Group Meeting In Nashville Helps Form Legislation Across Country

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - State lawmakers don't just dream up the couple of thousand bills they file each year. Some of them come from groups made up of lawmakers from across the country. One of those groups is meeting this week in Nashville.

Just a few blocks from the state capitol, one of the city's many conventions is one that can directly affect Tennesseans.  While much of the public doesn't know the name - ALEC, short for American Legislative Exchange Council - can have an influence on what bills Tennessee lawmakers sponsor. They get ideas going to its gatherings.

“I learn things from the way other states have done it,” says State Senator Bill Ketron, ALEC State Co-Chair. “Why reinvent the wheel when someone else has perfected it.”

Ketron will be at the convention where task forces look at things like civil justice reform and economic development. But for a lot of conservative Tennessee lawmakers like Ketron, a balanced federal budget amendment signed by the states is a priority.

“Once we have ratified 38-states, we can call for a constitutional convention to force Congress into balancing the budget,” says St. Sen. Ketron.

House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart sees ALEC in a much different light.

“ALEC in many cases interferes with the proper functioning of government, basically collecting all this money from gigantic corporations,” says Rep. Stewart.

Stewart cites a failed virtual school bill, costing taxpayers millions, as an example.

“Often, we see ALEC as supporting efforts to swipe taxpayer money for all kinds of ridiculous schemes, like the TN Virtual school,” says Rep. Stewart.

Ketron says he doesn't agree with everything ALEC promotes, but defends it as a place where lawmakers get ideas.

Like most ALEC gatherings, some protestors are expected during the group's three-day event in Nashville.  


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