Paperless Senate: A Good Bipartisan Idea!

Let no one tell you bipartisanship is always bad. The Trentonian has a good article on Steve Sweeney and Tom Kean Jr’s proposal to go to a paperless Senate.

Kean and Sweeney hope to make the “commonsense” changeover by year’s end, citing the immediate cost savings and environmental benefits of ending the numerous stacks of printed bills and amendments. As an example, they note that Hawaii’s 25-member Senate has reported savings of more than $1.2 million and enough paper to save 800 trees since it went paperless in 2008.

The idea is that a wireless network and laptops could replace the requirements that everything be endlessly printed out and copied. You can see the resolution (SR48) online. No, don’t print it! There is also a similar resolution (AR72) for the Assembly but it isn’t as far along.

The Hawaii Senate notes that their initiative also involved increasing interaction with the public, which I don’t see in the Sweeney/Kean resolution:  

For our Senators, this initiative transformed chamber floor sessions so that by the end of our 2008 session, over 90 percent of our members were solely using their Senate issued laptops to access our interactive Order of the Day (OD) in their caucus discussions and on the chamber floor. For the public, participation in the legislative process became more accessible as they could submit testimony via e-mail as well as view all measures, committee reports, and testimony submitted on any measure via the Legislature’s website. Public hearing notices posted on our website were also interactive, containing links to the above documents.

At the end of this 2008 session, we compared paper usage statistics from the 2007 regular session and found that we had reduced our paper usage by 60 percent, having used 6,707,084 less sheets of paper, or, saving the equivalent of 725 trees. Additionally, our website statistics indicated that subscribers to RSS (really simple syndication) feeds from the Legislature’s website tripled from 714,482 hits to 2,561,907 hits between January to April 2008.

Reading is nice, but better yet Searider Productions (Waianae High School students) made a fabulous video explaining the success of the project. (Warning: Watching may make you want to take your next vacation there):

So tell me, in your office, is there more or less paper than a decade or two ago?

Comments (2)

  1. Jason Springer

    that is long overdue. The video is very well done.  I wonder if visitors to the statehouse will be able to use the wifi as well, or if it will be a closed network?


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