Special Interests Write Laws, States Fill In Blanks

Bill templating an increasingly common practice
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2010 11:05 AM CST
A modified screenshot of a health care reform bill template from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

(Newser) – There’s a decent chance your state lawmakers aren’t writing the bills they’re sponsoring—they’re pulling them off the Internet and filling in the blanks. Bill templates are becoming an increasingly common way for special interests from both sides of the political spectrum to influence local legislatures, Townhall.com reports. Groups will simply write a law, post it online, and let lawmakers write in their local details in the blanks.

Thirty states, for example, have introduced a Health Care bill sent out by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. Liberal groups have criticized ALEC for being too close to industry interests, but even the bills from the non-partisan Council of State Governments often bear industry fingerprints. That group doesn’t recommend using the laws as-is, warning that they could contain hidden gifts for industries. “It’s really meant as a guide,” says one member, “so that local legislatures don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

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