How creative, how transparent…
Last week, State Rep. Greg MacMaster introduced legislation being described as a “forced privatization bill” that is essentially cut-and-pasted from model legislation developed by the corporatist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The new bill, H.B. 4549, is strikingly similar to ALEC’s “Public-Private Fair Competition Act” (pdf).
Progress Michigan, the group that first reported on this corporate-written ALEC legislation last week, had this to say about it:
Tuesday Rep. Greg MacMaster introduced a bill copied and pasted from the “Public-Private Fair Competition Act,” adopted by ALEC’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and approved by ALEC’s Board of Directors in January 1995. The bill would prohibit public entities from competing against the private sector, and its definitions are so restrictive that it would allow corporations to take the state to court and force it to stop providing valuable public services. ALEC’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force includes the Tax Foundation (funded by the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil), The Mackinac Center’s Richard Vedder, and other State Policy Network-funded groups including the Freedom Foundation, Goldwater Institute, and the Illinois Policy Institute.
“Once again Lansing Republicans have been caught copying their work from ALEC’s radical corporate agenda,” said Zack Pohl, Executive Director of Progress Michigan. “Republican leaders claim that ‘Michigan’s Comeback’ makes us a model for other states, yet they can’t even come up with any ideas that haven’t been tried and failed already. Lansing politicians need to drop these unnecessary attacks on middle-class families, and get to work creating jobs and investing in education.”
It’s worth noting that the government would not be allowed to work with non-profits to provide services if they are in competition with for-profit private enterprises, as well. If a profit can be made, apparently, it MUST be made.
Private corporations that feel they are getting competition from the state government can file a complaint to force the government to end its competition. The bar for proof is low and the bill explicitly says “The plaintiff is not required to show that they have no adequate remedy at law or will suffer irreparable harm nor any other common law element applicable to obtaining preliminary injunctive relief.”
We hear a lot about how ALEC is influencing the laws in states across the country. Clearly Michigan is no exception. Corporatists and their operatives in our legislature wax eloquent about competition being a necessary driver in innovation and improved services & products for consumers. In education, for example, they say public schools must compete with private and charter schools for students. However, with this effort, it’s clear that they want to prevent competition from the very government they say needs to compete to survive. It’s no surprise to find out that one of the co-sponsers of the bill is Tom McMillin, Chair of the Education Committee. The primary sponsor, Greg MacMaster, is the Chair of the Department of Corrections subcommittee and a benefactor of campaign contributions from private prison groups that stand to benefit handsomely if this legislation is passed into law.
The hypocrisy of this move is rank and foul and transparent for anyone paying attention.