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Legislative Group Ends Panel Backing ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

The American Legislative Exchange Council said it will disband a task force that shaped “Stand Your Ground” laws such as one now under scrutiny in Florida, after the departure of corporate members including Coca-Cola Co. (KO) and Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT)

The Washington-based policy group will instead use the money now spent on its public safety and elections task force to focus on economic issues, according to its chairman, David Frizzell, a Republican state representative from Indiana.

“While we recognize there are other critical, non-economic issues that are vitally important to millions of Americans, we believe we must concentrate on initiatives that spur competitiveness and innovation and put more Americans back to work,” Frizzell said yesterday in a news release.

ALEC lets corporate representatives work with state lawmakers to draft bills that legislators then try to enact in their states. Corporate membership costs up to $25,000 a year.

One such measure, championed by the National Rifle Association, permits the use of deadly force by individuals who say they feel threatened and choose not to back down from a confrontation. In Florida, which enacted a Stand Your Ground law, George Zimmerman said he acted out of self-defense in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager.

Following the Martin shooting in Sanford, a coalition of civil rights and other organizations have urged companies to withdraw their financial support of ALEC.

Business Issues

Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft and Atlanta-based Coca- Cola both said in statements announcing their decisions to end their ALEC memberships that their only involvement with the group was on issues affecting their businesses.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association announced yesterday that it won’t renew its ALEC membership. The Chicago- based association said in a statement that the decision was made “as part of our budgeting process.”

Other ALEC members, including Atlanta-based United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) and Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), said they won’t leave the organization.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at 1832 or jsalant@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net.

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