The Idaho delegation is led by the American Legislative Exchange Council's Idaho chairwoman, Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston. The 39th annual meeting began Monday for board members and other leaders. Regular sessions begin Wednesday and run through Friday.
Lodge, as a state chair, said she'll be in Salt Lake City today through Thursday, and expects to be joined by Reps. Steve Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, and Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls. Lodge said she pays her own expenses. The group also offers scholarships.
Two other lawmakers are attending at state expense, Reps. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, and Phil Hart, R-Hayden. Travel expenses for Barbieri and Hart have been approved by House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale. Hart was defeated in the May GOP primary.
ALEC is a privately funded conservative group that writes model legislation that lawmakers use as templates in many states, including bills on privatizing K-12 education, tougher voter registration requirements and taxes. The group's agenda and supporters were the subject of 2011 article in the liberal magazine, The Nation, titled "ALEC Exposed."
Lodge said she attends because of the programs. "They just have some great speakers," she said. This year's lineup includes pollster Charlie Cook and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.
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