Our Essential Policy Ideas for 2022
Throughout our nearly 50 year history, ALEC has always been at the forefront of producing and exchanging ideas and will continue to provide principled solutions that benefit all Americans.
Our entire policy team at ALEC has hit the ground running in 2022, analyzing the best free market ideas to add to the important discussions taking place across the states and at the federal level in Washington.
As you review these key policy ideas, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team. At the end of each section, you will find a link to contact information for our policy experts, as well as more information on our task forces and policy centers.
We look forward to hearing from you as we continue to build our free market collection of policy ideas from the 50 “laboratories of democracy.” Please let us know whenever ALEC can be helpful to you.
Executive Vice President of Policy and Chief Economist
Vice President of Policy
AMERICAN CITY COUNTY EXCHANGE
Zoning and Accessory Structures
As more changes evolve in business, many people may seek better opportunities to work from home. Likewise, much office space in urban areas will lie vacant unless communities recognize the evolving trends and permit more residential units to develop in commercial spaces.
Another phenomenon is the need for accessory dwelling for parents or even younger family members to cohabitate with other family as the aging process and spiraling costs impact the housing markets.
Contact our ACCE policy experts HERE.
COMMERCE, INSURANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Business and Labor Reform
With the Great Resignation still in full swing, the last thing entrepreneurs, contractors and businesses need is government red tape hindering their economic recovery. To that end, the following model policies include ideas worthy of consideration.
- Model Interstate-Mobility and Universal-Recognition Occupational Licensing Act – Open state economies and communities to talented, experienced workers by recognizing comparable, out-of-state occupational licenses and qualifications.
- Uniform Worker Classification Act – Protect workers’ right to choose which work model works for them and their unique needs.
- The Public Employee Rights and Authorization Act – Ensure public employees are informed of all their rights while making union membership decisions.
Infrastructure and Supply Chains
States are caught in an infrastructure teeter totter. On the upside, states have an opportunity to tackle big budget infrastructure projects with the federal funds flowing from DC. On the downside, states are facing a supply chain crisis that threatens to last through all of 2022. Certainly, major reforms need to be passed to address the port problems, but there are also other reforms (like those listed below) that all states can implement to make the most of the federal funds and to help ease the supply chain crisis.
- Establishing a Public-Private Partnership (P3) Office Act – Streamline the process for identifying and managing largescale projects with private sector collaboration
- Constitutional Amendment Restricting the Use of Vehicle Fees and Taxes for Highway Purposes – Safeguard highway funds from being allocated elsewhere
- Resolution on Automated Driving System Legislation and Regulation – Allow automotive innovation to proceed in the states
Government regulations could use some streamlining as well. While new rules and regulations are often necessary to adapt to the modern world, not every new rule or regulation is a good one. By incorporating an extra dose of accountability measures and using the new regulations as an opportunity to examine and expunge some old ones, states can add only what is needed and trim what is not.
- Targeted Legislative Review Act – Emphasize legislatures’ role in creating major rules and empower them with economic analysis
- Accountability in Rule Making Act – Require the governor to approve final regulations before an agency can publish a new rule.
- An Act to Establish a Cap on Government Red Tape – Reach a net zero regulatory requirement goal by cutting old regulations when new regulations are passed
- Universal Regulatory Sandbox Act – Open the playing field for innovative services and products by allowing temporary and careful lifting of specific regulations
Contact our CIED policy experts HERE.
COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY
With massive infusions of cash from ARPA and BIF, all in addition to the tens of billions already approved from other programs, states will need to establish standards and figure out how to provide broadband access to those without. Simply throwing money at the problem, which will be a temptation, will not solve it. Instead, states need to identify why the prior (or current) approach has not worked, craft new solutions, and ensure that the money is spent wisely on the unserved.
- Resolution Supporting Pro Consumer Public Policy for Voice, Video, and Data Services
- A Resolution on Network Neutrality
- Principles on Municipal/Government Owned Networks
- Resolution Encouraging the Support of Infrastructure Buildout to Pave the Pathway for Next Generation Networks
- Telecommunications Deregulation Policy Statement
If America is to remain an innovation leader, entrepreneurs must be free to develop, test, and launch new products and services. Unfortunately, the temptation over the past few sessions is to limit technology out of fear. There is fear that Bitcoin can be used to skirt law enforcement, that autonomous technology will lead to deaths, that AI will turn into Skynet or cost jobs, and so on. This dystopian view must change and be replaced, at the least, with a balanced view.
