He is a co-chairman of ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force and is a paid consultant for the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, an arm of the nation’s biggest business lobby, which has the stated aim of reducing litigation.
These bills are given bogus titles (“The Asbestos Transparency Act didn’t help people exposed to asbestos. It was composed by corporations who wanted to make it tougher for victims”); and they’re encouraged by an ensemble cast of”experts” who rove from hearing to hearing, testifying on the invoices; they’re often used to overturn local legislation (for instance, state legislation that overturn city ordinances on Airbnb, higher minimum wages, limits on plastic bags, etc); and are a source of tremendous gains for the businesses that support them (“One that passed in Wisconsin limited pain-and-suffering compensation for injured nursing-home residents, restricting payouts to lost wages, which the elderly residents do not have.”) .
USA TODAY/Arizona Republic discovered the Asbestos Transparency Act, also a product of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an industry-supported model invoice mill, has been introduced in at least 32 states since 2012. It became law in 12 states.
You picked them to write laws. They’re enabling corporations do it instead. [Rob O’Dell and Nick Penzenstadler/The Arizona Republic, USA Today and the Center for Public Integrity]
One of those experts was Mark Behrens, who logs thousands of miles a year testifying before lawmakers about ALEC’s version asbestos laws. He has done so at least 13 countries, where he had been charged as a goal authority.
A number of the lawmakers who signed on these bills as cosponsors state they had no idea they were encouraging”copycat” legislation. Though copycat bills are sometimes right wing, occasionally left wing, and sometimes about enriching a particular industry, the most common political valence of the invoices is right wing, and familiar names such as ALEC (formerly ) direct the charge.
Sonnenberg, the lawmaker who introduced it in Colorado, said he did not write the bill and relied upon”my specialists” to describe it during a February 2017 hearing.
For two decades, researchers from USA Today, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity have been ingesting the bills introduced in all 50 state legislatures, yielding a corpus of more than 1,000,000 bills, then swallowed months of computer time on a large cluster, comparing those bills to”model laws” promoted by lobbyists, employing a text-mining engine which could identify paraphrases, synonyms, and other processes used to file the serial numbers off of the bills.
They discovered that more than 10,000 invoices that were notionally authored by elected lawmakers drawing a salary in public expenditures were actually penned by lobbyists; more than 2,100 of these bills became law. These invoices are a wishlist of all legislative favors that are special-interest: limits on your ability to sue a business that injures limits on the right to protest, you , limits to abortion in your right.