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The special interest-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is reeling from weeks of intense criticism of the unethical influence it has long enjoyed in state legislatures across the nation.

ALEC has been in existence since the 1970s, but only recently has the extent of their unethical influence in state legislatures around the nation been exposed. ALEC promoted radical gun legislation in Florida now at the heart of the controversy over the killing of an African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin, in many state legislatures. This is a major reason why major corporations including Coca Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, and Proctor & Gamble have announced that they are ending their sponsorships of ALEC.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The organization, with a staff of 30 and a $5.5 million yearly budget, teams lawmakers up with corporate interests to push decidedly pro-business bills through state legislatures. Any lawmaker who is a member of the group can simply log on to its Web site and find hundreds of bills to copy. They can shop for ideas on how to curb class-action lawsuits, help the telecommunications industry or toughen the criminal justice system.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/8/2005]

Here in Colorado, ongoing research has uncovered dozens of bills with origins in ALEC’s so-called “model legislation.” In the past few years, ALEC has sponsored bills to irresponsibly weaken Colorado’s sensible gun laws, attack the rights of consumers, and limit access to voting. Even after ALEC announced that it will scale back some of the most radical parts of their agenda, they are expected to continue pushing legislation undermining the rights of individual Americans, and stacking the deck against accountability for corporate special interests.


From an invitation to an ALEC legislative and corporate social event hosted by Colorado Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman and Rep. Libby Szabo. The invitation is titled, “it’s that time of year again!”

ALEC in the Colorado General Assembly

This year, ALEC ‘model legislation’ introduced in the Colorado General Assembly included bills to strip Colorado citizens of voting rights, attack the rights of state workers to negotiate for better conditions, and a bill to institute needless and discriminatory drug testing of applicants for public assistance. Last year, ALEC helped the far right export Arizona’s reviled anti-immigrant legislation to our state. And yet another recent ALEC bill, House Bill 11-1106, would have allowed corporate wrongdoers and their underwriters to unfairly profit from the insurance policies of personal injury victims.

Persecuting Immigrants for Political Gain

In 2012, Rep. Amy Stephens, facing a tough primary against another conservative, introduced a bill that would clog Colorado’s already crowded jails with thousands of people who have not been convicted of any crime–persons awaiting trial and suspected of being in the country without documentation. It shifts the burden federal immigration enforcement onto local police and sheriffs, stretching limited resources beyond capacity.

Attacking Worker’s Rights: “Work for Less”

“Right to work” legislation creates a very difficult environment for workers negotiating for better conditions. It prohibits unions and private sector employers alike from setting up fully union represented workplace. Even if a union has the support of a majority of workers in a place of employment, it cannot represent all the workers. Studies have shown that in states where “right to work” laws are passed, wages and benefits decrease for ALL workers.

Rolling Back Colorado’s New Energy Economy

Colorado’s voter-approved renewable energy standards led the nation in the shift to clean energy technology when they were enacted a few years ago. Not surprisingly, ALEC’s benefactors in the oil and gas industry have worked overtime to push legislation in the Colorado General Assembly to roll back renewable energy standards. According to Bloomberg News, the energy industry is shifting to ALEC and state legislatures to attack renewable energy standards, “where incentives to develop solar, wind, geothermal and other alternate energy sources have had bipartisan support.”

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Colorado Legislators with ALEC Ties

House of Representatives

Rep. Laura Bradford (R-55)
Rep. B J Nikkel (R-49), State Chairman
Rep. Larry G. Liston (R-16); Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force
Rep. Robert S. Gardner (R-21); Civil Justice Task Force
Rep. Mark Waller (R-15); Civil Justice Task Force and Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force
Rep. Cindy Acree (R-40); Health and Human Services Task Force
Rep. Kenneth Summers (R-22); Health and Human Services Task Force
Rep. Carole R. Murray (R-45); Education Task Force
Rep. Frank McNulty (R-43); Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force
Rep. Cheri Gerou (R-25); Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force
Rep. Kent Lambert (R-14)
Rep. Libby Szabo (R-27)

Senate

Sen. Bill Cadman (R-10), State Chairman; Civil Justice Task Force
Sen. Nancy Spence (R-27), former co-chair, Education Task Force ; Education Task Force
Sen. Steve King (R-7)
Sen. Keith C. King (R-12); Education Task Force
Sen. Scott W. Renfroe (R-13); Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force
Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-15); Health and Human Services Task Force
Sen. Greg Brophy (R-1); Public Safety and Elections Task Force

List courtesy Sourcewatch
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Some Recent ALEC Legislation in Colorado*

*NOTE: This is not a complete list of ALEC legislation introduced in Colorado. More bills continue to be added on an ongoing basis as their ALEC origins are identified. Please contact us at info@progressnowcolorado.org for more information, or to let us know about other ALEC bills.

Bill Topic Bill Number (Colorado) Sponsors Degree of similarity ALEC Exposed link Colorado legislative link
Emergency Firearm HB12-1064 Stephens, King Substantial identical language Link Link
Immigration Bond Conditions HB12-1316 Stephens Similar Intent Link Link
Open Public Employee Bargaining HB12-1118 Conti, Harvey Substantial identical language Link Link
“Right to Work” SB12-100 Neville, Joshi Substantial identical language Link Link
Statutory Rates of Interest HB12-1305 Gardner, King S. Substantial identical language Link Link
Sell Federal Ag Public Land HB12-1322 Sonnenberg, Renfroe, Scheffel Similar Intent Link Link
Unfunded Mandates SJR12-006 Roberts, Brown Similar Intent Link Link
Parents Request Action On Low-Performing Schools HB12-1149 Beezley, Johnston Substantial identical language Link Link
Voter ID HB12-1111 Szabo, Summers Substantial idential language Link Link
Mandatory E-Verify HB12-1309 Swalm, King K. Similar intent Link Link
Drug Testing TANF Applicants HB12-1046 Sonnenberg, Brophy Media identified Link Link
Roll back renewable energy standards SB11-071 Mitchell Media identified Link Link
Recovery of “Actual Damages” In Personal Injury Cases HB11-1106 Gardner B., Roberts Substantial indentical language Link Link
Power to Arrest Illegal Aliens SB11-054 Lambert, Balmer Substantial indentical language Link Link
Prohibit Collective Bargaining HB11-1320 Joshi, Cadman Substantial identical language Link Link
Reaffirming 10th Amendment HJR10-1009 Acree, Mitchell Substantial identical language Link Link
Educator Effectiveness SB10-191 Johnston, Spence Substantial identical language Link Link
Taxpayer Transparency-Budget Database HB09-1288 Nikkel, Kopp Substantial identical language Link Link
Voter ID HB09-1115 Summers, Renfroe Substantial identical language Link Link
Bail provisions for a person who is illegally present HB09-1147 Gardner, B., Mitchell Substantial identical language Link Link
Tax Credit for Private School Tuition HB09-1195 Lambert, Brophy Substantial identical language Link Link
Protect Worker Secret Ballots SJM09-007 Cadman Substantial identical language Link Link

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Take Action

Tell your legislators to sever all ties with ALEC