The Daily Gazette
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Tedisco's paperless legislation dream almost true.

Would you like your legislation printed or in a digital version?

That's the question voters will likely face in a statewide referendum in 2014, following Thursday night's second passage through the state Legislature of a constitutional amendment that would end the requirement that all state legislation be printed. The state constitution currently requires that every single bill in the Assembly and state Senate is printed for the members in the chamber, but the amendment would allow for members to instead opt for a digital version of the bill.

Despite the fact the bill's lead sponsor in the Assembly is Sandy Galef, D-Westchester, the passage is a major victory for Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville. While there are more than 20 co-sponsors of the legislation in the Assembly, he has been the most vocal and persistent on this issue and willing to go into a giant recycling bin of legislation to make his point.

Below is video of Tedisco espousing the merits of paperless-printing during the 2011 state budget debates.

“If you visit our beautiful state Capitol, one thing that’s striking is the obscene amount of paper being wasted," he said in a statement earlier this month. "Walk into the Assembly and Senate chambers and you’ll see reams of bills stacked up on members’ desks. And outside those legislative 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.

The potential monetary savings are debatable, with estimates ranging from the ridiculously high to the ridiculously low, but the environmental saving is easy to judge. This year alone, about 14,000 pieces of legislation were introduced, with about 6,000 in the state Senate and 8,000 in the Assembly.

“The Document rooms look like something out of the scene from the very end of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the Ark is wheeled into a warehouse full of crates. Bills are carted into the Document rooms but virtually no one stops by to claim them,” said Tedisco in a statement on Thursday night.

In 2011, Tedisco introduced a variation of this proposal, which was modeled after some federal legislation. At that time, he noted that 18 other states have implemented a digital plan, with Ohio, a state that produces far fewer bills than New York, saving $1.5 million since it went digital.

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