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Investigation Finds Virginia Lawmakers Passed Nearly 100 ‘Copycat’ Bills

The General Assembly passed nearly 100 bills since 2010 that were nearly identical to so-called model bills prepared by special interest groups. That’s according to a  new investigation by USA TODAY and the Arizona Republic.

Special interest groups often prepare a draft of legislation that they circulate to lawmakers across the country. The investigation found that those lawmakers often copied sections of those model bills word for word.

Virginia ranked fourth in the country for passing copycat model bills. USA TODAY hasn’t released a state-by-state breakdown of which bills were passed here. But it does say legislation put forward by industry groups was particularly common compared to bills advanced by conservative or liberal groups.

In all, the newspaper’s reporters found lawmakers proposed these bills at least 10,000 times across the country, but they say the true number is likely far higher. Some of the model legislation rolled out across the country includes legislation that makes it harder for consumers to sue over asbestos exposure and a bill banning cities from raising the minimum wage.

Ben Paviour covers state politics for VPM News with a focus on accountability journalism.