The attacks on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have grown louder over the past few months and even more so over the past few weeks.
Given that most people are focused on the more important issues of serving the Lord, taking care of their family, and trying to keep food on the table and gas in the car, I would imagine most have put little if any focus on this issue.
So, first I would like to cover what ALEC is.
ALEC is an organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and the vigorous exchange of ideas between the public and private sectors to develop state-based solutions. This is the public relations language and it is true, but my view of ALEC is that it's just an opportunity for a great bunch of people — men and women, Republicans and Democrats, people of all races and beliefs — to come together to share ideas on what made this country great and how we can keep from losing that very thing.
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My first experience with ALEC has stayed with me the 10 years since I was first elected. I don't know if you have ever had the intense feeling of, "I'm the dog who finally caught the car, and now what?" Well, when you're first elected, that's how you feel. So being invited to go to an ALEC event to share ideas and information with people who thought like I did was a great benefit to me.
Since most legislatures, including Kentucky's, are citizen legislatures, it is important to find ways to help new members get on their feet quickly as well as help current members stay informed about issues and changes.
There are three major organizations that Kentucky legislators use to help with this need: the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Southern Legislative Conference, and ALEC. Labels are rarely fully accurate, but NCSL and SLC tend to lean more toward larger government solutions and ALEC toward smaller government and free market solutions. All serve a similar (but not the same) purpose and I have attended each at least once.
It is not my intention to attack NCSL or SLC but merely to draw a comparison to the attacks to help people understand that the attacks on ALEC are based not on substance but on an overwhelming desire of some to destroy those who disagree with the way they believe.
You see, those attacking ALEC have not said one thing about the other groups because they are more in line with their thoughts. The funniest aspect is Common Cause's statement that ALEC is wasting taxpayer's dollars.
Kentucky pays annual dues to NCSL and SLC in the amount of $174,596 and $134,173, respectively. Kentucky has paid the membership dues of some ALEC members in the amount of $1,950 every two years. Once again, this is not a slam on the other two, but I think ALEC is a much better bargain for Kentucky taxpayers.
Finally, I hope people see what these attacks truly are — a desire to silence open debate, which is what has made socialist countries not so great.