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Copy Cat Legislation

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If you follow state-level politics, you are probably familiar with the idea of “model legislation.” This is when someone, usually a lobbying group or think tank, creates a bill that can be copied and pasted among legislators in varying states with little or no changes. The practice is most closely associated with the notorious conservative group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is known for writing bills and sending them home with legislators from their lavish retreats.The practice of model legislation and its association with ALEC first gained mainstream attention in 2012 after the shooting of Trayvon Martin. When Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, was initially not charged due to a law in Florida few people had heard of called “Stand Your Ground,” reporters and activists did some digging and discovered Stand Your Ground laws had originated with ALEC and been passed in 24 states.ALEC’s model bills often serve two purposes. In the first case, these bills are sim…