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May
2014
16

“Solar is Dumb” and Other Brilliant Assertions from ALEC’s Delusional Inner Circle

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An op-ed from Wisconsin Assemblywoman Chris Taylor sheds light on her year as a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  The overarching views Taylor describes are not shocking, but the details would seem almost satirical to the casual observer.

Renewable energy, for instance, is an area where ALEC’s approach veers from merely protecting “big business” ideals into the realm of Dr. Evil destruction:

Though the renewable energy sector is growing, is popular with the public, and is generating new jobs- and the solar industry now employs 140,000 more people than our nation’s coal mines-conference attendees focused on hindering this sector, especially solar. Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo, who recently received national attention about a racist tweet concerning NBA players, quipped “solar is dumb.”

Legislators from Utah and Oklahoma bragged about slowing the development of solar energy in their states. Oklahoma Senator A.J. Griffin passed a bill to tax individuals using distributed generation from solar panels or wind turbines to “protect our most vulnerable utilities.” ALEC wants to tax people who use small scale solar or wind or who drive electric cars. According to ALEC, property owners should have a right to kill a person on their property, but not use solar or wind energies on their property without paying a tax.

Clean energy is only one universally crucial concept that ALEC stands against. Public education and income inequality also make for ALEC punchlines as evidenced by Taylor’s experiences:

ALEC’s guiding principle-supporting big business-turns the small-c conservative ideal of individual liberty and local control on its head. As Utah Senator Howard Stephenson stated to an Education subcommittee, “We need to stomp out local control.” School boards and city councils take away liberties quicker than the federal government, he insisted. Local governing entities can be a roadblock to the ALEC agenda, so their power needs to be preempted and removed.

And as ALEC convenes a new working group on public school financing, the model bill that is in the works is a funding formula based on school performance with criteria set by state legislators. One ALEC legislator stated that school boards should be taken out of the equation all together, as they merely use children as “human shields.”

Finally, there are the economics of the ALEC otherworld. I chuckled at the scorn directed at Minnesota, where, Rep. Garafalo remarked, “the inmates are running the asylum.” Minnesota raised taxes on the rich and invested the resulting revenue in public schools, including all-day kindergarten. In “Rich States, Poor States,” an ALEC publication that ranks states in terms of a 2013 State Economic Outlook, Minnesota ranks 46th, Wisconsin 15th and Mississippi 10th. Yet in 2012 Minnesota had one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, and currently has higher median incomes and lower unemployment and poverty rates than both Wisconsin and Mississippi (where a whopping 17.5% of families have incomes below the poverty level). The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts Minnesota near the top of private sector job growth in the Midwest, while Wisconsin lags near the bottom. In the ALEC otherworld, actual economics do not count.
It’s all about a business-friendly environment. Hello, Third World.

Read the entire article.

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