I always thought that laws came from suggestions from the citizens and then written by legislators for public hearings and committee review. The bills were then presented to the Wisconsin Assembly and State Senate for voting.

However, not all Wisconsin laws are created this way. Four dozen Wisconsin laws since 2009 came from “model” bills. These bills were often from outside of Wisconsin and frequently backed by powerful business and ideological interests, according to a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review.

Last month, USA Today reported the use of model bills in all 50 states. That is why several states may pass the same law, using almost identical language.

Where do these “model” bills come from? ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, based in Arlington, Virginia.

ALEC was created in the 1970s to unite powerful business interests with mostly GOP and conservative state legislators around the country. They meet to develop “model legislation” that state legislators can adjust and use in their own home state. ALEC produces bills dealing with taxes, privatizing government services and programs, health care, environmental deregulation, tort reform, guns and voter ID.

According to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, several current and former Wisconsin legislators, including GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, have been members of ALEC or attended ALEC conferences.

Some of the Wisconsin laws that look like ALEC’s model bills include:

  • Voter ID
  • Castle Doctrine (the right to defend your home or “castle” through the use of reasonable or even deadly force.)
  • Restricting public employee union rights, eliminating the prevailing wage,
  • Deregulating professional licensing requirements

Seems to me that we need to produce laws that start come from the people, not some secret out-of-state think tank with special interests.

For more information, go to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, www.wisdc@wisdc.org