Looks like NC House Speaker Thom Tillis will be bringing a little extra hardware home from New Orleans this week.
Tillis and 31 other House members, mostly Republicans, are in New Orleans for the annual conference of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.
The Speaker was one of eight state lawmakers around the country to win 2011 "Legislator of the Year" awards from the group. Another NC lawmaker at the conference, Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, posted the photo above on Tillis's Facebook page today.
ALEC bills itself as a non-partisan public-private "state legislative organization with the goal of promoting Thomas Jefferson’s principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism through sound policy solutions."
The group brings corporate executives together with lawmakers at sponsored events and trainings, where they're briefed on policy issues. The two groups work together on business-friendly "model legislation" that lawmakers can then file in their states.
ALEC's "Private Enterprise Board" includes executives from Koch Companies, Altria, AT&T, Pfizer, and ExxonMobil. Its "Board of Directors" is made up of lawmakers from more than a dozen states, including House Appropriations Chair Harold Brubaker, R- Randolph.
ALEC came to Raleigh on March 22, 2011, to offer NC lawmakers a "boot camp" on tort reform. The following day, a product liability reform bill was filed that appeared to be taken straight from ALEC's model legislation.
Several other bills filed in NC this year also appear to share some genetic material with ALEC legislation, including the first drafts of proposals on gun rights and medical malpractice.
The group has been in the headlines recently due to accusations by critics that it pushes anti-union, anti-consumer legislation designed to benefit its major corporate sponsors. ALEC categorically denies these accusations.