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William (Bill) Howell

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William (Bill) Howell is a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He is the Speaker of the House and he also represents the 28th House District. [1]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Speaker Howell is on the Board of Directors of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of September 2014 (and has been since 2003)[2] and is the former National Chairman.[3]

In April 2012, Speaker Howell strongly defended ALEC at a press conference in Richmond, Virginia, saying that it had "been subjected to a six-month attack by liberal groups, including the Occupy movement, Moveon.org and billionaire George Soros." He also called a report on ALEC activities in Virginia produced by the advocacy group ProgressVA "inaccurate." After the press conference, ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl asked the Speaker for clarification of what in the report was inaccurate. After an exchange in which he didn't answer the question and Scholl repeated it, Howell responded to Scholl, "I guess I’m not speaking in little enough words for you to understand."[4] Speaker Howell publicly apologized afterwards for having responded "in a manner that was not consistent with my own standards of civility or reflective of the way I believe discussions over public policy disagreements should be conducted."[5]

In 2001, he received the ALEC "State Legislator of the Year" Award, and in 2014 he received the William J. Raggio Excellence in Leadership and Outstanding Service Award.[6] In August 2011, he spoke on the "Exploring ALEC positions on E-commerce and E-taxes" panel at the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting in New Orleans.[7]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.


Pro-ALEC Editorial

In August 2011, The Roanoke Times published an editorial saying that ALEC:

does not just work with lawmakers to develop legislation. It serves as a pricey clearinghouse for bills nationwide. . . .
It all occurs mostly behind closed doors. ALEC's membership lists are confidential. Precisely which special interests are paying for privileged access and a chance to write legislation remains secret.
Some legislative members can be identified either because they sponsor ALEC bills or sign onto other ALEC projects. For example, Virginia Speaker of the House Bill Howell has ties to the group.
This sort of shadow government ill serves the public. It is one thing for lawmakers to work openly with special interests crafting legislation that meets specific needs. It is another thing entirely when they do it through a special club that completely lacks transparency.[8]

Speaker Howell responded almost two weeks later with an article, also published by The Roanoke Times, saying that, "as a former national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council, I take strong exception to the factual inaccuracies in the editorial 'Who writes Virginia's laws?' on Aug. 4" and insisting that "ALEC is a transparent, nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free markets, limited government and individual liberty. The Virginia General Assembly enacts all laws in an entirely open and democratic manner, and your suggesting otherwise totally misleads the public." He goes on to write:

Rather than bashing job-creating businesses as you do, ALEC believes a vibrant private sector is good for the economy and job creation, and when faced with policy decisions that have an enormous effect on our society, legislators like me believe we should hear from those who are affected. . . .
ALEC publicly engages its broad membership of state legislators and private-sector participants in forming recommendations and suggested state policy initiatives. Interested legislators and private-sector members participate in one of nine ALEC task forces. Each task force addresses specific issues that concern both state government and those being governed. The task forces collaborate to adopt model legislation reflecting the ALEC principles of free markets, limited government and individual liberty.
While private-sector members have a voice at the initial task force level, after model legislation leaves the task force, they have no procedural role whatsoever. Indeed, the only voting members of the ALEC board of directors are the 23 legislative members from across the country, and it is they who ultimately make the final decision on advancing model legislation.[9]

In fact, however, ALEC's "Task Force Operating Procedures," which were handed out at Task Force meetings during the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting, state that "model bills or resolutions shall become ALEC policy either: (1) upon adoption by the Task Force and affirmation by the Board of Directors or (2) thirty days after adoption by the Task Force if no member of the Board of Directors requests, within those thirty days, a formal review by the Board of Directors."[10] In other words, model legislation may pass from adoption to the Task Force to publication as official ALEC model legislation without formal review by the Board of Directors.

In January, 2011, Speaker Howell was instrumental in the drafting of House Joint Resolution 542, the "Repeal Amendment."[11] This resolution can be compared to ALEC's "Resolution Calling for the Congress of the United States to Call a Constitutional Convention Pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution to Propose a Constitutional Amendment Permitting Repeal of any Federal Law or Regulation by Vote of Two-Thirds of the State Legislatures."[12][13]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

External articles

References

  1. William J. Howell, WilliamJHowell.org, Accessed July 7, 2011.
  2. American Legislative Exchange Council, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed September 2014.
  3. Bill Howell, ALEC contributes to an open, democratic process, The Roanoke Times, August 15, 2011
  4. Anita Kumar, Virginia House speaker William Howell said conservative group ALEC is ‘under attack’ by liberals, Washington Post, April 12, 2012
  5. Speaker William J. Howell, Commonwealth of Virginia House of Delegates, Statement of Speaker William J. Howell Following Remarks at Yesterday’s ALEC Press Conference, press release, April 13, 2012
  6. American Legislative Exchange Council, Speaker William J. Howell Awarded with the William J. Raggio Excellence in Leadership and Outstanding Service Award by the American Legislative Exchange Council, organizational press release, August 1, 2014.
  7. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Exploring ALEC positions on E-commerce and E-taxes," panelist biographies and materials, August 5, 2011, on file with CMD
  8. Who writes Virginia's laws?, The Roanoke Times, August 4, 2011
  9. Bill Howell, ALEC contributes to an open, democratic process, The Roanoke Times, August 15, 2011
  10. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Task Force Operating Procedures," organizational document (on file with CMD), revised May 2009, p. 11
  11. Virginia Legislature, HJR 542, state legislation, offered January 12, 2011
  12. American Legislative Exchange Council, Resolution Calling for the Congress of the United States to Call a Constitutional Convention Pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution to Propose a Constitutional Amendment Permitting Repeal of any Federal Law or Regulation by Vote of Two-Thirds of the State Legislatures, model legislation exposed by the Center for Media and Democracy, July 13, 2011
  13. Bill Howell, Va. House of Delegates Passes Repeal Amendment 59-34 to put Needed Check & Balance on Federal Government, press release, January 25, 2011
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