ALEC Digital Exchange 11-21-2013

ALEC’s weekly email update for the week of 11-21-2013

Only TWO WEEKS Until the States and Nation Policy Summit



These speakers will join us at this year’s Summit:

The Honorable Paul Ryan, WI (CD-1)  

The Honorable Ron Johnson, Senator for Wisconsin
The Honorable Ted Cruz, Senator for Texas

The Honorable Matt Mead, Governor of Wyoming

The Honorable Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai
The Honorable Mark Green, TN (SD-22)

Below is a list of other SNPS receptions and meetings: 


The Thomas Jefferson Reception – Wednesday, December 4 

Hats off to Texas: A 41st Annual Meeting Preview Reception – Wednesday, December 4

Jingle Bell Rock: The ALEC Holiday Party Thursday, December 5

Task Force Meetings – December 5-6, following the Plenary Lunches


Click here to view the full agenda of speakers and events to plan your trip.


All events and receptions may only be attended by those registered for the full conference.   


Spots are filling quickly. Register today to secure your spot in this year’s Summit. 

600 px line

TODAY: Digital Learning Webinar, 1 p.m. ET


Interested in bringing digital learning options to schools in your area?

Join today’s free webinar featuring Utah Senator Howard Stephenson (SD-11) and Don Lee of K12, Inc.

Today’s webinar will examine strategies for state legislators to advance digital learning and discuss examples of successfully deployed software.

To attend today’s digital learning webinar at 1 pm. ET, please RSVP to Ed Walton at
600 px line

Newly Released: State Tax Cut Roundup

The Center for State Fiscal Reform has released a new report detailing recent state tax reforms: 2013 Tax Cut Roundup. Click here to download the full report.

See what others are saying about the Tax Cut Roundup:

The Washington Post: The 18 states that cut taxes in 2013

The Dallas Morning News: How many states cut taxes this year? Texas and 17 others

Washington Examiner: 18 states cut taxes in 2013, giving up on Washington’s help

600 px line
More Than Scores: Why Parents Choose Private Schools

A new report by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice finds that standardized test scores are not a top concern for school choice parents.

In More Than Scores: An Analysis of Why and How Parents Choose Private Schools, over 750 families participating in Georgia’s GOAL Scholarship Program discussed reasons they chose the private school option, OTHER than standardized test scores:

  • “better student discipline” (50.9 percent),
  • “better learning environment” (50.8 percent),
  • “smaller class sizes” (48.9 percent),
  • “improved student safety” (46.8 percent), and
  • “more individual attention for my child” (39.3 percent).

Download the full report here.

600 px line

American Legislative Exchange Council in the news  


COMMUNICATIONS DAILY: Taking the Lead: Privacy, Cybersecurity Models to Dominate ALEC Discussion at State Summit


Reproduced by permission of Warren Communications News, Inc., 800-771-9202,


Privacy and digital rights will dominate the discussion at the American Legislative Exchange

Council’s States and Nation Policy Summit in December. Talk will focus on the need for privacy regulations in the states after the National Security Agency surveillance leaks, said North Dakota Rep. Blair Thoreson (R), public chair of the Communications and Technology Task Force. State legislators will learn more about best practices for cybersecurity and interconnection in the Internet protocol transition, said Thoreson.


The Electronic Data Privacy Protection Act will be discussed at the meeting as part of a yearlong attempt to educate states on privacy laws, said John Stephenson, the task force director. ALEC’s model legislation seeks to clarify requirements for searches of electronic messages, mobile devices incident to arrest, and obtaining geolocation information. “States are taking the lead in these issues, and we expect to see more bills in terms of what governments can obtain without a warrant,” said Stephenson. The NSA leaks over the past six months have made this issue more important because Americans know that the government can spy on them, said Thoreson. “This issue continues to become more important as technology continues to advance in new ways that could invade the privacy of Americans,” said Thoreson.


The state awareness on cybersecurity needs will also be a topic at the meeting, said Stephenson.

Maryland’s and Michigan’s governors have developed policies for the National Governors Association, and they’re sharing them to develop best practices for all states (CD Aug 6 p5), he said. “For my state’s budget, we had lengthy discussions with the Information Technology Department, and we have been able to protect the data of residents in our state,” said Thoreson. “State policymakers need to work with the state executive branch to make sure that data is protected.” ALEC’s best practices draft calls for effective cybersecurity measures to reflect the global, borderless, interconnected nature of cyberspace, measures capable of responding and adapting to new technologies, measures to focus directly on threats and bad actors, measures to focus awareness and risk management, and measures to build upon public-private partnerships.


