In 1975, Congress created the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to provide a vehicle for state legislatures to jointly lobby Congress. Ideally, it could serve as a bulwark against further federal encroachment on state government. Like any organization that isn’t explicitly conservative, however, NCSL soon became a hard-left institution. Run by a very liberal staff, with the nominal bi-partisan membership dictated by Congress–every member of a state legislature is automatically a member of NCSL–it has leveraged support from labor unions, leftist foundations and rent-seeking corporations, combined with taxpayer support from every state, to lobby to expand the role of government in our lives. It is the most effective lobby to expand government that no one has ever heard of. That changes today.
While it provides some technical training for legislative staff across the country, NCSL’s most important work is in drafting hundreds of “policy positions” on virtually every issue touched by the federal government. These are crafted by state legislators and staff, with significant input from unions, corporations and interest groups. NCSL staff use these “positions” to try to shape federal legislation. While NCSL strives to appear bi-partisan, virtually all of its positions have a leftist tilt. It generally opposes federal legislation that imposes a conservative policy, e.g. tort reform, and supports legislation that imposes liberal policies, e.g health care mandates. In 2009, it shrugged off its bi-partisan veneer and came out strongly in support of ObamaCare and the “public option” for health insurance. And, you paid for it.
NCSL’s main stream of revenue comes from appropriations from state taxpayers. Each state is “accessed” dues based on a formula correlated generally with the size of the state. This stream from state taxpayers provides NCSL with around $20 million a year. It also collects a significant amount of revenue from federal grants. It has created a non-profit foundation, where labor unions, corporations and foundations can become “sponsors.”
Each year, NCSL hosts a massive annual conference, with thousands of state legislators, union and corporate lobbyists and vendors of products and services purchased by state government. Taxpayers pick up the tab for legislators to attend the meeting, which features dozens of panels on various issues and innumerable side meetings organized by special interests around specific issues. None of it is open to the public.
In the coming days, Breitbart will shine a light on NCSL, its activities and many of the positions for which it lobbies Congress. The fight against government encroachment in our lives is much bigger than most realize. An entire infrastructure has been built to advocate constantly for expanding government. To reverse this slide, we must begin to dismantle this infrastructure. NCSL is part of that.
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