Technological innovation is something states should embrace and welcome, rather than regulate.
- Universal Regulatory Sandbox Act
- Resolution Supporting Innovative Technologies to Strengthen States and Local Communities by Enabling Statewide Use of Distributed Ledger Technology
- Driving Automation System Uniformity Act
- An Act Relating to Unmanned Aircraft Systems – Establishing Statewide Standards, Protecting Privacy, and Ensuring Public Safety
- Local Investment Made Easy (LIME) Act
Contact our CAT policy experts HERE.
From May 2020 to May 2021, governors in nearly every state signed 243 bills to change policing in the U.S. In 2021, ALEC members took an initiative to address much needed policing reforms in from variety of angles, including data and transparency efforts, police oversight and police training improvements. The recently adopted models listed below will likely see significant traction this year.
- Resolution in Support of a Criminal Justice Ombudsman Program
- Resolution in Support of Enhancing Police Officer Training, Wellness, and Support Mechanisms
- Resolution in Support of Police Data Transparency
- Statement of Principles on Policing and Community Engagement
Restorative Justice Programs
Restorative justice programs typically take place with those who are currently incarcerated (with some programs offered as an alternative to incarceration –usually for minors), aiming to achieve the mental transformations necessary for recidivism reduction, prior to release.
Contact our Criminal Justice policy experts HERE.
EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
Academic Transparency to Enhance Parental Rights
These efforts will be an expansion of our work on ALEC’s American Civics and History Act to include all K-12 curriculum.
While the teacher certification requirements vary across the states, government regulations surrounding the teacher certification process can impose undue burdens on teachers and can subsequently limit the pool of qualified professionals in the field. Alternative credentialing can break down these regulatory burdens, making it easier to hire and retain more teachers.
Expanding Educational Freedom
Concerned parents and community members are striving to ensure their local students are getting the type of education and training to meet their needs. Unfortunately, federal and state mandates can, in many cases, leave students woefully unprepared for future roles in the employment market.
In 2021, 19 states promoted educational freedom by expanding school choice programs. In 2022, the goal will be to break down existing regulatory barriers that prevent any student from participating in a program. This includes income thresholds, geographic requirements, special needs requirements, and more. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Carson v. Makin in early 2022, which could open the door for more public funding of religious schools. The court indicated in Espinoza that any generally available public-aid program must be exactly that – generally available to all students and families meeting the eligibility requirements. Religious schools cannot be denied participation solely because of their religious affiliation/nature.
Contact our Education and Workforce Development experts HERE.
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND AGRICULTURE
American Energy Independence
In the face of increased calls to diversify the country’s electricity generation and storage portfolios, America’s energy producers are growing more reliant on vital metals and minerals. Despite the growing demand and skyrocketing prices for aluminum, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth minerals, our domestic production capacity is restricted by significant regulatory burdens that hamper our country’s ability to increase supply in a timely manner. As a result, manufacturers are forced to rely on the international market, which includes major suppliers based out of countries that are either unstable or with which we are often at odds.
To secure a stable domestic supply chain for materials critical for gaining and maintaining true energy independence, lawmakers must address regulations that hamstring our mining and processing industries. Under current regulations, mines take almost a decade to come online – if they are even able to obtain the necessary permits at all.
Agricultural Best Practices
A growing trend in state level agriculture legislation is to regulate the importation of meat into states based on the practices farmers use to raise their animals. This trend is a growing concern because it raises significant questions about the role of federalism in interstate commerce. The standards imposed in some of the states that passed these laws are contrary to best practices, and in some cases actually leads to a decrease in quality of life and increase in premature mortality for the farm animals.
Forestry Management Best Practices
Wildfires are some of the most dangerous and polluting natural disasters on Earth, but they are also one of the few where early intervention can have a significant impact over the damage they cause. Active forest management can prevent wildfires before they even begin, while also yielding other benefits to the natural environment. However, political pressure often stands in the way of implementing established best practices, with man and nature paying the price.
Although western states such as California, Washington, and Oregon are disproportionally impacted by wildfires, this is an issue that spans through vast swaths of the continental United States. Implementing sound forest management practices will lessen the number, as well as the impact, of devastating wildfires.
Contact our Energy, Environment and Agriculture experts HERE.
FEDERALISM AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Article V Fiscal Restraint and Delegate Limitation
Even with potential rescissions, if Congress determines that plenary Article V applications are aggregatable, an application for a constitutional amendment to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government very well might reach the 34-state threshold within the next two years. Along with the adoption of an Article V application imposing federal fiscal restraints, the updated “No Runaway Convention Act” is a good companion model policy to assuage fears of an amendments convention that might go beyond the application’s scope.
