Editor’s note: This commentary is by Rep. Bob Helm, represents the Rutland-3 district in the Vermont House of Representatives. He lives in Castleton.
The Green Mountain State is home to some of America’s 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 ALEC.
The American Legislative Exchange Council 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 others’ mistakes so they aren’t 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 state’s economy.
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.
Take, for example, ALEC’s annual Rich States, Poor States report that ranks states’ 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 ALEC’s resources are online, so even if you’re 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 Vermont’s 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.