More on ALEC

The AJC takes a look.

Georgia state Rep. Jill Chambers flew home this weekend with much of what she needs to push a proposal that would create virtual charter schools in Georgia, including a copy of a ready-made bill.

The Atlanta Republican picked up the idea and the model bill from a powerhouse conservative group that has quietly changed the way many laws are hatched in Georgia and other states. The organization, with a staff of 30 and a $5.5 million yearly budget, teams lawmakers up with corporate interests to push decidedly pro-business bills through state legislatures.

Any lawmaker who is a member of the group can simply log on to its Web site and find hundreds of bills to copy. They can shop for ideas on how to curb class-action lawsuits, help the telecommunications industry or toughen the criminal justice system.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, which ended its annual convention in Grapevine with a prayer breakfast Sunday, wields considerable influence in Georgia’s newly Republican Legislature. And Georgia’s stature within the organization has grown, too. State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) became its national chairman this year, and the number of Georgia lawmakers who are members now tops 100.