Legislature May Not Be Ready to Go Paperless

When the new legislative session gets underway next month, stacks of bills may once again be piled on lawmakers’ desks, even though voters approved a constitutional amendment last month calling for the legislation to be distributed electronically.

The amendment to go paperless removed the requirement that bills be printed and placed on lawmakers desks for three days before they can be voted on. Now, legislation can now be sent electronically while still adhering to the three-day rule.

Not only will the new system save paper, it will also save money: Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, a Capital Region Republican and longtime supporter of paperless bills, estimates the state spends $13 million a year printing the documents.

But it may not be ready to go when lawakers return to Albany.

“Right now, they are working on implementing a new system by January, the opening of session … that’s the goal,” said Assemblyman John McDonald, a Capital region Democrat. “Whether the goal will be made or not is undetermined. If not beginning of the year, shortly thereafter.”

Both houses of the Legislature are trying to determine what electronic platform to purchase to make the bills available and how to retrofit all 213 desks in the Assembly and Senate.

McDonald told Capital the Assembly will most likely use some sort of computer system.

“Exactly what they’re going to do—they were a little bit less than descript,” McDonald said, referring to Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office. “I heard that it was going to be—it’s not going to be an iPad—but I heard it was going to be some kind of computer.
Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Silver, said the chamber was “working on an implementation plan to go paperless as soon as we can.”

State Senator Carl Marcellino, a Long Island Republican who sponsored the legislation in the upper chamber, said he would be “amazed” if the bills were electronically distributed by the start of the session.

“The idea is that we don’t need all this paper that we have,” Marcellino said. “Everybody with iPads and cell phones, you can look everything up.”

Marcellino said that in the Assembly, members cast their votes using switches wired to their desks. Senators, on the other hand, vote manually via motions or roll calls.

Both chambers, Marcellino said, are already wired for internet and don’t have to have to use the same electronic platform to display the bills. He said his main concern was hacking and ensuring that a proper firewall was in place to prevent that.

(Source: CAPITAL)

0 replies

Leave a Comment

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *