Would you like your legislation printed or in a digital version?
That’s the question voters will face in a statewide referendum next year, following the state Legislature’s second approval this week of a constitutional amendment ending the requirement to print state legislation for every legislator. The state constitution currently requires every single bill in the Assembly and state Senate, which exceeded 14,000 proposals this year, be printed for the members in the chamber, an estimated annual cost of $13 million.
The new system would allow legislators to read the bills on their computer, smartphone or tablet and print out only the ones they want.
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, D-Westchester, was the bill’s primary sponsor, but its loudest champion for more than two years has been Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville. He has been the most vocal and persistent of the bill’s co-sponsors, willing to go into a giant recycling bin of paper to make his point.
Tedisco said the state’s founders “never thought of kindles and iPads” when they required printing of legislation and predicted this 21st century amendment will save millions of taxpayer dollars and help the environment.
Any trip to the state Capitol, he said in a statement earlier this month, will reveal 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,” Tedisco said. “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.”
The finals days of the legislative session also included the passage of a proposal from Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, that streamlines the licensing application process for food processing establishments, like Price Chopper.
Price Chopper spokeswoman Mona Golub said they’re currently required to renew 80 individual food processing licenses for Price Chopper’s 80 New York stores every two years. Now they will be able to file simultaneous applications.
“This bill streamlines the re-licensing application process for businesses with multiple locations across the state, thereby making it more efficient and business-friendly,” Golub said.
State Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, also won a victory for libraries on Friday, with his bill requiring information about public libraries and libraries card applications to be distributed in school libraries making its way through the state Legislature on Friday.
Additional local bills were expected to be considered before the end of Friday’s session, but it ran past deadline.