Copy, Paste, Legislate

Source: Center for Public Integrity, 2019

How special interest groups achieve their goals by enlisting friendly lawmakers to quietly push ‘model legislation’ in statehouses nationwide.

Articles include:
They copied bills from corporations. These lawmakers say that’s OK.
Source: Matt Wynn, James Sergent, Aamer Madhani, Center for Public Integrity, July 18, 2019

Legislators agreed to carry copycat bills handed to them by companies, lobbyists and special interests seeking to write states’ laws in bulk.

The network behind state bills ‘countering’ Sharia law and terrorism
Source: Center for Public Integrity, July 18, 2019

For anti-abortion activists, success of ‘heartbeat’ bills was 10 years in the making
Source: Center for Public Integrity, June 20, 2019

Women’s rights fighters take a page from the anti-abortion playbook
Source: Center for Public Integrity, June 20, 2019

Adoption centers: the latest battleground for religious freedom
Source: Center for Public Integrity, June 10, 2019

Copy, Paste, Legislate: You elected them to write new laws. They’re letting corporations do it instead.
An investigation by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity
Soure: Rob O’Dell, and Nick Penzenstadler, USA TODAY, June 19, 2019

….USA TODAY and the Republic found at least 10,000 bills almost entirely copied from model legislation were introduced nationwide in the past eight years, and more than 2,100 of those bills were signed into law. The investigation examined nearly 1 million bills in all 50 states and Congress using a computer algorithm developed to detect similarities in language. That search – powered by the equivalent of 150 computers that ran nonstop for months – compared known model legislation with bills introduced by lawmakers. The phenomenon of copycat legislation is far larger. In a separate analysis, the Center for Public Integrity identified tens of thousands of bills with identical phrases, then traced the origins of that language in dozens of those bills across the country…..

• Models are drafted with deceptive titles and descriptions to disguise their true intent. The Asbestos Transparency Act didn’t help people exposed to asbestos. It was written by corporations who wanted to make it harder for victims to recoup money. The “HOPE Act,” introduced in nine states, was written by a conservative advocacy group to make it more difficult for people to get food stamps.

• Special interests sometimes work to create the illusion of expert endorsements, public consensus or grassroots support. One man testified as an expert in 13 states to support a bill that makes it more difficult to sue for asbestos exposure. In several states, lawmakers weren’t told that he was a member of the organization that wrote the model legislation on behalf of the asbestos industry, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

• Bills copied from model legislation have been used to override the will of local voters and their elected leaders. Cities and counties have raised their minimum wage, banned plastic bags and destroyed seized guns, only to have industry groups that oppose such measures make them illegal with model bills passed in state legislatures. Among them: Airbnb has supported the conservative Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, which pushed model bills to strike down local laws limiting short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods in four states.

• Industry groups have had extraordinary success pushing copycat bills that benefit themselves. More than 4,000 such measures were introduced during the period analyzed by USA TODAY/Arizona Republic. One that passed in Wisconsin limited pain-and-suffering compensation for injured nursing-home residents, restricting payouts to lost wages, which the elderly residents don’t have…..