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Where Do Ideas for Legislation Come From?

By BRODIE FARQUHAR March 13, 2006 Caspar Star-Tribune (WY)
According to Wyoming legislators and legislative staff, there are several organizations out there that provide research, data and even model legislation to legislatures and legislators throughout the country. These include: [...]
  • The Progressive Legislative Action Network’s (PLAN) mission is “to pass progressive legislation in all fifty states by providing coordinated research and strategic advocacy tools to forward-thinking state legislators.” Headquarters is New York, NY. Founded in 2005 with the backing of several unions, activist groups and progressive legislators -- essentially an anti-ALEC.
  • [...] ALEC and PLAN have definite tilts to the right and the left, respectively, though claims of bipartisanship are undercut by ALEC being predominately Republican in orientation, while PLAN is predominately Democratic. ALEC, which claims 2,400 legislator members, charges legislators $100 per biennium to join (constituting less than 2 percent of the annual budget), but then charges corporations (over 300) and associations graduated memberships at $5,000; $10,000; $25,000 and $50,000 to sit at the table with legislators and craft “model” legislation. Corporate funds underwrite travel scholarships, by which legislators and their families can attend national meetings. ALEC’s corporate members have a keen interest in the bills that they craft. For example, model legislation for "three strikes" and "minimum sentencing" -- laws to keep convicted criminals in prison longer nwas partially crafted by the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison organization, when it sat on ALEC's Criminal Justice Task Force. PLAN’s officers are divided between New York and Helena, Montana. The organization is co-chaired by Steve Doherty, the former Minority Leader of the Montana Senate, and David Sirota, a Fellow at the Center for American Progress. PLAN’s kickoff event last August was co-sponsored by, among others, Moveon.org, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Steelworkers of America, and progressive philanthropists Andy and Deborah Rappaport. Too new to be called an opposite mirror of ALEC, PLAN is striving to build networks among progressive legislators and activist groups, and develop model legislation.
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