Reaffirming the Electoral College
Emphasizing the importance of the Electoral College to federalism will be of the utmost importance in 2022.
Pushing Back against Presidential Executive Orders
In the early days of the Biden Administration, the number of Presidential Executive Orders was set to exceed those issued by FDR, and these EOs had consequences for almost every economic sector. Several states, including Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah, spontaneously responded with legislation to monitor and evaluate executive orders by the President to determine if such actions were in violation of the foundational principles of federalism enshrined and codified in the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Strengthening the US-Taiwan Economic and Strategic Partnership
Following the swift dismantling of Hong Kong’s already limited sovereignty, Taiwan is now China’s target as the PRC jettisons even the pretense of the one country two systems policy. It is essential that the US reject “strategic ambiguity” in favor of unequivocal soft and hard power support for Taiwan to prevent misunderstanding that could inadvertently lead to conflict. Completing a bilateral US-Taiwan FTA, prioritizing US-Taiwan trade in critical items and technology as a way to ensure US supply chain security and shifting Mandarin study abroad programs from China to Taiwan are excellent ways to grow the economies of both democracies and signal how seriously America takes the Taiwan Relations Act.
- Resolution Supporting the United States in Signing a Bilateral Trade Agreement with Taiwan
- Resolution to Prioritize Strengthening the US-Taiwan Partnership to Enhance Global Supply Chain Security and Resilience
Helping States Recognize and Protect against Interference by Potential Global Adversaries in State Institutions
China has devised and is accelerating a highly sophisticated subnational strategy in the United States and has identified state and local governments as a US vulnerability to exploit to defeat federal legislation aimed to counter the PRC’s influence. As speakers at the FIR Task Force at SNPS observed, “Beijing is poised to subvert the subnational U.S. system, turning the country inside-out against itself.” It is long past time for state and local governments to protect their institutions against influence by rogue global actors including but not limited to China and to press the federal government to do its part on the national level. ALEC adopted model policy based on Florida’s HB 7017 at SNPS 2021 aimed at helping states thwart influence by potential adversaries.
Contact our Federalism and International Relations experts HERE.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Association Health Plans or “Farm Bureau” Plans
Many states are looking at changing regulations that block this style of plan to give people more options for their health care coverage. Some states, like Tennessee, have been offering farm bureau plans successfully for years. They are guaranteed renewable, meaning you will not lose coverage or get hit with premium increases if your health deteriorates. Tennessee, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas and recently South Dakota and Texas allow these types of plans.
We will continue to see efforts to set or cap prices on prescription drugs, along with other efforts that may ultimately stifle innovation of new drugs and treatments. It is important to remember why we have a free market and how it results in the U.S. leading the way in innovation.
Many states have already overhauled their telehealth laws, but there are still some things to fix. Cross state licensure is still a hurdle many states haven’t yet addressed, and there are policies regarding electronic prescriptions that need to be updated. The COVID crisis proved that telehealth works and provides people with the care they need in a much more convenient way. Some states just toned to make more adjustments to allow it to work.
States should work to clean up Medicaid programs by targeting fraud, requiring documentation, regular verification and work requirements. Medicaid is a huge slice of most state budgets, and by simply cleaning up the rosters and enforcing regulations already in place, states can realize substantial savings.
- Medicaid Managed Long-Term Services and Supports Act
- Self Sufficiency in Medicaid Act
- Requiring Legislative Approval for Medicaid Expansion Act
Contact our Health and Human Services experts HERE.
An insecure border will continue to wreak havoc in our communities by increasing human trafficking, drug smuggling, and criminal elements. The impact of an insecure border, while felt strongly in southern states, reaches across the country. Border security will continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future.
Bad actors will continue to attack networks for any number of purposes. States are still not emphasizing cybersecurity practices and policies as much as they should. State networks remain vulnerable, not to mention utilities and private companies.
The energy sector’s interdependencies between physical and cyber infrastructure leaves the industry uniquely vulnerable to state-sponsored threats and sophisticated criminals. Although high-level threats are dealt with on the federal level, state and local governments must be prepared to deal with the initial first response to any emergencies and disruptions. In recent years, we have witnessed cyber-attacks take significant critical energy systems, such as major pipelines, offline. In addition to disruptions in service resulting in substantial economic losses, they also have the potential to threaten the health, lives, and livelihoods of the American people.
