Galef Sponsors Bill that Gives State Legislators Access to Computers in the Chamber

December 29, 2003

Sandra Galef (90th A.D.) is sponsoring legislation in the Assembly that would give legislators in both the Assembly and the Senate access to computers in their respective chambers, with the goal of improving the efficiency of the Legislative process. Joseph E. Robach (56th S.D) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

The bill (A.6497/S.4128) is a proposed Amendment to Article 3, Section 14 of the Constitution, which states that a bill must be on membersí desks prior to its passage/voting. If it passes, the State of New York will be required to provide legislators with computers in their respective chambers. Members will then use the computers to access the bill being debated, instead of flipping through stacks of paper, in addition to other important information.

"The legislators of today are faced with increased legislative demands, complex issues, volumes of proposed legislation, and packed schedules," stated Galef. "If this bill is passed, I believe that the legislature will become a more efficient body better able to tackle the tough issues that faces it. Providing legislators with laptops will mean faster and easier access to information and constituents, an elimination of the "white plague" (i.e. legislative paperwork) that has taken over many of our desks, access to an automatically updated electronic calendar, and a reduction in costs for paper, printing, copying, and communication."

After careful research, it has been determined that New York State is behind most other states with respect to the use of technology in the Legislature. Currently there are thirty-eight states that provide legislators with laptops or personal computers in the chamber, a practice that has been in place as early as 1990 in some states.

It appears that the move to a more technologically advanced system has been a welcome change in most of these states with a lot of positive feedback by legislators, their staff, and their constituents. Galef is urging the Assembly and Senate to catch up to the other states and show their commitment to creating a modern legislative body and improving the efficiency of the legislative process.

A copy of the 20 page report is available by contacting Galef at 914-941-1111.