In the past eight years, more than 10,000 bills have been almost exact copies of “model legislation”—bills drawn up by corporations and lobbyists to advance their interests—and over 2,100 of those bills eventually became law, according to a two-year investigation published Thursday by USA Today, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity. The bills, which allow lawmakers to pass legislation without having to navigate complex policy issues on their own, aren’t all nefarious: one “copycat” bill increased the consequences for human trafficking; another made it easier for military members to vote.
But in many cases, the bills allowed corporations to push legislation that harmed voters. A copycat bill that passed in Wisconsin green-lighted the slashing of pain-and-suffering compensation for injured, elderly nursing home residents. A copycat bill that passed in Arizona, the Asbestos Transparency Act, reportedly made it tougher for patients exposed to asbestos to sue a company whose products may have caused their resulting illness. “This work proves what many people have suspected, which is just how much of the democratic process has been outsourced to special interests,” Lisa Graves, co-director a group that investigates corporate manipulation of public policy, told the outlets. “It is both astonishing and disappointing to see how widespread ... it is. Good lord, it’s an amazing thing to see.”