Wisconsin Democracy Campaign: A bill to shine a light on ALEC

Contact: Matt Rothschild
Executive Director,
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
W: (608) 255-4260
C: (608) 695-7368

Democratic lawmakers are circulating a proposal that would require the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to be more transparent about its activities involving Wisconsin GOP lawmakers.

ALEC was created in the 1970s to unite powerful business interests with conservative state legislators around the country. They meet to develop “model legislation” that state policymakers can tweak and introduce in their home states. The legislation developed by ALEC hits a range of issues, like taxes, privatizing government services and programs, health care, environmental deregulation, tort reform, guns, and voter ID.

Since 2006, between two and three dozen Wisconsin lawmakers have been members of ALEC or attended ALEC conferences, according to the Center for Media and Democracy. And since 2011, at least three dozen bills or state budget provisions approved by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker were based on ALEC model legislation, according to the group.

The transparency measure sponsored by Rep. Chris Taylor, of Madison, would require ALEC and groups like it to:

Register with the state as a lobbying group if they create so-called model legislation or influence state legislative action;

Disclose information about so-called scholarships they provide to legislative members to attend conferences. That information would have to be disclosed within 90 days and identify the legislators, legislative staff, and other state officials who received the funds, along with the names of the corporations or individuals that fund the scholarships.

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