Visa was corporate sponsor of Senator Jeb Bradley’s ALEC model bill this past year to abolish paper paychecks in New Hampshire (since defeated)
Concord, NH – In the wake of a major Guardian expose this week about corporate-funded bill factory the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate sponsor of Senator Jeb Bradley’s ALEC model bill to abolish paper paychecks in New Hampshire has dropped its ALEC corporate membership.
In the 2013 session Senator Bradley sponsored SB 100, which would have abolished paper paycheck options in New Hampshire and pushed employees without bank accounts over to payroll cards with few to no consumer protections. Payroll cards act as a form of debit cards, often carrying a brand such as Visa or Mastercard, and are used as such – right down to the fees for withdrawals, payments and balance checks. Corporations like Visa have been eager to transition workers from paychecks to payroll cards to collect more fees from the transactions, including transaction fees charged at local businesses who accept the cards for payment. At ALEC meetings in 2010 and 2011, Visa introduced model bills and resolutions on payroll cards that would hurt workers and small businesses – similar to legislation that was then introduced in New Hampshire.
This week Visa dropped its corporate membership in ALEC, just one year after Visa’s Vice President of State Relations, Paul Russinoff, received ALEC’s “Private Sector Member of the Year” award. Visa joins a list of 60 corporate members who have dropped ALEC membership – and financial support – in the past two years in the wake of growing awareness and controversy over ALEC’s activities. According to The Guardian expose, “in the first six months of this year [ALEC] suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.”
“We applaud Visa’s decision to stop financially supporting ALEC, and we call on New Hampshire legislators to also stop enabling the corporate corruption of our legislative process,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “We knew that ALEC was bad news for New Hampshire families and small businesses, but The Guardian expose highlights that ALEC is worse than we thought. New Hampshire legislators should have no part in advancing a special interest agenda that attacks working families, the environment, and the very foundations of our democracy.”
More about Sen. Bradley’s ALEC Model bill:
At ALEC’s August 2010 meeting, Visa proposed a bill called the “Electronic Pay Free Choice Act” that would allow employers to pay workers with fee-laden payroll debit cards. And at an ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force meeting in 2011, a lobbyist from Visa brought forward a resolution in support of payroll cards that called in part for fewer consumer protections around them.
New Hampshire’s SB 100 would have been purposefully harmful to employees, creating additional fees and expenses for them to collect and use their paycheck, and specifically avoiding sharing that information upfront. Senator Jeb Bradley was the prime sponsor of the ALEC model bill in the past two sessions. Rep. Gary Daniels, a long-time ALEC member and current ALEC State Co-Chair, is a member of the ALEC task force that approved the resolution. Daniels wrote the minority blurb in support of SB 100 and spoke in its favor on the House floor.