Free-market policy group to convene in Indy

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An influential conservative policy-making group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, will host its 2016 annual meeting in Indianapolis.

ALEC, based in Washington, D.C., expects 2,000 people to attend the event, which will be at the Indiana Convention Center July 27-29, 2016. A private, not-for-profit organization, ALEC drafts model legislation for state legislatures.

The group boasts that it's the largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism. Some of its policies have been controversial enough to prompt corporate members to leave the organization.

Google said in September that it would not renew its ALEC membership due to the group's skepticism of climate change. Microsoft Corp. also has withdrawn from ALEC, saying affiliating with a group “which is actively fighting policies that promote renewable energy was incongruous,” Bloomberg reported last year.

ALEC announced on Feb. 13 that it had chosen Indianapolis for its convention. Spokeswoman Molly Fuhs said the meeting would bring “thousands, if not millions, of dollars in positive economic impact” to the area.

Officials with Indianapolis tourism organization Visit Indy said Monday they expected 1,000 attendees and an economic impact of $1 million.

Some of the spending on ALEC’s conference is likely to be taxpayer-funded. The Indianapolis Star reported in October that 25 Republican lawmakers from Indiana had taken trips to ALEC conferences, spending $60,464 in state funds. The lawmakers spent more money on conferences hosted by ALEC than on those hosted by any other organization.

Several Indiana lawmakers are active in the organization. Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, is one of three national chairmen. Rep. David Frizzell, R-Indianapolis, and Rep. David Wolkins, R-Warsaw, are the Indiana state chairmen.

Under attack from left-wing groups, ALEC says its meetings are open to journalists and anyone who buys a ticket, which costs around $1,000. Fuhs added that policy experts, citizen organizations and small-business owners also will attend the annual meeting.

ALEC disputes that it denies climate change as a phenomenon and says its model policy is that “renewable energy consumption and production should grow according to consumer demand.”

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