ALEC’s Influence in Tennessee
We’ve told you before about one of ALEC’s favorite Tennessee lawmakers, Senator Brian Kelsey. Now, a story from Rick Locker about ALEC’s super-sized influence at the General Assembly.
Indeed, ALEC is ingrained in the Tennessee Legislature, particularly among majority Republicans. Eighteen Tennessee lawmakers spent just over $53,000 in taxpayer money to attend ALEC conferences in 2014 (not counting lawmakers who didn’t bill the state for the travel), according to expense records on the Legislature’s website.
And he notes:
When the Tennessee Legislature approved a bill in 2011 allowing for-profit online “virtual schools” to receive the state’s share of per-pupil public school funding for every Tennessee student an online school enrolled, its legislative sponsors used a model bill from ALEC.
Virginia-based K-12 Inc. lobbied for the bill. Within months of passage, the company contracted with the small, rural Union County school district to open the Tennessee Virtual Academy to students statewide. After four years of low performance by its students on the state’s standardized tests, the State Department of Education has ordered the academy to close in June, but a lawsuit is pending.
And why won’t the legislature pass InsureTN? Locker points to ALEC’s influence:
One of ALEC’S anti-Obamacare model bills requires legislative approval for expansion of Medicaid, as opposed to unilateral action by the governor. Tennessee lawmakers approved a similar bill in 2014, the precursor to this year’s rejection of Haslam’s Insure Tennessee.
Rest assured, ALEC’s influence is alive and well in the Tennessee General Assembly. The first step to overcoming this influence is to expose it. Once exposed, we must push back so that we can move our state forward.
For more on moving Tennessee forward, follow @TNCitizenAction