- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday touted his efforts to cut regulations and boost the state’s business climate at a meeting of pro-business lawmakers from across the nation.

Ducey cited tax cuts, a new law allowing ride-hailing companies like Uber to operate and efforts to lure big businesses like Apple as accomplishments during his first year in office. He addressed hundreds of lawmakers and business leaders attending the American Legislative Exchange Council’s policy summit in northeast Phoenix.

“It has been good for the state of Arizona,” Ducey said. “It has demonstrated to the rest of the country that we are open for business.”

The group known as ALEC brings together lawmakers and big business backers who support limited government to craft model legislation and public policies.

Critics say big business funds ALEC as a way to get lawmakers to enact helpful legislation. ALEC says it provides a forum for state legislators and business leaders to discuss practical, state-level public policy issues.

Julie Erfle, executive director of nonprofit ProgressNow Arizona that advocates for liberal policies, said the issue for opponents of ALEC is that businesses get to take charitable write-offs for sponsoring lawmakers to attend its events.

“These are big corporations that come together as a C-3 nonprofit that say they don’t do lobbying, and then literally wine and dine (legislators) and hand them model legislation,” Erfle said. She noted that the group provides “scholarships” for lawmakers to attend the event.

Ducey said he believes the group helps lawmakers from across the country share how were able to solve problems.

“I’m a believer in a more limited government, free-market economics and policies of personal responsibility, and organizations that propose legislation that supports that I think are positive,” the Republican governor said. “And by and large what’s being presented here are things that are good ideas.”

He also said he believe ALEC has backed important legislation that promotes competition and prosperity.

“I think if you look at the states across the country that are thriving, that have their economies growing, often times they’re represented at ALEC. So I’m seeing a lot of good policies there,” Ducey said in an interview. “There’s always something to criticize, or something that someone’s not going to agree with. But by and large if you’re putting forward policies that make your state more competitive you’re doing your job.”

The three-day conference includes policy workshops and speeches from Republican politicians including Ducey, former Sen. Tom Coburn and a Friday speech by Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson.

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