Nick's 4 Step Approach to Legislation...
I think it is critical that my constituents know the process I use when considering legislation. There are literally thousands of issues which can arise during the course of a session, so it is important that you know not only how I might stand on a particular issue of importance to you, but the thought process I take to all issues I will encounter as your delegate. Here are the four questions I ask myself when considering whether or not the government should address a problem or issue.
Is it Constitutional?
As stated above the Constitution is the law which governs government. In a constitutional republic such as ours power resides with the people first. The people then delegate certain responsibilities to government. Only those authorities which have been properly delegated to government can be executed. Therefore if a particular issue or piece of legislation goes beyond the powers granted to us by the Constitution, I must vote against it.
Is this a legitimate function of government?
Government has a certain role to play in society, namely to protect individual liberty and private property. Not to choose winners and losers in the economy and not to live peoples lives for them. Government exists primarily to interject in situations where "involuntary human interaction" is taking place. In almost every other case, problems are best solved by free people working in concert with one another, not by politicians and bureaucrats using the coercive force of government to impose their arbitrary ideal.
What level of government is most appropriate to address this issue?
After the first two questions have been adequately addressed, the next question that must be asked is what is the appropriate level of government to address the issue. The default position for legislators should be to try and keep issues at the level of government closest to the people. Government responsiveness is often the most difficult to achieve the higher it goes. Therefore whenever possible allow local government to develop solutions rather than resorting to a one size fits all approach at higher levels.
Does the solution we offer protect individual liberty and private property, or not?
Once it has been determined that a legislators involvement is constitutionally valid, that the issue being addressed is a legitimate function of government, and that the appropriate level of government is addressing it we must now ask ourselves if the legislation presented protects individual liberty and private property. If the answer is no, then it is almost certain that the solution offered will in fact prove just as bad if not worse than the problem it seeks to address.