Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) today called for the Legislature to go paperless so that all bills and reports are posted online to end the wasteful printing of legislation that in many instances goes straight from the documents room directly to the recycle bin.
Each year, thousands of bills are introduced (11,700 during the 2009-10 legislative term) and every single measure gets printed multiple times. Since there’s no specific line item for legislative printing, our Ways and Means staff estimates it may cost taxpayers up to $26 million.
Tedisco seeks to eliminate automatic bill printing and instead have all legislation and reports available on a digital format where lawmakers can view it on their laptops and mobile devices, and, if necessary, print a copy from their own computer.
“Going digital will stop the waste of taxpayer dollars on needless printing, not too mention its positive impact on our environment. With the availability of 2011 technology such as laptops, smart phones and e-reader tablets, there’s no reason why the New York State Legislature should be stuck using the same process that existed 100 years ago,” said Tedisco, former Minority Leader and current Assistant Minority Whip.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed similar legislation (by a vote of 399-0) to stop the mandatory printing of congressional bills. Several state legislatures have gone paperless or are experimenting with going digital. They include California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. It’s estimated that Ohio has saved $1.5 million since going digital.
“Let’s not limit good legislative ideas but the unnecessary printing of bills. Given New York’s dire fiscal situation, every dollar saved on going paperless should go to reducing the deficit and tax relief, not filling circular files across the Capitol. It’s time to replace birch with binary,” said Tedisco.