difficult to get a complete list of ALEC’s members in the Legislature — the group doesn’t publicly release a list — the report  put together a long list of lawmakers that have at least attended a conference. Some pay dues to the organization.

Here is their list:

Sen. Michael Bennett (R‐21)
Sen. Larcenia J. Bullard (D‐39)
Sen. Lee Constantine (R‐22)
Sen. Nancy C. Detert (R‐23)
Sen. Mike Fasano (R‐11)
Sen. Anitere Flores (R‐38)
Sen. Rene Garcia (R‐40)
Sen. Mike Haridopolos (R‐26)
Sen. Alan Hays (R‐25)
Sen. Dennis Jones (R‐13)
Sen. Garrett Richter (R‐37)
Sen. David Simmons (R‐22)
Sen. Ronda Storms (R‐10)
Rep. Larry Ahern (R‐51)
Rep. Ben Albritton (R‐66)
Rep. Frank Artiles (R‐119)
Rep. Dennis Baxley (R‐24)
Rep. Michael Bileca (R‐117)
Rep. Jeff Brandes (R‐52)
Rep. Jason Brodeur (R‐33)
Rep. Rachel Burgin (R‐56)
Rep. Matt Caldwell (R‐73)
Rep. Dean Cannon (R‐35)
Rep. Richard Corcoran (R‐45)
Rep. Fred Costello (R‐26)
Rep. Steve Crisafulli (R‐32)
Rep. Daniel Davis (R‐13)
Rep. Jose Diaz (R‐115)
Rep. Chris Dorworth (R‐34)
Rep. Brad Drake (R‐5)
Rep. Anitere Flores (R‐114)
Rep. Clay Ford (R‐3)
Rep. James C. Frishe (R‐54)
Rep. Rich Glorioso (R‐62)
Rep. Eduardo Gonzalez (R‐102)
Rep. Denise Grimsley (R‐77)
Rep. Gayle Harrell (R‐81)
Rep. Doug Holder (R‐70)
Rep. Mike Horner (R‐79)
Rep. Matt Hudson (R‐101)
Rep. Clay Ingram (R‐2)
Rep. Paige Kreegel (R‐72)
Rep. John Legg (R‐46)
Rep. Ana Rivas Logan (R‐114)
Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R‐80)
Rep. Charles McBurney (R‐16)
Rep. Peter Nehr (R‐48)
Rep. Bryan Nelson (R‐38)
Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R‐112)
Rep. Jimmy T. Patronis, Jr. (R‐6)
Rep. Ray Pilon (R‐69)
Rep. Scott Plakon (R‐37)
Rep. Stephen L. Precourt (R‐41)
Rep. Lake Ray (R‐17)
Rep. Ron Saunders (D‐120)
Rep. Kelli Stargel (R‐64)
Rep. John Tobia (R‐31)
Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R‐116)
Rep. Will Weatherford (R‐61)
Rep. John Wood (R‐65)
Rep. Dana Young (R‐57)

According to the same report, here are some bills that have been introduced in the Legislature through the years that are pieces of model Legislation from ALEC:

NO SANCTUARY CITIES FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ACT, Florida Legislation: SB 1896

FAIR AND LEGAL EMPLOYMENT ACT, Florida Legislation: HB 691 / SB 518

VIRTUAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS ACT, Florida Legislation: SB 1620 / HB 7197

PARENT TRIGGER ACT, Florida Legislation: HB 1191

GREAT TEACHERS AND LEADERS ACT, Florida Legislation: HB 7019

FREEDOM OF CHOICE IN HEALTH CARE ACT, Florida Legislation: SJR 2

HEALTH CARE CHOICE ACT FOR STATES, Florida Legislation: HB 1117

THE CASTLE DOCTRINE ACT, Florida Legislation: SB 436

MODEL LEGISLATION – UNKNOWN, Florida Legislation: HM 685

PROHIBITION OF NEGATIVE CHECK‐OFF ACT, POLITICAL FUNDING REFORM ACT, Florida Legislation: HB 1021

PRIVATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES ACT, PRISON INDUSTRIES ACT, Florida Legislation: SB 2038 & Florida Statutes

Many of these bills are now law in Florida.

The “FREEDOM OF CHOICE IN HEALTH CARE ACT” is set to appear on the 2012 ballot in November as a constitutional amendment. It will require a two-thirds popular vote before becoming part of the Florida Constitution.

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