ALEC has gone local. No, not Alec Baldwin. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council
an organization that for the last few years has been drafting
conservative legislation for state legislatures. According to an
article in today's New York Times
, this year ALEC
started a new program called the American City County Exchange
which will draft conservative legislation for local legislatures.
Its first area of focus is right-to-work laws, the term for laws
that prohibit labor unions from requiring their members to pay fees.
The members still get the value of the union's work, but don't have
to pay for it. This leaves the union with less resources to get
politically involved. The goal of these laws is changing the balance
of political competition.
The issue I want to raise involves local lobbying. When
organizations such as ALEC try to get county officials to pass their
laws, they do not have to disclose their lobbying, because very few
counties have lobbying oversight programs. Thus, according to the
article, when an ALEC ordinance came before the Warren County,
Kentucky Fiscal Court (effectively, the county commission) last
week, it came completely out of the blue, with no disclosure of
lobbying or even of the topic of the ordinance.