The Washington Post

Conservative national group pushes agenda in Va., according to study

Last week, we told you about a soon-to-be-released study that outlines more than 50 bills in Virginia that have been pushed by a conservative group that ghostwrites bills for legislators across the country.

On Monday, the liberal group Progress VA released the report and urged Virginians to send letters to lawmakers opposing the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

ALEC has seen seven of its bills passed by the General Assembly, including proposals on education, taxes and health care, according to the study. One of the resulting laws laid the groundwork for Virginia’s legal challenge of the federal health-care law passed in 2010.

In many instances, the bills are identical to model legislation written by ALEC, a pro-business, free-market group whose members include legislators as well as private companies, which pay thousands of dollars to have a seat at the table.

At least 115 current or former members of the Virginia General Assembly have ties to ALEC, either for sponsoring bills, attending conferences or paying membership dues, according to the Progress VA study.

“Simply put, a secretive, corporate front group is writing Virginia’s laws,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA. “Our legislators were elected to represent Virginia families, not corporate bottom lines. Legislators who kowtow to a corporate agenda are nothing new in Virginia, but secretly copying and pasting legislation from corporate lobbyists is a step too far.”

ALEC officials did not respond to messages seeking comment. In a statement responding to another study this summer, ALEC said it is a nonpartisan group with members from legislatures, nonprofit organizations and the corporate world that promotes economic growth, fiscal responsibility and individual liberty.

Read more about ALEC’s influence in Virginia.



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