The Green Mountain State is home to some of Americaís most thoughtful and hardworking people. Vermonters deserve good policy that addresses the issues closest to them, and there is no better way to find good policy solutions than by sharing ideas with others. One way to do this is through membership at The American Legislative Exchange Council.
ALEC provides a forum where legislators, business leaders and policy experts can come together to share ideas about state policy from a limited government, free market perspective. ALEC legislative members have the opportunity to meet with other state lawmakers from across the country, discover what ideas are working in other states and learn from othersí mistakes so they arenít repeated.
ALEC members also work with the business and policy communities to learn how state policies can help increase jobs and opportunities for all Americans, including those in Vermont. ALEC is a valuable educational resource, and Vermonters should know that good policy discussions are taking place that can help our stateís economy.
Take, for example, ALECís annual Rich States, Poor States report that ranks statesí economic competitiveness based on 15 tax policy variables. The states that rank highest often have low-tax policies to attract businesses and people to their state. Vermont is currently ranked last in the state economic index, and our lawmakers could learn from this report to develop a more attractive business climate and help secure the financial stability we all want. At ALEC meetings, Vermont legislators can work with their counterparts from Maine to California to find ways to make our state more competitive.
Constituents expect policymakers to be well-informed when they cast a vote. ALEC memberships provide valuable policy education and the common-sense sharing of ideas. People go on the Internet to find solutions to fix their sink or their car. Students use tutors to help them succeed in school. Teachers attend conferences and workshops to learn how to be better educators. Sharing good policy ideas is smart and resourceful, and ALEC members come together to provide each other the information and resources they need to make informed policy decisions. The best part is, all of ALECís resources are online, so even if youíre not a member, you can easily see what good ideas are taking place in the states.
Independent thinking is integral to the democratic process, and Vermontís motto is a good reminder of this fact. Freedom and unity can be achieved through thoughtful discussion and debate, and using all available people and resources to solve state policy solutions is a smart idea. Good policy is not created in a vacuum, and by using the tools ALEC has to offer, Vermont state legislators are better equipped to address the issues Vermonters care most about.
Bob Helm lives in Castleton and represents Rutland-3 district in the House of Representatives.MORE IN CommentaryJim Jeffords left us all too early when he had to retire for medical reasons in 2006. Full Story
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