Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, has another distinction to add to an already lengthy resume.
Recently, King became the newly elected Chairman for the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Center for Innovation and Technology. In 2015, he served as the organization's National Chairman and remains a member of the Board of Directors.
“I’m getting really excited about it,” an enthusiastic King said. “It’s really wide open; we’ve already staffed it and are just starting the process of organizing it.”
King said the idea was born when he and a select group looked into areas where jobs in innovation and technology could be created that would improve the lives of others.
“What we found were barriers, I like calling them ‘prisoners of the past,’” King said, referencing Newt Gingrich’s book, Breakout.
King cited Uber as a prime example.
“You’ve got these fights going on in cities and states where [Uber] is basically forced to be a taxi cab service,” King said. “But in reality, that’s why people like Uber, because they’re not a taxi cab service.”
He said sometimes the barriers are in state law, local ordinances and labor union organizations, or simply licenses.
“So we thought we needed to be able to identify these barriers that stifle growth and innovation,” King said. “The idea actually came from Newt’s book. I sat down in his office for a couple of hours one day and visited with him about this.”
King said Gingrich's book referenced other areas, such as space and medical technology, the financial world and education...
“But most ideas were held up for one reason or another,” King said. “So our job is to educate legislators in other states of the opportunities they have for tremendous job creation and business opportunity and show them where the barriers are.”
The center will provide state lawmakers with guides, data, research and a structure to imagine and create a plan of action for how innovation could benefit their states. Whether improving processes, creating products or developing new ideas, the center provides a place for breakout inspiration and examination of policy improvements.
The Center is led by ALEC Vice President Bartlett Cleland.
“Solving real problems with relevant solutions is the key to any successful public policy agenda,” Cleland said. “Innovation is just as much about identifying the problem as it is about creating the solution. To that end, the center for innovation and technology considers current and potential state policy seeking breakout solutions.
"The Center is the resource to assist state lawmakers in positioning their state to be an innovation leader today and for the future.”