published Friday, March 22nd, 2013

GOP gets bills from business backers

Tennessee's Legislature and its ruling Republicans rely far more on the rich corporate collaborators that fund and guide ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — than most Tennesseans will ever know.

As in most of the nation's GOP-controlled legislatures nowadays, most of the Tennessee Legislature's business-friendly giveaways, cash incentives for development, partisan and anti-worker reforms of worker compensation and insurance laws, and school voucher and charter school legislation, is concocted or driven by ALEC's deeply partisan, pro-business backers.

So are our legislators' recently adopted campaign financing loopholes, which now make it so easy for elected officials to scoop up lobbyists' cash and to rely entirely on cash campaign donations — the previous limit was 50 percent — from business-funded Political Action Committees. Similarly, ALEC's GOP/tea party loyalists have helped gin up the union-killer bills (think teachers, firemen and police unions) seen broadly among Republican state legislatures the past several years.

And to keep their partisan loyalists and supporting voters in tow, ALEC and its National Rifle Association niche supporters also help circulate pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-health-care reform measures — measures, again, widely circulated and advocated in Nashville.

The ubiquitous use of such ALEC-spawned bills has become so prevalent in Nashville that lawmakers in a previous session adopted a rule forbidding their use of such bills to be identified publicly in the legislative process as ALEC model bills. But it's not hard to spot ALEC-backed legislation once one questions the source or reasoning behind specific bills.

Take the so-called model legislation now before the Tennessee Legislature which, its Tennessee sponsors say, is intended to stop or prevent animal cruelty.

If adopted as law, it would require anyone gathering evidence of animal cruelty or abuse to report such a finding to authorities within 24 to 48 hours, and to promptly turn over any video or pictures of such evidence within this time frame. Its advocates say the bill is intended to facilitate the urgent need to stop animal abuse.

Baloney. It's transparent purpose is to prevent animal-rights advocates from quietly accumulating sufficient documentation to show a court that animal cruelty is wrongly and deliberately used in some slaughterhouses and animal training facilities.

This newspaper's Pam Sohn, for example, wrote frequently last summer about the common practice of regularly soring the hooves of Tennessee Walking horses and other gaited breeds to produce sufficient pain to a show horse to prompt the high-stepping movement known as "the big lick." Soring involves chemicals, chains around the front hooves, and screws pressed into the top of the thick shoe pads that are strapped and chained to the horses' front feet.

Film surreptitiously taken by the U.S. Humane Society documented the routine use of soring Tennessee Walkers and generated arrests and, finally, a historic felony conviction against a well-known trainer and previous winner of Shelbyville's Walking Horse Celebration. The broad revelation of the tawdry but long-tolerated tradition of soring tarnished the Walking Horse industry and clearly upset its officials.

That's scant reason, however, to make it easy in Tennessee for animal abusers to identify — and thus thwart — those who would put themselves at risk to build a case against animal cruelty. If Tennessee lawmakers want such abuse of animals to end, they won't pass this ALEC-sponsored law.

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EaTn said...

Republicans depend on the gullible middle-class support to continue their clandestine transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the upper-class. Read the numbers for the past fifteen years.

March 22, 2013 at 5:43 a.m.
Lr103 said...

ALEC heavily pushed NRA for the infamous Stand Your Ground Laws that cropped up all across the nation. They only distanced themselves from it and did a retreat, at least on the surface (but still likely support it somehow quietly) after the Florida tragedy, and under pressure, when a self appointed neighborhood watch person shot and killed an unarmed teen, and major major companies began to withdraw financial support.

I was both shocked and saddened when I learned the names of some local politicians at the state level had signed on in support of the controversial Stand Your Ground law. One in particular saddened me.

March 22, 2013 at 9:48 a.m.
joneses said...

And the biased author failed to mention that obama received more money from Wall Street during his first campaign to occupy the White House than any president ever. He even hired Tim Geitner from Goldman Sachs as the Treasury Secretary. Another example of liberal hypocrisy.

