Under the Dome

ALEC comes to Charlotte to craft model legislation

The American Legislative Exchange Council will be in Charlotte on Friday for its spring task force meeting, where “model legislation” is considered for promotion in states across the country. ALEC brings together corporate interest and state legislators to craft free-market, conservative bills behind closed doors.

It has faced mounting criticism over the past year, as public interest groups obtained voluminous documents showing how ALEC influences the nation’s lawmakers. North Carolina has longtime ties to the organization through its Republican lawmakers and corporations such as Reynolds American and GlaxoSmithKline. House Speaker Thom Tillis was named one of its legislators of the year in 2011.

Last month ALEC disbanded its public safety task force in the wake of criticism over its promotion of stand-your-ground gun laws, following the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Several corporations pulled out of the organization as a result.

Eight other task forces are meeting in Charlotte. Common Cause has obtained and posted agendas for the meetings online. Here’s a sampling of model laws they’re considering:

Restricting state attorney generals’ ability to enforce regulatory laws, doing away with requiring energy companies to pursue renewable energy resources, promoting nuclear power, giving states the authority to collect sales tax on retailers without a physical presence in the state, giving tax credits of up to 75 percent of tax liability for providing health care for the uninsured, privatizing Medicaid, and weakening public employee unions.

The liberal Progress North Carolina sent out a statement this afternoon calling on state legislators who serve on the education task force to abandon it because of its heavy promotion of charter schools and private school vouchers. The group says it knows of four legislators on the task force: Rep. Bryan Holloway, Rep. Linda Johnson and Sen. Tom Apodaca, all Republicans. Sen. Don Vaughan was a member until he resigned last week because he is running for chairman of the state Democratic Party.

Rep. Tom Murry, a Republican from Morrisville who is also a pharmacist, will speak on a panel about diabetes, along with a representative of the drug maker Novo Nordisk.

Tillis’ spokesman said today that the speaker of the House will not be attending. The meeting comes just days before the General Assembly's short session begins.

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