The low-key “legislative exchange” group has been in the news a lot, promoting right-wing bills in state governments. But it seeks a role on the national level as well. One of its longtime targets is one of the biggest: Social Security.
The American Legislative Exchange Council is taking some flack – and burnishing its conservative credentials – due to the remarkable success of some controversial initiatives. Model bills that have made it onto the books in multiple states thanks to ALEC members of those state’s legislatures include laws mandating stringent new voter ID rules and “stand your ground” laws that helped create the poisoned atmosphere accompanying the tragic gunning down of Trayvon Martin.
What’s sometimes overlooked is that part of ALEC’s goal is for its work at the state level to have a cumulative effect – leading, wherever possible, to legal changes in Congress as well.
One of ALEC’s oldest and most consistently pursued causes has been
the dismantlement of public-employee pension systems. It won a major victory in this fight in May 2000, when the Florida State Legislature passed a bill setting up a 401(k)-type savings plan alongside the traditional, defined benefit pension plan for state workers. The new law allowed state employees to opt out of the existing system and move their assets to a new Public Employee Optional Retirement Program (PEORP). It was the product of an intense fight that brought more lobbyists – mostly from financial services vendors – to Tallahassee than the state capital had ever seen before.