Today, Minnesota state representative Ryan Winkler and a covey of DFLers introduced HF121, the lower chamber's companion to a state senate bill requiring any individual or group that "drafts, promotes, or distributes model legislation to any public official of this state with the purpose of influencing a public official to introduce the legislation or vote in favor of the legislation" to register as a lobbyist or principal of the lobbyist.
This is the "ALEC Law" intended to make the origin of legislation more transparent. It matters not if the bill is cooked up by corporate bill factory American Legislative Exchange Council, an environmental organization or a union, Minnesotans would know what cat drug that bird in.
Or maybe not.
Earlier this month, Bluestem noted in "Anti-venom": Cornish bills for college carry & packing pedagogues to get committee hearing that the honorable representative from Good Thunder or thereabouts is threatening to once more introduce a bill that would prevent public postsecondary colleges from banning the carrying and possession of firearms by students on school property ( lawfully possessed guns are currently allowed in cars in campus parking lots).
Cornish first introduced the bill to a chorus of news reports across the land in April 2008, on the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. And from whence came the law?
Minneapolis Star Tribune staff reporter Pat Doyle reported in More guns, safer campus:
The proposal by Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, faces an uphill climb but reflects a national movement among gun advocates and some students to overturn prohibitions on students carrying weapons at college.
Contradicting the prevailing view and policies of Minnesota universities, the gun supporters argue that trained, armed students would prevent or minimize violence on campus.
Alex Tripp, a student at Minnesota State University, Mankato, who is active in the effort to allow students to carry guns, cited the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University in a recent letter to Cornish urging a change in state law.
. . .Tripp, a 21-year-old junior, is a member of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, which claims 25,000 members nationwide.
At that time, the group was still young. In February 2008, a spokester for the Brady campaign had claimed that the gun industry was covertly sponsoring the student organization; it fired back with tales of meager funding--less than $700 gathered from poor students' donations. The group did advocate for the repeal of campus carry prohibitions across the country. The group has since shortened its name to Students for Concealed Carry.
While it's still a volunteer organization, its fundraising seems a bit more sophisticated. Hard to say if its spend would trip the threshold for registering as a lobby principal in Minnesota.
Cornish didn't re-introduce the bill in the 86th or 87th legislature. We can't say exactly why that might be--other than the fact that it did come up in the 2008 campaign, when John Branstad come within striking distance of Cornish. Robb Murray of the Mankato Free Press reported in "Big issues, poor turnout: MnSCU a hot topic":
Rep. Tony Cornish separated himself from the herd.
At a candidates debate at Minnesota State University Monday, Cornish reiterated his much-publicized view that if more students carried guns, fewer school shootings would result, and in the ones that took place, fewer lives would be lost.
In fact, he told the small audience gathered for the debate that, if a gunman entered the debate room this very instance, " there'd be nobody here who could save you except for me, or somebody else with a handgun."
His comment came in response to a moderator's question about handguns on campus, a question each candidate addressed. . . .
None of the others said they'd go as far as Cornish on the gun issue, although Bidwell and Jordan said they'd consider limited gun possession on campus, such as Jordan's suggestion that it be limited to faculty
And Branstad objected to Cornish's reference to colleges as " killing zones." He said he's spoken with campus security experts who have said arming students is not the best way to solve the problem.
"I'm sure they would take issue with calling a college campus a 'killing zone,' " he said. (Mankato Free Press, October 21, 2008, Nexis All-News, accessed January 22, 2013)
After that, Cornish grew uncharacteristically reticent with the bill unti lhis latest rumbling.
But there's more to the story here. About a month after Cornish threw this hot mess into the hopper in April 2008, the NRA-ILA reported on the national gun rights group's website in ALEC Task Force Adopts Model "Campus Personal Protection Act":
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an organization comprised of public and private sector members (largely made up of state legislators and corporate/association government affairs representatives) from all 50 states that share common support for free market principles and individual liberties.
At ALEC's recent Spring Task Force Summit in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Criminal Justice Task Force unanimously adopted a model "Campus Personal Protection Act." Brought forth by NRA-ILA, the act calls for the repeal of state restrictions on the possession of firearms by valid concealed handgun licensees on college and university campuses and preempts governing bodies of postsecondary educational institutions from imposing such restrictions on permit holders. This Act will officially become ALEC "Model Legislation" in 30 days if there is no objection from ALEC's Board of Directors.
In Five Days Before Latest College Shooting, TX Legislator Introduced ALEC/NRA Bill to Allow Guns on Campus, PRWatch's Brendan Fischer reminds America today of hat part of the provenance of the 2013 bill.
And looking over the model bill on the ALEXexposed website, Bluestem isn't surprised to learn that like Cornish's month-younger bill, this language is esstential a "repealer" bill calling for language to be stricken from the statutes of whatever state in which it flopped.
The ALEC board officially adopted the Campus Personal Protection Act as a template for state law 30 days later.
This complicated parentage raises certain questions about the Winkler "model bill" proposal. Of course, it's not a law yet, so the following questions are totally hypothetical, but might be asked in commitee.
Did Representative Cornish snag his model bill from an ALEC packet prepared for the Spring Summit in Hot Springs, Arkansas, held in mid-May 2008? Although he's a keen advocate of high-profile ALEC model bills like Stand Your Ground and Voter ID, there's no direct evidence trying him to the organization. Another Minnesota Republican legislator might have brought to to his attention--or perhaps a private sector ALEC member. They don't have to uncloak themselves under current law, so it's hard to discern.
Did the national student organization pass the idea along to the NRA and ALEC? In 2008, they claimed that they didn't work with the NRA. Or did eager ALEC members in the thirteen states where the student group brought the language forward?
Perhaps these things simply evolve independently, like the parallel eyeballs of different and unrelated creature on land and sea.
More interesting questions about the bill's paternity remain. If the Winkler bill were in place, would Students for Concealed Carry get the lobbying credit for campuscarry? Would ALEC?
Or would we simply forget about the notion of a lobbyist and model bill, and grant to Cornish that he is, in the enduring wisdom of the classic Ray Stevens cover, his own grandpa?
Photo: Tony Cornish. Should we even ask who's that bill's daddy?
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