The American City County Exchange—since 2014 an offshoot of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—describes itself as “America’s only non-partisan free market forum for village, town, city and county policymakers.”
As of 2015, ACCE operates as a “project” of ALEC, not a separate 501(c)(3). ALEC is funded by corporations which pay membership dues to have their lobbyists vote side-by-side with legislators on “model” bills, which legislators then introduce in their local jurisdictions. ACCE’s funding also appears to come almost entirely from its corporate members.
ALEC focuses on state legislatures; ACCE was launched to target city and county governments.
Thus far in North Carolina lawmakers have showed an unusual interest in interfering with local government affairs: (e.g., attempting to remove Charlotte’s authority over its airport and to transfer Asheville’s water system; they successfully forced Durham to extend water and sewer lines to a private development). Other bills have attempted to change the number and composition of the Greensboro City Council and the Wake County Commission.
The General Assembly has also introduced bills that attempt to limit local governments to raise revenue. It is an ACCE bill that outlaws local governments placing restrictions on industrial activities—like fracking and coal ash disposal.
The results of ALEC’s impact at the state level signal that the local level as well will see an increase in corporate power—thereby weakening the voices of local residents.