Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) delivers his State of the Commonwealth address this year. (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

The Feb. 26 editorial “The gift of looser ethics laws” confused boondoggles with valuable educational opportunities. Just as doctors and teachers pursue opportunities to learn and grow in their ability to help the people they serve, so do legislators. Voters expect their representatives to make expert decisions, often on issues where they may have little knowledge. Just as it would be wrong for a doctor with no training to engage in open-heart surgery, a legislator should not appropriate millions of taxpayer dollars without understanding the implications of their actions. Many problems today are the unintended consequences of “solutions” enacted by people who had good intentions but poor knowledge.

Every year, members, media and guests travel to American Legislative Exchange Council meetings to exchange innovative ideas about pressing state issues. ALEC is not the only group that holds conferences; many groups interested in a vibrant exchange of ideas — including the NAACP and the National Conference of State Legislatures — bring together policymakers and the people affected by those policies.

Americans benefit when their state legislators make well-informed decisions based on diverse perspectives, problems and challenges.

Bill Meierling, Arlington

The writer is vice president of public affairs for the American Legislative Exchange Council.