Give rank-and-file South Dakota lawmakers credit for having more sense than the Legislature’s Executive Board.

The Executive Board decided in April that it would pay membership dues of lawmakers who want to belong to a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

Problem with that is that ALEC is viewed as being strongly pro-business and more likely to line up with one of the two main political parties in the U.S., the Republican Party. ALEC’s own website describes its beginnings as an attempt to form “a nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers” who share a common vision.

Not surprisingly, South Dakota Democrats objected to the Executive Board’s actions, saying the state shouldn’t use taxpayer funds for ALEC memberships.

Democrats are right. The state is treading dangerously close to spending money on partisan causes in this case.

As we have argued here before, the equivalent would be for the South Dakota Legislature to pay for its lawmakers’ memberships in a group that described itself as “a nonpartisan membership association for liberal state lawmakers” and had a reputation for being pro-labor, for example. That would be equally unwise.

Fortunately, South Dakota’s rank-and-file legislators, at least to this point, have shown more sense than their leadership. Not one soul thus far has requested reimbursement for ALEC memberships. Nor should they. Someone needs to model the good sense the Executive Board lacked.

Conservatives, of all people, should not sock it to the public treasury to pay for membership in their conservative organizations. That is hardly the use for the taxpayers’ dollars.

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