Even the Government Could Benefit

Ever feel like you use too much paper at work or in your home? The amount of paper you go through keeping your files all in order and organized is, surprisingly, almost negligible compared to how much our government goes through in a  single legislative day. Each and every bill and propositional movement that is introduced to the Assembly and state Senates is printed out many time over. It is alarmingly frequent the number of times that the majority of these copies go unopened, left to whatever fate awaits them in the various trash and occasional recycling bins one finds around state offices. That’s right, hundreds of thousands of sheets of paper printed out and not even looked at before they are thrown away (not everyone believes in recycling paper, after all). Before you ask, no, there are not typically hundreds of thousands of Bills introduced each day of legislation, but the vast majority of those Bills comprise several pages, sometimes even several dozen pages.

So we know about how badly they are wasting paper in our places of highest authority, but why does wasted paper even matter to us this far down the totem pole, so to speak? Because that paper is paid for by our tax dollars. The staff of the Ways and Means department claims that this level of waste may be costing us taxpayers literally millions of dollars. For papers that, just as often as not, are left unread. Now if that does not sound like you handing your money to your parents and watching them in turn flush it down the toilet,then I do not know what scenario could make that analogy work.

Fortunately, among those Bills introduced recently is one that proposes to end the placement of paper copies of Bills on each and every legislative desk. This is where a major part of the waste comes from. Not every single member needs to have a paper copy in front of them if someone else is just going to read it aloud. That is why such an absurd number of these copies go untouched before hitting the trash. This Bill calls not for the end of each legislator having a copy, but for each of these copies to be made available digitally to them. In this information age known as the year 2011 (not 1941 before digital even had the same meaning) we have smartphones, notebook pcs, and digital tablets easily and readily available. In fact, it would be a surprise if the legislators in question did not own any of the above. Hopefully Bills like these will continue to surface and encourage the movement from paper to digital for our government and the rest of our people. It will save us all a lot of time, trouble, and money.