The rights of digital equipment owners and small businesses to repair digital equipment will be discussed for the first time at this meeting, said Stephenson. “Copyright issues are an Article 1 power of Congress, but it has been raised at the state level, and we want to provide a forum for the benefit of the state legislators to be a resource for them on this issue,” said Stephenson. The draft resolution says it is an “affront to the principles of free markets and to private property rights” for states to unnecessarily interfere with the right to repair digital products, and it calls for increased transparency and clarity from digital products manufacturers on “the terms and conditions of use, warranties, and license agreements for their products prior to purchase to assist consumers in making informed purchasing decisions.”


The task force was initially going to take up taxes on software and services at its December meeting, but it had to table the discussion when a legislator asked for a panel on interconnection and the Internet protocol transition, said Stephenson. Representatives from ILECs, CLECs and the IP world will be on hand to answer questions on the transition, said Stephenson. “With states tackling the issues of TDM to IP and VoIP, legislators need to learn more about these policy issues,” said Stephenson.


Digital decedent law will also be tackled in terms of social media rights, said Stephenson. “States

are now trying to figure out how to look at social networks and not break the law,” he said. “Cyberbullying and cyberstalking could also be addressed in our discussion.” ALEC’s model legislation would provide access or copies of the contents of a deceased’s electronic mail account authorized upon a written request to the electronic mail provider by the states and the order of the state court.


Public-private partnerships will also be part of a discussion by ALEC’s Innovation subcommittee to determine how state universities can utilize their resources, said Thoreson. State efforts on patent reforms will be also discussed as the debate heats up in Congress, said Stephenson. “With the growth of patents and startup companies, we will learn about the extraordinary growth that these efforts can generate in the tech arena,” said Stephenson. – Sara Friedman (  



Patent trolls spell trouble for America’s economy


Utah State Senator Curt Bramble, Chair of the Task Force on International Relations Intellectual Property Subcommittee, explains how “patent trolls” inhibit innovation and economic growth – two characteristics that patents typically foster – in his latest column in Reuters. Even more alarming – with the creation of government-sponsored patent trolls (GSPTs), which are financially backed by a national government, patent trolls have gone global:


Patent trolls, which can either be companies or government-sponsored organizations, are entities that buy large patent portfolios – not to use the patents to create new products, but to generate revenue by filing meritless lawsuits against people who have allegedly infringed on their patents. These tactics are aggressive and often unethical, and the suits rarely have the evidence needed to win at trial. Defendants prevail in 92 percent of adjudicated patent troll-initiated lawsuits. Unfortunately, 86 percent of these suits settle out of court because patent trolls tend to target smaller companies and end users, which can rarely afford the lengthy litigation associated with these types of suits.


Read the full post here.






Is It The End Of The Line For The Landline?


NPR’s Martian Kaste interviewed John Stephenson, director of the Task Force on Communications and Technology, on America’s traditional phone system and how it may not be as dependable as it used to be. Just last month, the FCC told phone companies to start collecting stats on calls that fail to connect:


‘Those [rules] were written at a time when consumers had no choice in the matter,’ says John Stephenson, director of the Communications and Technology Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council. That organization pushes for smaller government, and Stephenson says fewer regulations for Internet-based phones will lead to more investment in broadband Internet service.


‘If we were to clear the underbrush of these rules written long before the Internet was even a word,’ Stephenson contends, ‘there would be a lot more broadband deployed to the United states, and things that are even better that we can’t conceive of today.’


ALEC has been quite successful, writing model legislation for states seeking to deregulate Internet phone service. Stephenson counts 29 states that have ‘modernized’ their laws in this regard.



Read the full article here.

600 px line

Task Force Tours  


On Monday, Jonathan Williams, director of the Center for State Fiscal Reform, attended an event hosted by Institute to Reduce Spending as a member of their Advisory Board in New York City.

600 px line

This Week’s Hot Reads


Health site woes show Washington misses out on cutting edge tech

November 19, 2013 – Reuters  

America needs its shale energy and hydraulic fracturing provides it

November 19, 2013 – The Hill 

George W. Bush on Keystone pipeline: ‘Build the damn thing’

November 19, 2013 – The Washington Times 

Obamacare gap hits many of America’s poorest

November 18, 2013 – Yahoo! Finance 

Fracking Boom Gives U.S. Geopolitical Leverage

November 14, 2013 – National Public Radio 

U.S. looking into cybersecurity incidents targeting Obamacare website

November 13, 2013 – Yahoo! News
600 px line
What’s New on The American Legislator Blog?

Header - American Legislator

In case you missed it this week on our American Legislator 
blog, Andrew Bender, legislative analyst for the Center for State Fiscal Reform, writes about how voters favored fiscal responsibility and taxpayer protection this past election cycle:


Since there were no federal offices up for election last week and only a handful of statewide races, you may have missed many of the results.


Across the country this election cycle, voters considered raising income and sales taxes, raising the minimum wage, whether or not to add to a state’s current debt level, or to refuse these changes in favor of fiscal responsibility and taxpayer protection. The National Taxpayers Union has put together a great list of the ‘good, bad, and ugly’ of last week’s election.


Read the full blog post here.