Source: Molly Jackman, Brookings Institution, December 6, 2013
What ALEC does during its closed-door meetings is largely a mystery. This week, ALEC opened its doors to the Washington media – who quickly found the most important doors slamming in their faces. Not only are their meetings private, but so too are their legislative successes and failures. Specifically, we do not know where ALEC’s model bills inspired the introduction and passage of new legislation. In other words, ALEC could have a tremendous influence over lawmaking in the American states, or it could have none at all – we just don’t know.
The goal of this article is to begin to fill the gap in our knowledge. Given the pervasive gridlock in Congress, key legislative change is occurring predominantly in the states. It is, then, all the more important to know who is affecting which bills are introduced in the state legislatures, and which bills pass. Using text analysis, I find where bills based on ALEC model legislation are introduced in the statehouses during the 2011-2012 session and track their progress in the legislative process.
My findings are threefold. First, ALEC model bills are, word-for-word, introduced in our state legislatures at a non-trivial rate. Second, they have a good chance – better than most legislation – of being enacted into law. Finally, the bills that pass are most often linked to controversial social and economic issues. In the end, I argue that this is not good for ALEC, its corporate partners, or for the democratic process. …
ALEC & State Legislation: Who, What & Where
Source: Molly Jackman, Brookings Institution, blog post, December 12, 2013
…Over the next few months, I look forward to digging deeper into these new data to answer the variety of questions that they raise – some of which have already been brought to my attention through email and social media. Today, I’ll start by addressing one posed by Alexander Furnas of the Sunlight Foundation via Twitter. One of the findings I reported was that 10% of the bills in my sample were sponsored by Democrats – a surprising result given ALEC’s strongly conservative ideology. Mr. Furnas asked me to describe the subjects of those bills.
In total, Democrats introduced 11 bills that resembled ALEC model legislation. Importantly, despite the fact that nearly 10% of ALEC bills introduced in the states passed, none of the bills that Democrats sponsored even made it to a floor vote….