In addition to spending tens of thousands of dollars to pay for legislators’ out-of-state travel, we taxpayers are also footing the bill for all legislators to belong to a handful legislative organizations. A Pierre-connected source provides these figures on dues paid for the Legislature in the current fiscal year:
- National Conference of State Legislatures (which send staff to teach our legislators about sexual harassment on January 17): $125,832
- Council of State Governments: $98,188
- Uniform Laws Commission: $34,500
- Education Commission of the States (whose website currently appears to talk exclusively about STEM): $17,700
- International Legislators Forum (a cozy conclave of prairie legislators from South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba): $10,000
One can argue that membership in these bipartisan/non-partisan organizations is a reasonable investment in research and services to help all legislators do their job better. These organizations are certainly a cut above the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate lobbying group trying to turn every state legislature into a subsidiary of Koch Brothers, Inc.
We taxpayers may not be paying for memberships to the corporate-fatcat ALEC for every legislator, but in addition to funding trips to those corporate propaganda sessions, we taxpayers have covered $100, two-year ALEC memberships for five legislators in the last two years: Rep. Larry Zikmund, Rep. Sue Peterson, Rep. Leslie Heinemann, Rep. Brian Gosch, and Sen. Kris Langer.