by David Sirota and Nathan Newman
Feb. 20, 2006
In These Times
Speaking to a packed room of 2,000 state legislators and business lobbyists gathered in Grapevine, Texas, last fall, George W. Bush thanked the crowd for its work on behalf of the conservative agenda. He wasn’t talking about work they’d done on Capitol Hill, but about their collaboration to push the corporate agenda forward in statehouses across the country. The meeting was the 32nd annual gathering of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a membership association for conservative lawmakers. As its chairman, Georgia State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, said of the president’s speech: “It was like the governor of a state talking to his legislative leaders.”
This is the critical point: The highest echelons of the conservative movement and corporate America treat state legislators not as members of 50 different institutions, but as a single set of leaders who can be mobilized on a national basis.
Recognizing this reality, the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) was formed in fall 2005 to create a counterforce to the right in statehouses across the country. Supported by groups like MoveOn and the Center for American Progress, along with unions like SEIU, AFSCME, the AFL-CIO and the Steelworkers, PLAN is working with state legislators across the country to move both a united agenda and strategic plan to take on ALEC and its allies throughout the country.
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