Getting Over Reagan »« Limited Constitutional Convention

Building the Perfect Legislator

AboveAvgJane points to a thought provoking John Micek blog post

Among them are recurring complaints about how state Rep. X is a waste of space, or how state Sen. Y doesn’t deserve his big, fat paycheck because he’s a worthless sack of protoplasm.


And that got us thinking:


What constitutes a productive and effective state legislator?

John provides a number of criteria.

Is it the number of bills they pass?


Is it how quickly they respond to citizens’ needs?


Is it a combination of both?


In any given legislative session, hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of legislation are introduced. Only a handful ever become law. Based on that, you could divide the number of bills a lawmaker sponsors by the number he or she actually gets passed. That’ll give you a batting average of effectiveness.


But is that a fair way to do it?

No, I don’t think it is… because “doing work” doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing the people’s work… (midnight payraise, golden pension parachutes, passing the “tax hike savings” on to us… bonuses, etc)

While that term (“people’s work”) is out there, who really defines the people’s work? My kind of people’s work is probably not John’s people’s work and I’d wager a lot that it’s not AboveAvgJane’s.

Smoking ban?
Property tax “relief”?
Tax hikes?
Tax cuts?
Drug wars?
Funding Abortions?
Defunding Abortions?

As a matter of fact, I’d say the more laws that a government creates, the more our freedoms are abridged.

Perhaps the correct metric is vote for or against a bill which bumps up against the commonwealth’s Constitution.

To pick a part of the Constitution at random, Section 21.

The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.

That’s the entire section and there is simply no way that right can be misconstrued in anyway to say anything it does not. It is unambiguous.

Now contrast that with gun control legislation (take your pick)… a law like that fails.

But even then, the Constitutional metric can be foggy.

I obtained a license to carry in Montgomery County about a year ago. Could I argue that requiring a license to carry in and of itself is questioning? Walking into the Sheriff’s office and walking out with one wasn’t enough. I had to take a form to my local police… then wait a week or two for them to mail it back to Norristown. Is that questioning? Without question I think it’s weeding out the lazy.

Maybe the question is of their continued re-electability… the only “fair” un-gerrymandered comparison we can make are US Senator, local municipal executives and at-large legislators. Given that legislators like John Perzel can pick their voters, that’s certainly not a fair metric.

I’d love them to be honest and forthright, even if I disagree with them certain issues.

In the end, I want a legislator politician who doesn’t get (or aspire to get) in my way… which ever way that it is.

March 29, 2007 at 10:16 pm

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