The Dirty Truth: How Bills Become Law

By: Giuliani Medina

The American Legislative Exchange Council also known as “ALEC is a non-profit organization that state legislators dedicated the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism and was founded in 1973.” The American Legislative Exchange Council has been able to exert private influence on public policy in America by providing large scale corporate support to lawmakers and policies that promote their private interests. The relationship between the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the United States government with their legislators has resulted in harming the our citizens. 

Many of United States’ state senators and corporate lobbyists amalgamate with ALEC on voting on bills that they have created to help gain profits for corporations’ power and money. Each year, ALEC creates over one thousand bills and about 1 out of every 5 bills get approved by the state’s legislators. Since ALEC is a non-profit organization, the system they have to gain money is by the members of the corporations. “Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year.” Which demonstrates, that ALEC is gaining from the memberships. ALEC also have many other ways of gaining money, such as receiving grants from corporations which usually is more than $10,000. The highest grant they have received is $200,000 from a company who was really involved with ALEC. In ALEC there are 2,000 legislative members and about 300 corporate members. “Corporations on ALEC task forces VOTE on the “model” bills and resolutions, and sit as equals with legislators voting on the ALEC task forces and various working groups. Corporate and legislative governing boards also meet jointly each year.” This demonstrates that it’s not only person creating these bill. It is way more people than what you’ll expect. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, is a member of is very associated with The American Legislative Exchange Council. The CEO of ALEC, Lisa Nelson and Paul Ryan have a very close communication. It is not a secret that they have private meetings with each other. Ryan has even implied that he “does not trust the people of this country given that he does so much of his business in secret.” demonstrates that he does a lot of meetings behind the citizens of the untied states. This is giving the United States citizens the wrong impression of who is being the creation of bill making. 

The corporations and legislators receive many benefits from the bills. The laws are written by ALEC with a little bit of help of corporations and are approved by the state’s legislators. Many of the bills are written based off the corporations opinion.  If corporations are having an input on the bill, then they are most definitely are receiving the best benefits from the people of the United States. The corporation’s agents and the member of ALEC are always having meetings on what bill will work and will not work. 

Many of the laws also known as bills that ALEC has created has passed through states legislators. One of them that was created, was focused on prisoners. This law helps corporations and state legislators by having inmates work for them either for the free or for the lowest minimum wage.  The Corrections Corporation of America also known as the CCA and ALEC are very invested with each other. Along with another company called Geo Group (Geo). Both of the corporations and ALEC have an agreement of having inmates, making their product. “Two other U.S. companies relying upon prison labor for products sold in their stores are K-Mart and JCPenney. Both sell Jeans made by inmates in Tennessee prisons. The same prison in Tennessee provides labor for Eddie Bauer’s wooden rocking horses.” You will think these inmates are making at least the minimum wage but they are honestly making less than what you expect. “A worker [is] earning twenty cents an hour, not in a faraway country, but by a member of an invisible American workforce: prisoners.” Sometimes the inmates are not even making any money. They are just doing what they are supposed to do. In 1995, ALEC’s Truth in Sentencing Act was signed to be law in more than fifteen states. On the bill it says “This Act would require any person convicted of a crime to serve no less than 85 percent of the sentence imposed. This Act would also require any person convicted of a violent crime to serve no less than 100 percent of sentence imposed by the court.” meaning that if someone is found guilty for a crime they did. The inmates can not be discharged if they have not completed at least 85% of their sentence . 1995, is the start of a prison labor in America. 

In the summer of 2010, ALEC and Arizona’s state legislature had a private meeting in which they came out and carried out the law called The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act very known as the SB 1070 law.  This law gives the power to law enforcement to demand the papers of people who they suspect of being in the country illegally. “The law also made it a crime to fail to carry registration papers and for people in the country illegally to solicit work.” This law made everything very much harder for people who live in Arizona. Not only do residents, always have to carry a paper that proves that they have a citizenship but this law is focusing on one specific group of people. This law is very similar to the stop and frisk from New York City. But instead of looking for suspicious people of doing a crime, this one is if you look suspicious of not having a citizenship of the United States of America you’ll be questioned. If you do have the papers in your hands, then you will be arrested and detain in a jail. When being detained, you will have to prove your citizenship status to become free.


If the citizenship can not be proven then, they will be detain in jail until their court hearing. Usually, they will keep them in jail or send them back to their home country. However, majority of the time they are detained for a while meaning more than one month. Many private prisons are very similar to a hotel. The more people they have in a jail, the more money they make off of them. It is more of them making more money, than really of an inmate creating the crime. The founder of CCA, Thomas Beasley said “you just sell it like you were selling cars or real estate or hamburgers.” This represents their truth feelings towards inmates. They are just trying to make money off of them. They found the easiest way. Many people are not exposed to this. They are to blind when it comes to all the bills created to just benefit corporations. There are many bills created to harm many humans outside of corporations. 

Many of us, most definitely heard of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. In 2012, Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida. His killer named George Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder. However, he was found not guilty. Majority of the people say that, Stand Your Ground Law had a major impact in the verdict. Stand Your Ground Law allows an “individual use unlawful force, in order to protect and defend themselves or others against threats.” In this case, the killer, Zimmerman used this as his reasoning on why he shot Trayvon. Moving forward, ALEC was involved with standing on your ground laws. They support this cause. They support this because guns are being bought. There is some gun corporations that have a partnership with ALEC. 

In a wake of this shooting, The American Legislative Exchange Council started to lose many business. Meaning corporations and state legislature departed their ways from ALEC. “Many companies distanced themselves last year from ALEC once news circulated that the group was connected to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.” This means, many of them did not agree with the law. They started to realize the truth of ALEC. “The Poison of Stand Your Ground Was from ALEC” demonstrates that many of them agree that ALEC has created many laws to benefit them and the higher class instead of the helping each other.  “The Guardian has learned that by Alec’s own reckoning the network has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership over the past two years, as well as more than 60 corporations that form the core of its funding. In the first six months of this year it suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.” This shows that many of the members did not agree on this law and will not continue to support ALEC. As of 2011 till the present, ALEC is having trouble raising money for their organization. Money to support each other. They are not making the same amount of money as previous years and are not receiving the same amount of benefits. 

To conclude, The American Legislative Exchange Council is a very shady organization. They only do things to benefit them, corporations and state legislators. All the benefits they gain from lower class. All they have is greed for money. As I mention before, they only care for themselves. They have the authority to create bill. They usually make bills and are passed by state legislators. Many people are very blind to this organization.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. pearlstark says:

    Before watching 13th I had never heard of ALEC before. I becsme super interested in what id di and what it was but never really followed up wit reserching it. Your essay shed a new light on what ALEC is, what it does, and what it means for the citizens of America. Your essay was clearly heavily researched. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s