The Commonwealth Foundation’s latest attack on public sector unionism is part of a national offensive coordinated by the conservative state think tanks in the State Policy Network. The Commonwealth Foundation is one of nine think-tanks that have pursued – or are pursuing – collective bargaining transparency laws. They include Ryan Aument’s SB 643, Mike Folmer’s SB 644 and Patrick Stefano’s 645 These laws aim neuter the collective bargaining process for public sector unions by opening the negotiating process to sunshine laws and force unions to publish demands two before negotiations and one month after talks are finalized and attaching an independent fiscal office report to negotiations.
At Wednesday’s Senate State Government Committee, the committee passed one of these transparency laws (SB 643) by a 7-4 party line vote, and committee leader Mike Folmer explained that Pennsylvania should move forward with this law because eight other states have done the same thing. Folmer then rattled off the eight states: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
The legislation that Senators Ryan Aument and Patrick Stefano and the Commonwealth Foundation are selling Pennsylvanians come from the same place where the other eight got their model legislation. The Koch Brother funded American Legislative Exchange Council. More specifically, Patrick Stefano’s Senate Bill 645 is pretty much the same exact bill coming from ALEC’s model legislation. It just has more words and a slight change in the title.
As mentioned above, the Commonwealth Foundation is part of the State Policy Network and the other eight states involved in this push have their own conservative think tanks peddling collective bargaining transparency legislation. Alaska has their Alaska Policy Forum, Colorado has their Independence Institute, Florida has its “Foundation for Government Accountability,” Idaho and the Idaho Freedom Foundation, Illinois and the Illinois Policy Institute, Iowa and the Public Interest Institute, Kansas and the Kansas Policy Institute, Montana and it’s Policy Institute, Ohio and the Buckeye Institute and Washington with the Freedom Foundation.
One state that was a point of emphasis during yesterday’s hearing was Colorado because they passed this legislation through a freedom loving, democratic ballot initiative. However, this was pushed through with the help of conservative activists and the Independence Institute.
In some form, these are all of the conservative think-tanks pushing for collective bargaining transparency laws. These laws come from the same national institutions that have been pushing right-to-work and paycheck protection laws. Those model bills then find their way onto the State Policy Network’s agenda and conservative think tanks like the Commonwealth Foundation are pushing these bills onto working families.