Due to the nature of these threats, legislators and regulators in all 50 states would benefit from increased awareness and preparedness. With new threats emerging on a near daily basis, the energy industry must have the support it needs to respond to significant disruptions in service.
Contact our Homeland Security experts HERE.
TAX AND FISCAL POLICY
Approaches to State Budget Surpluses after COVID-19
As many states find themselves with major budget surpluses after federal funds flowed during the pandemic, the ALEC State Budget Reform Toolkit is a great resource. The toolkit outlines 23 proven policy solutions for states to improve their budget process, while avoiding economically damaging tax increases. Additionally, ALEC’s Statement of Principles on ARPA Aid to State Governments outlines best uses of federal ARPA dollars.
One way to stabilize budgets over time is to embrace Tax and Expenditure Limitations (TELs). The most effective TELs, like Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), require voter approval to raise taxes or issue debt. Policy reforms like TABOR give hardworking taxpayers more protection and ensure that state budget growth is stabilized at a reasonable level. ALEC’s new microsite – FiscalRules.org – explores how a hypothetical TABOR could help control state spending and taxes.
Restoring accountability to government spending is another way to mend state budgets. Since ALEC first adopted its model Taxpayer Transparency Act in 2007, nearly every state has launched a budget transparency website, allowing citizens to more easily find out how their tax dollars are spent. All levels of government, including school districts and municipalities, would do well to follow suit. How funds are spent – from ARPA and other federal programs – is gaining even more importance as the dollars continue to roll into municipal, county and school districts. More fundamentally, government should budget for outcomes. This means identifying the core functions of state government and measuring results. In 2003, Washington state used priority-based budgeting, on a bipartisan basis, to close a $2.4 billion deficit without raising taxes.
- Statement of Principles on ARPA Aid to State Governments
- Tax and Expenditure Limitation Act
- The Open Financial Statement Act
- Taxpayer Transparency Act
Pro-Growth Tax Policy
As stated in the ALEC Principles of Taxation, “A tax system that allows citizens to keep more of what they earn spurs increased work, saving and investment.” Additionally, years of research contained in the annual report Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index reveals the economic benefits associated with states that keep tax burdens and spending at prudent levels. All taxes matter for economic growth, but taxes on capital, including business and individual income taxes, have the largest negative impact on economic outlook and growth.
Avoiding Discriminatory Taxes
In the same vein, imposing discriminatory taxes can negatively affect state economies. The ALEC Principles of Taxation are clear: “The government should not use the tax system to pick winners and losers in society, or unfairly shift the tax burden onto one class of citizens. The tax system should not… engage in discriminatory or multiple taxation, nor should it be used to bestow special favors on any particular group of taxpayers.”
Property Tax Transparency
Truth-in-Taxation is Utah’s most taxpayer-friendly property tax law. This law and the ALEC model policy, Truth in Taxation Act, aim to reduce the growth of property taxes through transparency and accountability. The measure was enacted in Utah in 1985 to provide a solution to taxpayer unrest from ever increasing assessments and property taxes. While Truth-in-Taxation does not technically limit property taxes, it makes local elected officials think twice about increasing property taxes because they know all citizens will be notified of the increase and its potential impact on their property. They also know that they will have to hold a broadly advertised public hearing and recorded vote, where citizens can communicate their concerns about a proposed tax and spending increase.
After passing in the Kansas House and Senate by overwhelming bipartisan margins, Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, signed into law the Truth-in-Taxation property tax reform in March 2021, which is based on ALEC model policy and the successes of Utah and Tennessee. Nebraska also passed their own version of Truth-in-Taxation last year.
Contact our Tax and Fiscal Policy experts HERE.
CENTER TO PROTECT FREE SPEECH
Protecting Speech on Campus
Last year, in a bipartisan vote, the Montana Legislature approved legislation based on the ALEC Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act model policy. Elements of the FORUM Act have now been implemented in 20 states.
We have seen several examples of colleges and universities, even in states with the FORUM Act implemented, forcing their students to accept a particular point of view. While the FORUM Act does a great job of protecting a student’s right to speak freely, it could be even stronger with additional provisions that protect their right to speak in support of the content or viewpoint of their choosing.
Donor Privacy continues to be an important policy area. We foresee a continued interest in states furthering their interest in protecting donor anonymity throughout 2022, proactively, rather than reacting with a defensive strategy.
Contact our Free Speech experts HERE.