Q: What is the American Legislative Exchange Council?
A: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It provides a constructive forum for state legislators and private sector leaders to discuss and exchange practical, state-level public policy issues. The potential solutions discussed at ALEC focus on free markets, limited government and constitutional division of powers between the federal and state governments. The organization respects diversity of thought; it is a non-partisan resource for its members, which include more than 2,000 Republican and Democratic state legislators.
Q: What does ALEC do and on what issues?
A: ALEC is a think-tank for state-based public policy issues and potential solutions. It publishes research and writing on issues that are of importance to its members. It holds meetings where people from public and private sectors share their views. It also develops model bills and resolutions on economic issues. These materials can be helpful resources for state legislators who have an interest in free markets, limited government and constitutional division of powers between the federal and state governments. ALEC serves solely as a resource for its members; it does not lobby state legislatures.
ALEC’s task forces cover a variety of economic issues of importance to the American people, including job creation and growth, state tax issues and budget solvency, education and healthcare reforms, corrections and reentry programs, civil justice reforms, and sound energy and environmental solutions.
Q: What is ALEC Model Legislation?
A: ALEC model bills serve as public policy resources. Many organizations that focus on state-level issues also offer model state legislation or codes. These organizations include the American Bar Association, National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and advocacy organizations, such as the National Consumer Law Center. Model bills are ideas that can be taken, modified or rejected, depending on the needs of a particular legislation. State legislators often find model bills valuable for learning from each others’ experiences and expertise, while tailoring the bills they introduce to meet the interests of their own state’s constituents. Any model bill, regardless of where it is from, rises or falls in a state based on whether it provides the solutions that makes sense in that particular state.
Unlike in many private sector groups that offer model legislation, elected state legislators fully control ALEC’s model legislation process. Ideas for model legislation are presented in a task force, which any member can join. The task forces often have vigorous discussions on whether to adopt a model bill, as well as the language for that model bill. When a task force believes a model bill is ready, ALEC’s Board of State Legislators must review and approve the bill for it to be posted for other ALEC members.
Each state legislator and their constituents then decide which solutions are best for them and their states. As ALEC Treasurer Rep. Linda Upmeyer (IA) has said, model bills are like “a file cabinet. If something can help my constituents, I can take what I need; and if it doesn’t help, I leave it alone.”
Q: How do members interact with ALEC?
A: ALEC provides a forum to facilitate the exchange of policy ideas from a variety of perspectives. ALEC model policy and resolutions are developed by ALEC members and may or may not reflect the positions of any individual member, company, association, or non-profit.
Q: What role does ALEC’s corporate membership have in the organization?
A: ALEC is run by and for state legislators. What makes ALEC valuable for the public is that ALEC provides a forum for the private sector to provide practical input on how state public policy decisions can impact jobs and the local economy, which has been particularly helpful during the recent tough economic times. These private sector members include corporate and nonprofit members, along with more than 500 individuals. No ALEC member donates more than 5% of ALEC’s revenues. As in all organizations, sometimes public and private sectors disagree on an issue. In the end, ALEC’s Board of State Legislators approves all model bills and public policy decisions at ALEC.
Q: What does ALEC have to say about its detractors, including Common Cause?
A: ALEC encourages all Americans to actively participate in the public policies of this country. As legislatures and governors pursue the best solutions for their states, ALEC understands and expects that some groups may oppose solutions that emphasize free markets and limited government. ALEC respects these disagreements. It is disappointed, though, that some have chosen rhetoric over honest discussion by attacking and distorting ALEC’s nature and record to advance their own political agendas.
ALEC is proud of its work and its limited role. It provides a venue for earnest discussion on important economic issues. ALEC does not lobby in any state. Its model bills and resolutions are public policy resources for state legislators. To the extent any ALEC model bill is successful, it is because it provides legislators and their constituents with the kind of free market, limited government solutions they want.