A Nebraska lawmaker has been named to the national board of directors for the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
State Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion has been ALEC's Nebraska state chairman since he joined the Legislature in 2011. The organization named him its state chair of the year in 2015. His national board appointment was decided earlier this month.
ALEC is known for advancing free-market, limited government and socially conservative policies at the state level. The group helps craft model bills which are then introduced in states around the country.
A tax-exempt nonprofit, ALEC has been criticized for accepting large, tax-deductible donations from businesses and then engaging in lobbying-like activity.
Smith compared the group with other national organizations for state lawmakers, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments.
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"They share ideas and information," he said.
He will join 22 other state legislators on the board. A separate ALEC advisory board includes representatives from the private sector.
Smith said he would like to help with the organization's recruiting efforts.
In Nebraska, ALEC membership has grown from a "very small handful" of senators five years ago to "roughly half" of the Legislature, he said.
"I will be working diligently to see if we can increase our numbers this year."
He said he couldn't think of any ALEC model legislation that made its way into Nebraska's lawbooks during that time. But Smith, a candidate to head the Legislature's Revenue Committee next year, has used ALEC research to promote his tax-cut proposals.
"I would be thrilled if we can come together and move good tax policy in our state that other states want to emulate," he said.
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