March 23, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.
joneses said...

The dummycrats want to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans income making if more difficult for the rest of us to become wealthy and establishing who has wealth now will stay wealthy and if you do not have wealth now you never will. This will establish a wealthy ruling class worst than we have now and will eliminate the middle class by placing the middle class in government subsidized poverty where the poor are now.

March 23, 2013 at 9:34 a.m.
TirnaNOG said...

Geitner never worked for Goldman Sachs.

The remainder of what joneses is a pathetic exaggeration or out right lies. Check the facts!

The lies and exaggerations joneses vomits have been circulating the internet for quite sometime now. They're said to have been started by a rightwingNUT group calling itself America Future Fund. They've had to backtrack and corrected some of their exaggerations and lies but, like a deadly contagious disease purposely let loose onto the general population, the disease continues to infect the population, mutating and becoming something more deadly and totally unrecognizable even by its original Host Source.

March 23, 2013 at 9:54 a.m.
fairmon said...

By all means avoid being business friendly. That may result in more businesses and jobs in the state requiring more people to work for a living. That is not something everyone wants, especially those wealthy that prefer no competition.

March 24, 2013 at 4:47 a.m.
mountainlaurel said...

TFP commentary: “Its advocates say the bill is intended to facilitate the urgent need to stop animal abuse. Baloney. It's transparent purpose is to prevent animal-rights advocates from quietly accumulating sufficient documentation to show a court that animal cruelty is wrongly and deliberately used in some slaughterhouses and animal training facilities.”

Unfortunately, there is an established pattern when it comes to “legislation” that originates from the closed doors of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and the American public always loses. Indeed, it’s understandable why so many people are referring to this organization as the “American Legislative Exploitation Council.”

The fact that so many of our alleged representatives and public officials continue to work in collusion with ALEC is unsettling. I look forward to the day when these people along with ALEC are investigated and prosecuted like any other racketeer:

“Although ALEC claims to take an ideological stance. . . many of the model bills benefit the corporations whose agents write them, shape them, and/or vote to approve them. These are just a few such measures:

---Altria/Philip Morris USA benefits from ALEC’s newest tobacco legislation -- an extremely narrow tax break for moist tobacco that would make fruit flavored tobacco products cheaper and more attractive to youngsters.

---Health insurance companies such as Humana and Golden Rule Insurance (United Healthcare), benefit directly from ALEC model bills, such as the Health Savings Account bill that just passed in Wisconsin.

---Tobacco firms such as Reynolds and pharmaceutical firms such as Bayer benefit directly from ALEC tort reform measures that make it harder for Americans to sue when injured by dangerous products.

---Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) benefits directly from the anti-immigrant legislation introduced in Arizona and other states that requires expanded incarceration and housing of immigrants, along with other bills from ALEC’s crime task force. (While CCA has stated that it left ALEC in late 2010 after years of membership on the Criminal Justice Task Force and even co-chairing it, its prison privatization bills remain ALEC "models.")

March 24, 2013 at 10:50 a.m.
libover30 said...

Torture is used only in some slaughterhouses? No, we can bet that it is used in all slaughterhouses! You would think that people would want the treatment of all creatures, especially the ones they want to eat! to be treated humanely. But that just ain't so. They don't care and they will do anything, and I mean anything to stop the public from getting this information. Because I believe that if the public knows of these barbaric acts, they might actually demand that change happens. But then that would mean that the ones that EAT these creatures would have to see them as living, breathing creatures, and not something that grows in the ground (factory farming wants you to think they grow from the ground). They have families like us and are the only ones to actually live within their own environment. Not like man who just can't seem to do this. Always wanting to change something.

Let's change the lives of all creatures for the better. They don't deserve this, and I would bet that God never, never wanted this for HIS CREATURES! DO THE RIGHT THING!

April 2, 2013 at 7:09 a.m.
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