Our View: Legislative restraint

Posted: March 9, 2013

Del. Beverly Sherwood, who has represented the upper reaches of the Northern Valley in the General Assembly these two decades, has come under fire of late, largely for what it is viewed as unresponsiveness to constituents.

Though this newspaper has, on more than a few occasions, found the veteran Republican lawmaker hard to track down for desired commentary on the Assembly’s oft-byzantine doings, we’ll not join this negatory chorus. Nor will we necessarily rise to her defense, except to say that, as member of the House Appropriations Committee and a frequent budget conferee, Mrs. Sherwood obviously enjoys the trust and confidence of fellow legislators, especially in the Republican hierarchy. In other words, she must be doing something right.

We’ll also offer this observation, in response to those who may lament the sparse number of bills introduced by Mrs. Sherwood this session: A lawmaker’s worth should never be measured solely by such legislative activity, or by a single vote on a particular transportation package. Proper stewardship of state resources is just as important — and, from a conservative point of view, perhaps even more so.

For the record, of the 2,897 pieces of legislation offered by the Assembly’s 140 members this year, only four were sponsored by Mrs. Sherwood. There is something to be said for legislative restraint, regardless of the wellspring from which it arises. Not passing laws — the Assembly still dispatched 812 bills to the governor’s desk for his signature — can be every bit as beneficial to a commonwealth’s well-being, and perhaps even more so, than a raft of new measures that serve no purpose save that of unduly cluttering state code.

Much like any lawmaker obliged to represent a diverse constituency, Beverly Sherwood has strengths and weaknesses, perceived as well as actual. Restraint and stewardship fall in the former category, as they should for any legislator.