ON-Lion Letter
"As Flint officials handle the water crisis sickening town residents, state and local lawmakers should take a closer look at their own water supply and infrastructure viability," begins a March post on the website of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Washington, D.C..  "Thankfully, ALEC members have focused on this issue for years and can offer solutions that can be applied back home."

"ALEC is the largest nonprofit voluntary association of state legislators focused on solving state policy issues that follow the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism," continue ALEC's Molly Drenkard and Lauren Bellamy.  "Supporters of big government policies will contend government is the solution, not the problem, to crises such as those facing Flint.  ALEC, however, approaches policy ideas with the simple belief that government can and should work with the private sector to make government services more efficient, effective and accountable to the people they serve.

"ALEC has a long track record of supporting research and model policy stressing the importance of water safety and groundwater infrastructure management," according to Drenkard and Bellamy.  "ALEC model policy consistently affirms that water purity is a public good and that federal, state and local governments should collaborate to protect affected communities.

"The ALEC model policy, The Groundwater Protection Act, which ALEC members passed and the Board approved in 1995 and reapproved in 2013, calls for a partnership between state and federal agencies -- including the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency -- to ensure the best possible assessment of water purity," they write.  "The responsibility for managing water safety then falls on the applicable state agency.

And the model "ALEC Water/Wastewater Utility Public-Private Partnership Act, adopted by ALEC in 1999 and reapproved in 2013, gives local government agencies the flexibility they need to develop, repair and maintain water and wastewater utilities," Drenkard and Bellamy remind us.  "According to research cited in the act, 'The U.S. EPA estimates that nearly $300 billion dollars in infrastructure investments will be needed to ensure safe drinking water and clean waterways in our nation's communities.'

"In 2013, Dr. Bonner Cohen, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, authored a research paper for ALEC, titled Lowering Costs in Water Infrastructure through Procurement Reform:  A Strategy for State Governments," they continue.  "Cohen asserted that corroded pipes represent an imminent threat to public health.

"Similar to ALEC, according to Drenkard and Bellamy, the American City County Exchange (ACCE) "brings together local government officials to discuss and exchange ideas based on the principles of limited government and free markets.  Two years ago, ACCE members adopted The Open and Fair Competition Resolution for Municipal [or Local] Water and Wastewater Projects as a way to provide options to local policymakers whose governments had a habit of awarding no-contest contracts to companies for wastewater projects. 

"The Flint water crisis was a failure of government on multiple levels, and it is time states and localities took a sober look at their infrastructure in light of the tragedy," they conclude.  "ALEC and ACCE resources are good starting point for lawmakers looking to prevent similar crises in their hometowns."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports ALEC.
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