Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Note: The following post originally appeared on Texas' Public Citizen website, Texas VOX.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has taken a step that any self-respecting supporter of renewable energy should do – ditched the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  This relationship looked a lot like the fabled one between the scorpion and tortoise.

Despite members such as the SEIA and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), ALEC has decided to make a nationwide push to roll back renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS) that have been enacted in many states.  The RPS sets a percentage of electricity consumed that must be derived from renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar.  The Texas RPS, passed in 1999, has helped propel the state into its role and a wind industry leader.  At one point last month, the ERCOT electric grid (which encompasses most of Texas) was getting 26% of its power from wind turbines. Continue reading this post »

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On Monday, December 3rd, Progress Texas will be screening the documentary Koch Brothers Exposed at the Alamo Draft House (South Lamar).

After the screening, we'll have a 30-minute discussion of the film led by Progress Texas Political Director Phillip Martin and Texas State Representative Garnet Coleman. Continue reading this post »

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This blog was orginally posted on

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation’s education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film “Won’t Back Down” -- set for release September 28 -- portrays so-called “Parent Trigger” laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film's distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system. Continue reading this post »

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ed. note - This post has been reflected to note that Sen. Deuell was never a member of ALEC, and therefore did not recently leave. Please see our explanation on this update at the end of this post.

This year, we have worked to expose ALEC in Texas. You've sent letters to Texas legislators asking them to leave ALEC, and helped share our research about this corporate bill factory's influence in Texas. Today, we have tangible proof that our work is making a difference.

We are pleased to announce that an additional 12 Texas Legislators – 9 Republicans and 3 Democrats – have left and will no longer be a part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These 12 Legislators join 12 others who announced they were leaving in April of 2012, bringing the total number of Texas legislators who have left ALEC to 24 this year alone.

“These legislators have shown the courage of their convictions by standing up to a corporate bill factory and declaring their support for the people of Texas above all else,” said Matt Glazer, Executive Director of Progress Texas.

As we have written many times before, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate bill factory for model laws. The organization arranges for corporate lobbyists and conservative legislators to hold joint secret meetings to craft cookie-cutter bills that increase the profits of private companies at the public’s expense. Following public pressure from Progress Texas and its membership, 24 legislators have dropped - including every Democrat. A majority of the Texas Legislature – 96 of 181 members – is now no longer a part of ALEC.

Continue reading this post »

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Former state Sen. Kyle Janek has been appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to head the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. As the head of the commission, he will oversee five health agencies that have an overall budget of 30 billion dollars. The commission administers health care programs in Texas such as Medicaid, CHIP, food stamps, and family violence services.

Kyle Janek’s previous record on health care is troublesome, however. As a senator in the Texas legislature, Kyle Janek’s top two contributors were both PACs relating to healthcare, one of them being the Texas Medical Association PAC and the other being the Greater Houston Anesthesiology PAC (Kyle Janek also works as an anesthesiologist). As a lobbyist in 2011, Kyle Janek was on the payroll of the following organizations and companies: Continue reading this post »

Sunday, July 1, 2012

On June 13, 2012, Raul Rodriguez was convicted of fatally shooting his unarmed neighbor, Kelly Danaher, during a 2010 altercation in Houston. Rodriguez now faces life in prison.

According to a report from the Huffington Post on June 14th:

Rodriguez was angry about the noise coming from Danaher's home, where the family was having a birthday party for Danaher's wife and young daughter. Rodriguez went to the home and got into an argument with Danaher and two other men attending the party.

In a 22-minute video he recorded that night, Rodriguez can be heard telling a police dispatcher "my life is in danger now" and "these people are going to go try and kill me." He then said, "I'm standing my ground here," and shot Danaher after somebody appeared to grab his camera. The two other men were wounded. Continue reading this post »

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

With the support of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) – which serves as a home away from home for ALEC here in Texas – for-profit education companies are attacking Texas public schools, promoting virtual schools, and putting profits ahead of the education needs of Texas children. These virtual schools are largely unaccountable to Texas taxpayers, despite the fact that their students receive the exact same amount of funding as students who attend traditional public schools. In fact, virtual school students are funded at the same level of traditional public school students thanks to a law passed by Republican Senate Education Chair Florence Shapiro, who sits on ALEC's Education Task Force which is Co-chaired by employees of private companies that own and operate virtual schools in Texas.

