Assembly members James Tedisco and Nicole Malliotakis demonstrate the amount of paper being used to print bills for members of the Legislature. They support a bill to provide electronic versions of bills for lawmakers to save money and reduce waste. Photo by AP.
June 24, 2013The Legislature passed a bill (A.7868/S.4471-a) last week that would allow legislation to be delivered to lawmakers electronically, cutting down on the amount of time, paper and money used to satisfy the constitutional requirements that bills be on members desks prior to voting.
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, strongly supported the bill that would allow New York state's Legislature to go digital in order to save money and reduce environmental waste caused by printing bills on paper.
"If you visit our beautiful state Capitol, one thing that's striking is the obscene amount of paper being wasted. Walk into the Assembly and Senate Chambers and you'll see reams of bills stacked up on members desks. And outside those chambers you'll find cartloads overflowing with stacks of unread bills still wrapped in twine waiting to be hauled away to the landfill. There's no reason to waste all this paper when a digital copy of the bill could suffice," said Tedisco.
Under the legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandra Galef and Sen. Carl Marcellino, digital copies of the bills would be available to legislators right from their desks using an online system similar to the way New York residents publicly access bills.
It would change the current requirement that every legislator have a paper copy of a bill, saving taxpayers up to $53 million a year in paper printing and waste costs.
Legislators can opt out of the program and continue to receive paper bills. Because the bill changes the state Constitution, voters would need to approve the measure on a ballot referendum.
"With the hubbub over passing a constitutional amendment to allow for casino gambling in New York, there's been little discussion about another amendment that could really save tax dollars; enabling state government to go digital. Our founding fathers were wise but they never envisioned iPads, laptops, and smart phones as a means of delivering information," Tedisco said.
Tedisco is sponsoring the Legislative Online Paperwork Reduction Act (A.6080) which would reduce the number of bills, reports, digests, records and various documents printed by the New York state Legislature and establish a process to make these documents available electronically through the Senate, Assembly and state agency websites.
"We're moving the state government into the 21st century with its communications. With passage of this legislation, in November 2014, voters will have the opportunity to save tax dollars and make mother earth smile," Tedisco said.