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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Arkansas lawmakers hear about states rights, environmental deregulation, not expanding Medicaid at ALEC conference

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM

click to enlarge SEN. JASON RAPERT (file photo): Hanging with Ted Cruz in D.C. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • SEN. JASON RAPERT (file photo): Hanging with Ted Cruz in D.C.
As winter weather starts to grind all productivity to a halt in Arkansas, a handful of state legislators are staying busy. They're rubbing elbows with the likes of Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz and attending workshops with titles like "Expanding Medicaid: Compassionate or Corrosive?" and "The Solution: A Convention Of States To Restrain the Power, Scope, and Jurisdiction of The Federal Government."

This week, Sens. Jane English, Michael Lamoureux, Jason Rapert and Jonathan Dismang and Reps. Justin Harris and David Meeks have all been in Washington at the annual American Legislative Exchange Council States & Nation Policy Summit. (A Senate spokesperson confirmed its attendees. The House said it couldn't confirm who attended until after they returned and submitted reimbursement. Harris and Meeks have been talking about it on Twitter.) 

Harris, on Twitter, also mentions that former state Rep. Dan Greenberg did a presentation on health care. 

Another topic likely to be discussed: Ways to fight clean energy initiatives. ALEC legislative analyst Daniel Eck told the Guardian it was interested in how homeowners with solar panels get rewarded for feeding surplus electricity back into the grid. 

"This is an issue we are going to be exploring," Eick said. He said Alec wanted to lower the rate electricity companies pay homeowners for direct power generation – and maybe even charge homeowners for feeding power into the grid.

"As it stands now, those direct generation customers are essentially freeriders on the system. They are not paying for the infrastructure they are using. In effect, all the other non direct generation customers are being penalised," he said.

Eick dismissed the suggestion that individuals who buy and install home-based solar panels had made such investments. "How are they going to get that electricity from their solar panel to somebody else's house?" he said. "They should be paying to distribute the surplus electricity."

This reporting from the Guardian follows an earlier story about ALEC's funding crisis. A number of corporate donors abandoned the organization in the wake of Trayvon Martin shooting and the controversy over stand-your-ground laws ALEC promoted. 

Over the first six months of this year, the network suffered a shortfall on its projected budget of $547,500 in sponsorship of its thrice-yearly national conferences, and a further shortfall of $440,792 on its general support from memberships.

By 30 June this year it had developed a hole in its income of $1.4m on expected dues of $3.9m.

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