These invoices are given bogus titles (“The Asbestos Transparency Act did not help individuals exposed to asbestos. It was composed by corporations who wanted to make it tougher for victims”); and they are supported by an ensemble cast of”specialists” that rove from hearing , testifying on the invoices; they’re frequently used to overturn local laws (such as state legislation which overturn city ordinances on Airbnb, higher minimum wages, limits on plastic bags, etc); and are a source of tremendous gains for the companies which support them (“One which passed in Wisconsin restricted pain-and-suffering compensation for wounded nursing-home residents, restricting payouts to lost wages, which the older residents don’t have.”) .

USA TODAY/Arizona Republic found the Asbestos Transparency Act, also a product of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an industry-supported model bill mill, was introduced in at least 32 states since 2012.  It became law in 12 nations.

A number of the lawmakers who signed on these bills as cosponsors say they’d no idea they had been encouraging”copycat” legislation. Though copycat bills are sometimes right wing, sometimes left wing, and at times about enriching a specific industry, the most frequent political valence of these invoices is right wing, and familiar names such as ALEC (previously) direct the charge.

For a couple of decades, researchers in USA Today, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity have been drinking the bills introduced in all 50 state legislatures, yielding a corpus of more than 1,000,000 bills, and then swallowed months of computer time on a large cluster, comparing these bills to”model legislation” promoted by lobbyists, employing a text-mining engine that could identify paraphrases, synonyms, and other strategies used to submit the serial numbers from those invoices.

They found that over 10,000 bills which were notionally authored by elected lawmakers drawing a salary at public expenses were actually authored by lobbyists; over 2,100 of these bills became law. These invoices are a wishlist of special-interest favors that are legislative: limits on your ability to sue a company which injures limits in your right to protest, you , limits in your right to abortion.

One of those experts was Mark Behrens, that logs thousands of miles annually testifying before lawmakers about ALEC’s model asbestos legislation. He has done so at least 13 countries, where he had been billed as a goal authority.
You elected them to write laws. They’re enabling corporations do it rather. [Rob O’Dell and Nick Penzenstadler/The Arizona Republic, USA Today and the Center for Public Integrity]

Sonnenberg, the lawmaker who introduced it in Colorado, said he did not write the invoice and relied on”my experts” to describe it through a February 2017 hearing. 

Behrens is an attorney with Shook, Hardy and Bacon, which represents companies in civil litigation.