Depending on who you ask, ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, essentially a cooperative of state legislators from around the nation who share policy ideas that lean center right, is either a helpful forum for the exchange of policy ideas or one of the biggest threats to freedom we face, next to gender specific restrooms of course.  ALEC focuses primarily on economic issues, taxes and regulation, certainly not the dreaded “social issues.”

Virginia Republican legislators, particularly in the House of Delegates, have been highly attuned to the work of ALEC.  Speaker Bill Howell sits on its Board of Directors, and several members regularly attend ALEC conferences and tout ALEC legislative ideas.

So, last week, when ALEC released its latest edition of “Rich States/Poor States,” its analysis of the current economic status of the states and, which states have better economic futures, most of the focus was on where Virginia stands in the rankings.  Unfortunately, Virginia’s economic picture is trending poorly, currently ranked 19th, a steep descent from recent years.

More interestingly, ALEC’s “Economic Outlook Rank” for Virginia is 13th, down from 3rd just four short years ago.  While certainly not as bleak as some states, the decline doesn’t bode well for Virginia’s unstable economy.  There are many factors, with “sequestration” being near the top of the list, if you listen to legislators and the Governor.  It’s why we need a “new economy” and all. 

And the biggest threat to the “new economy”, according to McAuliffe and his side-kick LG Ralph Northam?  Why that would be you and you’re backward beliefs.  I mean, seriously?  Marriage between men and women?  Bathrooms based on biological sex?  How yesterday.  Stuff like that’s going to keep the business guys away.  Geez. 

Good thing we’re not North Carolina! 

Except, well, guess which state is number 2 in ALEC’s ranking of states with the best economic outlook?

Go Tar Heels.

This little development could put some center-right lawmakers in quite a pickle.  After all, they love ALEC.  They love to talk about ALEC’s rankings.  But many of those same legislators loath having to talk social issues, and the brouhaha in NC over bathrooms is just the latest excuse for them to duck and run. 

Except ALEC ranks NC well ahead of VA in economic outlook based on, you know, economics.  Stuff like tax rates, regulatory environment, workforce.  Little things. 

In fact, a careful look at the rankings show that the majority of states in ALEC’s top 20 states with good economic forecasts have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, laws the secular left has hysterically attacked as discriminatory.  North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Idaho, Mississippi, and Arkansas all have protections for faith.  

Apparently, ensuring freedom of religion makes good economic sense.  Almost as if the two are tied together. 

Little things.