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´╗┐funded ALEC trips continue despite criticism

four legislators, all Republicans, attended both ALEC events this fiscal year Rep. Jenna Haggar, Rep. Manny Steele, Sen. Daniel Lederman and Rep. Isaac Latterell. In 2011 and 2012, amid budget cuts, legislators didn't go to ALEC events.Last year, of the $28,000 spent on out of state meetings, 61 percent went to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCSL also drew the most in 2010, 43 percent of $110,000 in travel, while ALEC expenses accounted for 25 percent that year, according to state records.The National Conference of State Legislatures lobbies for its members before Congress and provides information. Its main leadership position alternates yearly between a Democrat and a Republican and the executive committee includes 21 legislative Democrats, 21 Republicans and 20 staffers."Our research, publications and programs are objective and unbiased," spokesman Mick Bullock said by email.

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PIERRE South Dakota lawmakers have bumped up their out of state travel since 2011 budget cuts, and a meeting viewed by some people as too conservative has been the top destination, according to records from the state.From July to early May, the state spent $89,000 in taxpayer money for legislative travel, 48 percent of which covered trips to the American Legislative Exchange Council's 2013 Annual Meeting and States and Nation Policy Summit.Every year the Executive Board of the Legislature, a bipartisan panel consisting of representatives and senators, adopts a policy on out of state travel reimbursement, and lawmakers recently renewed the policy to allow ALEC events.Editorial pages, state Democrats and even some Republicans have protested the use of state funds for ALEC, which they don't consider in the same, nonpartisan league as the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments and its affiliate, the Midwestern Legislative Conference.At the heart of the issue is a disagreement about whether ALEC is a partisan Converse All Star Leather Hi Top

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group.ALEC is favored heavily by conservatives, but spokesman Bill Meierling claims it's not a partisan group."Whereas (the National Conference of State Legislatures) gathers to assert the voice of the states to the federal government,ALEC members come together to discuss solutions Converse All Star Shoes Green

for state policy absent federal government involvement," he said in an email.The group, founded for conservative lawmakers, is known for bringing business interests to the table while drafting legislation for states focused on limited government.Republican Sen. Craig Tieszen of Rapid City said that while he might agree with ALEC politically, he doesn't think legislators should get reimbursed for trips because it's so politically charged, he said.Tieszen is among the top spending legislative travelers, along with Democratic Rep. Marc Feinstein of Sioux Falls, both of whom traveled to three non ALEC events and were reimbursed more than $4,000 since July."I think it makes me a better legislator," Tieszen said, adding that he tries to travel inexpensively.Many lawmakers agree that reimbursed travel is needed Converse White Slim Trainers to discuss ideas across state lines.Sen. Ryan Maher, chairman of the Executive Board, said a 40 day legislative session is not long enough for legislators to fully research policy.The Republican from Isabel, a small town on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, voted with the majority to fund ALEC travel. He has traveled to conferences the past eight years.Maher insisted the group is indeed nonpartisan. He calls the group more centrist than it's widely portrayed.At least Black Converse On Ebay

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