In a recent opinion column, Bill Minor, a regular contributor to your paper, suggests there is something wrong when legislators seek research and analysis from think tanks and that informative dialogue between the public and private sectors is inherently wrong. In his criticism of the American Legislative Exchange Council Mr. Minor is misinformed or misguided.
Democracy is a participatory process where ideas are shared, and the best ideas are advanced. Legislators are not experts on every public policy issue upon which they are asked to vote and most don’t pretend to be. Good legislators, in order to effectively represent their constituents, seek information from a variety of sources. Our state legislative process is specifically designed to provide a forum whereby citizens make their voices heard, expert advice is received and everyone can debate the issues before lawmakers reach a decision and cast a vote.
ALEC operates the same way, closely imitating the state legislative process. Resolutions are introduced and assigned to an appropriate task force based on subject and scope. Meetings are conducted where experts present facts and opinion for discussion just as they would in legislative committee hearings. Following parliamentary procedure, discussions are generally followed by a vote. All adopted ALEC model policies are published at www.alec.org to promote the open exchange of ideas across America.