ALEC unveils Const. Amendment to let Gov’s, Legislatures pick US Senators; DeVos, Kochs and others to discuss at ALEC conference this week

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Republicans control 32 of 50 state legislatures and 33 governors’ mansions. Now they want to lock in control of the US Senate, too.

The Center for Media and Democracy has been one of the nation’s foremost critics of the secretive corporate dating service for legislators: ALEC.  The bill factory brings corporations and state legislators together at posh retreats to write “model bills” helping corporations’ bottom lines and, in return, ALEC works to help conservative legislators maintain majorities in state legislatures.

With a majority of state legislatures in Republican hands in 2010, the GOP redrew the lines giving them huge advantages in Congressional and state legislative races, but a new Democratic surge in response to President Trump threatens to reduce their majorities in several swing states.

To get ahead of that, Betsy DeVos, one of the Trump administration’s best-known cabinet members, will join the Koch brothers this week at ALEC’s conference to pitch a new Constitutional amendment to state legislators: repeal the 17th amendment allowing voters, not governors or state legislatures, to pick their US Senators.

CMD’s first reported on the meeting and the debate:

Now that GOP state legislators have control over 32 state legislatures (both chambers), thanks in large part to partisan gerrymandering, some extremists are preparing to use their clout to gerrymander the U.S. Senate.

This week in Denver, July 19-21, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will welcome Republican state legislators and its corporate funders, including Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, K12 Inc., Peabody Energy, and PhRMA, to vote on corporate legislative priorities and create cookie cutter “model” bills in task force meetings that are still closed to the press.

ALEC will welcome U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Newt Gingrich and other Trump loyalists to the meeting.

On the agenda for debate and discussion? A model bill to repeal the 17th Amendment, which established the popular election of United States Senators in 1913.

Previously, U.S. Senators were selected by state legislatures and political party bosses beholden to powerful industries. The corruption scandals erupting from the wheeling and dealing fueled some of the great muckraking investigative journalism of the early 20th Century. In 1912, progressive Republican U.S. Senator Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette campaigned for the popular election of U.S. Senators as a means of cracking down on political corruption and corporate control of the democracy. Reformers introduced direct primary elections, ballot initiatives, and recall votes, in the same time period.

Now right-wing extremists want to roll back the clock to enable Republican state houses and Republican governors to hijack at least 10 U.S. Senate Seats held by Democrats in Republican trifecta states, and force an ever more extreme agenda through Congress.


The “Draft Resolution Recommending Constitutional Amendment Restoring Election Of U.S. Senators To The Legislatures Of The Sovereign States” is scheduled to be debated by ALEC’s Federalism and International Relations Task Force in Denver.

The resolution reads in part:

Section 1. The seventeenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. Senators shall be elected exclusively by the State legislature, upon a majority vote of legislators present and voting in a joint session. If a vacancy shall exist for more than one hundred-eighty days, then the Governor shall appoint the Senator to serve the remainder of the vacant term. This procedure may not be modified by state initiative or referendum.

One only needs to examine the electoral map to understand why ALEC is pushing for a repeal of the 17th Amendment now.

With the majority of states under GOP control, Republicans could snatch some 17 U.S. Senate seats from Democrats if the state legislatures are given the right to pick Senators.

ALEC politicians know that their extreme agenda of rolling back renewables, busting unions, and privatizing schools is not popular with the American public and doesn’t fly at the ballot box. No state, for instance, has approved school vouchers via the ballot box, education expert Diane Ravitch tell us.

It is not easy to pass a Constitutional Amendment or repeal one. Only Utah has passed a resolution urging the repeal of the 17th Amendment. But a repeal would give the GOP a supermajority in the U.S. Senate and a greatly enhanced ability to advance extremist policies.