By now you’ve probably seen this report by 11Alive on a recent meeting of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, down in Savannah. You also might have seen this article claiming the meeting was a “bill writing meeting.” These report made it look as if something evil and nefarious went on there. I wasn’t there but I have been to other ALEC meetings in the past and know what happens.
A couple of years ago I wrote about the political Left’s hatred (there’s no other word for it) of ALEC. It’s sad to see 11Alive and the AJC pick up the “ALEC is evil” narrative. As I’ve written before, conferences like the ones ALEC puts on are valuable, especially to part-time Legislators. They help us keep up with advances in technology, learn about how other states are solving problems, how we might help us solve similar problems in our state, hear from experts in various fields, and network with legislators from across the country.
The political Left finds value in this too as evidenced by the fact they have started several organizations to do EXACTLY what ALEC does – exchange ideas and craft model legislation. I’ve written about that as well, and also learned of the Left’s newest attempt to compete with ALEC. You know what, I applaud these efforts. Sharing, debating ideas, learning from industry experts and other legislators are good things. What bothers me is the the twisting of what ALEC is and does and the lack of scrutiny of left-leaning groups doing the exact same things as ALEC.
If ALEC is bad, so are left-leaning legislative policy conferences, but I haven’t see any stories about Georgia Legislators attending left-leaning policy conferences. That fact alone should make people pause before believing all the terrible allegations about ALEC.
Erick Erickson spoke with Bill Meierling of ALEC last Thursday and cast doubt on several items in the 11Alive story. Most notably, why didn’t the 11Alive reporter simply comply with ALEC’s media availability policy? I realize that’s not as dramatic as attempting to barge into a room, but it would have been a more accurate report. Listen for yourself:
One other point I’d like to raise. There are dozens and dozens of legislative policy conferences every year in America. They can either be funded with private funds or public funds. Georgia doesn’t, but many states help fund some of these organizations with tax dollars. I oppose public funding of these types of conferences. In my opinion, tax dollars should be used for the public good, not to enhance my education – especially in tight budget times. Thus, I support private and corporate funding of legislative policy conferences. ALEC receives no taxpayer funds to my knowledge, which opponents claim is one of the things that makes them bad. I wholeheartedly disagree with that notion. Furthermore, the fact that ALEC offers scholarship funds for people to attend is common practice at legislative policy conferences. I hate to break it to you but not all legislators are rich folks with extra money laying around to attend policy conferences. Scholarships play an important role in making sure more legislators attend these meetings.
Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps the government should fully fund all legislative policy conferences to avoid the influence of evil corporations. Or only rich people should be allowed to be Legislators. Or better yet, conservatives shouldn’t be allowed to meet together to discuss policy.
That’s my opinion. I welcome yours.