Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ALEC continues push to crush democracy

Elected officials from coast to coast, frustrated by Capitol Hill's lack of action to address the pitifully low U.S. minimum wage, have decided to take the issue on themselves by raising the wage floor. Sometimes, it's been through the local or state halls of power. Other times, it's been at the ballot box.

Teamsters have rallied against ALEC's efforts.
But in a handful of states, corporate apologist lawmakers are clamping down on the rights of the people who want to raise the incomes of low-wage workers. Just last week, for example, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill into law that blocks cities in the state from passing their own minimum wage hikes or paid sick leave requirements. And a similar bill was passed by the Missouri Legislature, a reaction to efforts of workers in both Kansas City and St. Louis who are trying to institute a minimum wage increase themselves.

Not surprisingly, there is a constant in the efforts to shut down these minimum wage increases nationwide -- the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The buddy of conservative state lawmakers continues to reek havoc in states across the country, and has offered modeled legislation that has been used by lawmakers to institute their preemption laws nationwide.

As the Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch noted:
ALEC is aggressively pursuing a war on local democracy, pushing "preemption" bills that block cities and counties from enacting ordinances that threaten corporate profits to promote the public good.
Unfortunately, there is proof the effort is working. While only 12 states have banned local governments from instituting changes to minimum wage or paid sick day laws, nine have taken place since 2013. That's what an effort powered by big dollars from billionaire industrialists the Koch Brothers and others can get you.

Lawmakers -- both at the state and federal levels -- need to listen to their constituents, not corporate power brokers. Hardworking Americans are the lifeblood of this great nation. But that won't remain the case if they keep on being ignored by their elected officials.