By Linda Upmeyer
At a time when our nation needs to be focused on job creation and a more effective and efficient government, I am thankful there is a place where state legislators are already hard at work. The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, brings legislators together to share and develop policies that focus on three priorities:
l Promoting legislation that creates a more transparent, accountable government.
l Supporting policies that place a priority on free enterprise and consumer choice.
l Advancing tax policies that are fair and simple and spur competitiveness.
It would seem reasonable that our government should focus on these priorities during these troubled economic times. It is certainly reasonable that we demand our government to be more accountable. It is reasonable that we work to eliminate job-killing red tape and focus more on helping small businesses grow.
It is also reasonable that we work to reduce taxes so that individuals save more of their earnings and job-creators have more to invest and grow our economy.
Those are not only reasonable priorities, they are noble ones and they are the reason I am a proud member of ALEC. Unfortunately, there are some well-funded special interests groups that disagree with the Jeffersonian principles of ALEC. These special interest groups have a very cynical perspective of the hard work of those they disagree with, and they are determined to silence ALEC’S free-market, limited-government message.
The campaign against ALEC was at first a distraction, then a disappointment and now a disgrace. ALEC operates no differently than other national organizations that bring policymakers together to share ideas. Meetings are held each year around the country with thousands of elected officials (both Republicans and Democrats) and members of the private sector. This is not unique, and hardly demonstrates a “shadowy” organization. ALEC is being targeted purely because its opponents do not agree with its goal of a smaller and smarter government.
In addition to ALEC, the Iowa Legislature is also a member of the Council of State Governments and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Each of these organizations is supported by similar contributors. The organizations all make recommendations and craft model legislation. They are resources for information and provide opportunities to learn about successes and failures in other states.
Every idea brought to the Iowa Legislature must be vetted through the rigorous committee process and a majority consensus must be reached before becoming law.
It is a shame that some would choose to vilify those working to move our country forward. Legislators should be talking to each other about policies that would help grow our economy. If they want to be effective, they also need to be talking to the businesses and individuals who are affected by those policies — people just like you and your neighbors. This is a responsible process, and one that fosters innovation.
I chose to be a member of ALEC because it supports pro-growth policies that spur local and national competitiveness. I am an ALEC member because I am interested in solutions, rather than rhetoric.
Most important, I am a member of ALEC because I want to be equipped with the best and most timely information to implement policies that will create jobs and provide economic certainty for my constituents and all Iowans.
While critics will no doubt continue their attempts to tear down efforts of the organization, the members of ALEC will remain focused on the same principles of limited government and individual liberty that our great nation was built upon. I believe we need more cooperation and teamwork in finding solutions, not less.
Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner, is the Iowa House majority leader. She is a cardiology nurse practitioner who was first elected to the Legislature in 2002. Comments: email@example.com