For the past 45 years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been at the forefront of creating conditions where policies that limit government intrusion in the lives of citizens, encourage free and open markets and return power to the states could flourish.
Reporting on our annual meeting, Politico shared “Why ALEC Matters” and characterized the leading state legislator organization as “a pivotal player in advancing conservative priorities in the states.” Thousands of state legislators and many millions of Americans who today have more opportunity for success could not agree more.
Throughout its history, state legislators have found ALEC to be a place for debate and learning where the best ideas catch fire and spread across the states.
In 1989, two ALEC members in Wisconsin crafted and passed a charter school bill that Governor Tommy Thompson, an ALEC alumnus, signed into law. Two years later, in 1991, 45 similar bills had been introduced across the states — each one by an ALEC member.
The legislative training ground provided at ALEC — focused on competency as a legislator rather than fundraising and community organizing — matters as much in Washington, D.C., as it does in the states across the nation.
Many of the Congressmen and women elected to office in the wave of 1994 and again in 2012 are ALEC alumni. And, their focus on collaboration with their colleagues in Washington and state legislators across the country has created a powerful legislative block focused on a stable and predictable business environment, less government and more freedom.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that during President Trump’s landmark tax reform, ALEC member legislators led the charge on eliminating the state and local tax deduction. And this year, they led the campaign against taxation without representation related to online sales tax. While ALEC and its members fought for less government and more freedom, the National Conference of State Legislatures, another state organization, opposed tax reductions in both cases.
ALEC is able to play this key role in advancing priorities across the nation for one reason: our membership. ALEC state legislators set the agenda; the issues that matter in states around the nation are ALEC’s issues. This is why the model policy process is such an effective tool for ALEC members.
At the most recent meeting, ALEC members passed 64 new policies, including approving adult stem cell research for people suffering from chronic diseases, requiring insurance exchanges to be more transparent, and lowering economic barriers to market entry for occupational licensing. ALEC task forces cover issue sets ranging from broadband internet adoption to fiscal responsibility and federalism.
Like our nation, ALEC is a place of diverse ideas and people. The lessons and values ALEC members take away from their experiences remain, even as they progress to higher office.
ALEC is proud to have the support of thousands of current members in state legislatures around the nation, as well as an alumni network on both sides of the aisle. This network includes over 100 sitting members of Congress, nine governors, and a host of administration officials, ensuring ALEC remains the most pivotal player in state policy. ALEC members have a 45-year track record of results because we bring the best ideas forward.
Our national political dialogue has never been more fraught with vitriol. The intensity gap has never been wider; clashes over national policy dominate all mediums and seem omnipresent in the American political landscape.
Despite the sound and the fury outside of it, ALEC brings people together by facilitating discussions that result in real solutions, from charter school bills to helping deliver on the President’s tax-cutting efforts. This effectiveness has been the hallmark of our organization since its formation 45 years ago.
As ALEC celebrates its 45th anniversary, it seeks to draw input from new voices now more than ever as our country’s partisan divide continues to widen. Some may intentionally disregard our body of work and its positive outcome. The truth is ALEC policies are designed to increase freedom and opportunity for all Americans.
Since the days of our founding, ALEC has sought to take on great challenges by sharing innovative ideas. As we move forward through the 21st century, this mindset and partnership with ALEC will be crucial in spreading new policy ideas to states around the nation. After all, that’s why ALEC matters.
Lisa Nelson is CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.