It comes as no surprise that the Koch brothers, whose namesake Koch Industries is headquartered in Wichita, will see a large delegation of Kansas legislators attend the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) convention in Chicago in August. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stilwell and Republican Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita (both are national board members of the ultra-conservative, GOP-oriented ALEC) are scheduled to lead the Kansas delegation to the Windy City from Aug. 7-9.
Kansas state policy allows the legislators to bill taxpayers for up to $475 for registration fees for the event. In an odd twist, for a group of self-proclaimed small-government advocates, because Merrick and Wagle serve in ALEC leadership positions their additional hotel, travel and meal expenses can be billed to taxpayers.
Lawmakers are met at ALEC conferences by corporations who wine and dine them while plugging ready-to-vote-on “model bills” that represent the interests of the corporations and, by association, their ownership. Koch Industries billionaire owners, Charles and David Koch, have long supported ALEC as a part of their overall strategy to move the nation towards their far-right ideology.
Some of the 2013 crop of ALEC model legislation to reach state houses included bills to defund public education, eliminate minimum wage laws and overtime pay, union busting bills, elimination of ability to sue corporations, and bill from several affiliated groups that use ALEC membership to introduce anti-choice legislation.
The convention won’t go without push-back. Protesters plan to attend the convention as well.
Photo by Sue Peacock