Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, January 23, 2012

ALEC Accountability Bill -- HB2665 UPDATED 12:30pm MST, Jan 24, 2012

Here's some model legislation for you, business lobbyists (and 99 percent-ers)!

Arizona state Rep. Steve Farley (D-LD28) said today:
“This bill keeps our elected officials in line and focused on getting results for Arizona’s families, not for special interests,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley, the sponsor of the bill. “It’s high time that transparency becomes a priority down here, and lawmakers work to get the job done, not carry the water for out-of-state corporations.”
The bill is one of the first to come out of Democratic lawmakers’ 2012 plan to move Arizona forward and leave the Tea Party’s extremism and divisiveness behind.
The ALEC Accountability Act works to change a long-standing, back-door system of lobbyist-funded scholarships that pay for lawmaker participation in conferences with ideological agendas and provide fancy accommodations, upscale dining and entertainment "networking" opportunities in cities around the country.
Translating that last paragraph, right now ALEC members are smoozed, wined and dined and expected to push the agenda when they get back to their home states.

For the annual financial disclosure required of lawmakers (actually, all public officers for whom ARS 38-542 applies), the following (one of several provisions) will apply when this bill is enacted:
11.  A description of any benefit received by the public officer or any member of the household of the public officer or relatives of the public officer to the second degree of consanguinity if the benefit is in the form of travel, lodging or registration fees related to a conference, meeting or other event, without regard to whether denominated a scholarship, a reduced rate or a full or partial reimbursement.  The description of the benefit received shall itemize the specific dollar amount of the benefit received and may not be reported in a category range as prescribed in subsection b of this section.  There is no minimum amount and this paragraph applies to any benefit in the form of travel, lodging or registration fees.  The description shall also separately itemize the benefit received in the form of travel, lodging and registration, and shall disclose the name and address of the donor or payor of each benefit. 
In plain English, this means that lawmakers, members of their own household and other relatives (including grandparents, offspring, aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins) must report ANY and ALL benefit, itemized with the specific dollar amount, all such benefit more than ZERO must be reported.

Typically, whenever there has been a proposed complete ban on gifts from lobbyists, lawmakers have weaseled their way out of it with various and sundry rationalizations, whining about it until the media has given up and went on to the next thing that needed to be covered or reported on.

So much so that this bill has already elicited a defeatist reaction from some. These days, observers may be prone to lay blame for the expected refusal to enact this law on the GOP supermajority in the state legislature. That is both true and not so true. In general, whichever party is in power is prone to abuse of that power.

But in this case, ALEC is a Republican/conservative institution. The reporting requirements in this bill will also apply for those lawmakers receiving "scholarships" to conferences conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments.

The difference between ALEC and NCSL/CSG is that ALEC lobbies and does so on behalf of Big Business.

To one such comment this evening, I replied,
It's not about being optimistic or pessimistic. It's about advocating, asserting, doing what's right... However, pessimism leads to a defeatist attitude. Defeatist attitudes become self-fulfilling. That's not what I'm about.
So, here's what could become the beginning of an action plan (for YOU):

  • Call your state representative (if you do not know who that is, check here. There's a box to search your address for which district you live in). Then find the phone number and email address of your TWO state reps here. Tell (call and email) them to support and vote for HB2665. Don't ask, assert. Politely but firmly.
  • Tell your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers about HB2665 and ask them to do the same.
  • Write letters to editors of newspapers throughout Arizona.
  • Come up with other (lawful) ideas for calling attention to the issue, the ALEC and to the bill.
Kudos to Steve Farley for pushing HB2665.

And much thanks to Lisa Hoffman. Her interest and research on ALEC has been invaluable and will make a HUGE difference for Arizonans especially for those advocating before the state legislature this year for the rights of everyday citizens (as opposed to "Citizens United" type corporate "persons").

By the way, at his press briefing this morning for the bill, one reporter asked him if he would be running for Congress to take the seat being vacated this week by Gabby Giffords. Farley responded that he intends to run for state senate this fall, but if he is asked by Giffords to run, he would find it difficult to refuse.


UPDATE -- Jan 24, 2012

A couple more resources to look at for further insight on ALEC:

1 comment:

  1. They also need a bill that spells out who the actual authors of proposed bills really are and to name any organization that provided a "template" for a particular proposed bill.