The virtual school movement is a $24 billion industry with zero accountability. Virtual schools provide unregulated financial windfalls to a few insiders by shortchanging our children’s education. To help combat the enormous influence of these companies, ALEC, and TPPF, Progress Texas has published a new report, titled Invisible Schools, Invisible Success.

The report examines who is promoting virtual schools through ALEC, how those corporations are tied to Texas, the evolution of virtual schools in Texas, and why virtual schools don’t work. The report also contains a point-by-point exposure of the latest virtual school paper published by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, who last week penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal stating their proud support of ALEC, even though 14 corporations and 51 elected officials – Republicans and Democrats – have already left ALEC.

Continue reading this post »

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is in crisis communications mode. For the first time in (almost) forty years, they have been exposed for serving as a corporate bill factory for conservative legislators across the country, known for crafting and promoting the most controversial legislation in a generation. As a result, 14 corporations and 45 state legislators (as of 5/17/12) from across the country have dumped ALEC in recent weeks. Part of ALEC’s crisis response has been to find someone – anyone – willing to defend ALEC’s pay-to-play operations.

Enter the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Earlier this week, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that rushed to the defense of ALEC – which is no surprise. As we wrote in our inaugural report, ALEC Exposed in Texas, TPPF is ALEC’s home away from home here in Texas:

The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) is a 501(c)(3) whose stated mission is to “promote and defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise. TPPF is part of ALEC’s state policy network, and regularly promotes model legislation approved and promoted by ALEC. Through its policy work and its fundraising efforts, ALEC and TPPF are closely linked and regularly work hand-in-hand to promote the profits of global corporations over creating better lives for Texans.

A recent story by the Texas Observer laid out the way TPPF enacts its bills, taking directly from the ALEC playbook:

Melinda Hasting—who served as the foundation’s vice president from 1996 to 1998 but has since broken with the conservative movement—says one fundraising tactic involved approaching corporations, wealthy businessmen, and corporate-funded foundations with a pitch. Hasting (formerly Melinda Wheatley) describes it: “We think this is beneficial to your industry and would you consider providing us with a non-profit contribution. … Here’s the timeline for the completion of the research; the parameters of the research are this; we expect it will result in some savings or outsourcing.”

For example, she says, the Associated General Contractors of Texas and the Consulting Engineers Council of Texas helped fund a 1997 TPPF study called “Sundown on Big Government.” The study purported to show that the Texas Department of Transportation and 11 other state agencies could collectively cut more than $737 million from their budgets by, in part, privatizing and outsourcing agency functions—a potentially lucrative proposal for the contractors and engineers that had helped fund the study. “I remember that as the watershed moment for TPPF,” says Hasting, who spearheaded the report. “That set into place that TPPF was a real player.”

Continue reading this post »

Friday, May 11, 2012

Blog post originally posted on Think Progress.

Today, behind closed doors in Charlotte, North Carolina, legislators from 15 states will meet with the oil and gas industry to discuss so-called “model legislation” as part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The result could be laws that handicap renewable energy targets — while creating loopholes for fossil fuels, written directly by the oil and gas industry itself. Continue reading this post »

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tell every Texas legislators who is a members of ALEC to end their involvement immediately and to put the interests of people over corporations.

Progress Texas is formally launching a campaign to urge Texas legislators to leave ALEC. Last week, we wrote about how corporations have begun to leave ALEC - discovering that it's a toxic, partisan organization they'd rather not be associated with. As of April 12, the following corporations and organizations have left ALEC: Continue reading this post »


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