Special thanks to Bob Mercer for reporting state legislative news. In a story April 24, I learned that our Legislature’s Executive Board authorized at least $10,5000 of state monies to pay two-year memberships for our 105 legislators and unlimited trips to out-of-state American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meetings.
ALEC is a controversial trade association which drafts model bills that are not disclosed to the public and are replicated by state legislatures across the country. Beside lawmakers, nearly 300 large corporations are members of ALEC, many refusing to disclose membership and lobbying contributions to this nonprofit association. There has been a movement among stockholders asking the corporations to disclose their contributions. Because of this public pressure more than 36 companies have dropped membership in ALEC including Amazon.com, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Merck, Johnson & Johnson and General Motors. Bills that ALEC has pushed include Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, figuring prominently in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and Arizona’s immigration laws, such as requiring state officers to determine an individual’s immigration status during a “lawful contact” when there is reasonable suspicion.
I ask our legislators to continue to look behind various issues and to deal with those matters that promote the common good of South Dakotans.