Citizens decry the involvement of shadowy special interests and lobbying groups in our politics, so it's quite surprising that Rep. Rachel Burgin, a Republican from Tampa, tried to pass the actual mission statement of such a group into law.
It's not exactly a secret that lawmakers often don't actually write the laws they introduce. Sometimes they rely on aides, but sometimes they just pretty much copy and paste language pre-written for them by outside groups. Most, however, aren't as lazy about it as Burgin.
Burgin introduced a bill written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (more on what that is later), but she made one mistake. She forgot to delete a portion that included the groups mission statement. Yes, she tried to introduce the following language into the Florida statutes:
WHEREAS, it is the mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual libertyBurgin realized her mistake, pulled the bill, and reintroduced it under a different number 24 hours later, but not before Common Blog found the mistake.
So, yes, Burgin had introduced a bill that was written word-for-word by ALEC, but what exactly is ALEC? It describes itself as "a nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers," and boasts that about a third of state legislators across the country are members. However, state lawmakers aren't the only members. The group boasts several corporate members.
"Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights," claims the site ALEC Exposed. "These so-called 'model bills' reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations."
How much influence exactly the corporate members have over the bills that are crafted, and the group claims that corporate members get no vote on which model bills the group adapts.
Regardless, Burgin's dumb mistake inadvertently gave Floridians a clearer peak into how our legislative sausage is made.
However, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Burgin isn't writing her own legislation. She doesn't have much of a proper education in the law. The 29-year-old majored in biblical studies at the Moody Bible Institute.
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