Now you see me, now you don't

I'm not here.

One of the nice things about being your State Representative is the opportunity to meet and work with other legislators, not just in Massachusetts, but across the country.

This weekend, I'm in Phoenix, Arizona, for the meeting of the National Commerce and Economic Development Task Force.

Sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Task Force is a group of about 20 legislators from across the country and 20 people from the private sector, representing firms like Fidelity Investments, American Express, MacDonalds, Wassau Insurance.

At our last meeting, in Washington, D.C., we talked about and heard presentations on such diverse subjects as civil rights and quotas and set-asides, workers compensation fraud, investment of public funds into no load money market mutual funds, use of the word sex to mean gender vs. sexual orientation, and the minimum wage.

This weekend we're focusing on three other pieces of proposed legislation--an amendment to the Labor Organizations Deduction Act, a resolution in support of state's right to ensure a secure retirement for public employees, and the public employee freedom act.

We'll also receive briefings on the Year 2000 and computer compliance, employment law, social security opt-outs, and more!

Here's how it works. The Task Force, with input from all members, identifies some critical issues and proceeds to develop a policy acceptable to the American Legislative Exchange members, both public and private sectors.

After model legislation is discussed, and drafted, amended and hopefully perfected, there are two votes, one from the elected officials, and a separate vote by the men and women representing businesses.

If both groups approve the legislation, it becomes a model for all states. If either disapproves, the proposal is sent back to be revised or eliminated from consideration..

It is, simply, a great way for elected officials to share experiences with other state legislators and members of the private sector. And, to share a variety of opinions and ideas from across the country.

In addition, we develop a base of knowledge among the members, so that we are experts in various fields, able to testify at hearings, for example, or hold press briefings, workshops and special events.

And, I hasten to point out, the ALEC Task Force is bipartisan.

ALEC itself was founded almost 25 years ago as a bipartisan membership association to support limited government, individual liberty, and the fundamental Jeffersonian principles of free markets. Today, more than 3,000 legislators belong.

And ALEC has other task forces as well, groups that focus on criminal justice, education, health and human services, trade and transportation, information technology, and energy, environment, natural resources and agriculture.

So, this weekend, I'm working on economic development.

But, all work and no play? No, I also intend to visit the Arizona State Capitol and see Old Town Scottsdale as well.

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