While conservative organizations like the American Legislative Exchange
Council (ALEC) have coordinated takeovers of state legislative agendas
across the countryï¿½a reality documented in our report, Governing the Nation from the Statehouses
ï¿½ they are usually helped locally by a range of organizations and
political networks that the rightwing have been funding for years.
Wyoming faces an ongoing saga of attemps by ALEC to steer legislation
while pretending that all of their actions are homegrown. Local
businessman Brett Glass became dismayed when a telecom "deregulation"
bill was introduced that would destroy his business but would be a
major help to Qwest.
A good place to start in researching your local corporate-backed policy outfits is the State Policy Network;
pick your state on the linked map and you'll be able to see a list of
"free market" think tanks in your local area. While there is a lot of
overlap, you can also check out the map of state groups listed by Americans for Tax Reform.
Last Thursday's Dispatch incorrectly stated that the minimum wage ballot initiative in Michigan
would raise the minimum wage to $7.40. In reality, the $7.40 figure
appears in the bill being pushed by rightwing legislators. Rightwing
legislators are attempting to undercut the initiative that ties the
minimum wage to cost-of-living adjustments. The Republican bill would
provide a higher minimum wage than the initiative for a period of
several years. In the long term, the initiative would be a better deal
An old rule of politics is to not let the perfect be the enemy of the
good. A new corrolary may be: Be wary of letting the good become the
enemy of the perfect. In both Michigan and Pennsylvania, conservatives reading the polls are looking to defuse a ticking political time-bomb: the minimum wage.
Two states, two different stories. Colorado's House just weakened a bill that would allow workers to take a small amount of time off each week for family reasons, such as parent-teacher meetings. Meanwhile, Arizona's legislature is unanimously moving a bill forward to protect the right of mothers to breast feed their children in public businesses.
A few folks pointed out that in Monday's Dispatch we had given anti-public school activists too much credit for success when we said that Texas, Lousiana, and Kansas had passed the 65% Distraction into law.
It's no secret that one of the top priorities for the rightwing
movement has been privatization of public education through vouchers
and tax credits. But the raw fact is that the public has consistently
rejected their initiatives when they've come to a vote-- every time the
voters have faced ballot initiatives on the issue, they have
overwhelmingly rejected them by a cumulative 68% to 32% margin in the 12 ballot initiatives from 1970 to 2000.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recently issued its 2006 version of its "Report Card on American Education",
the organization's annual propaganda that public schools are failing
and that more resources for poorer schools won't make a difference.