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Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015

House seeks to conserve

Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012, at 1:18 PM

Paper is the most common form of waste today. Much of it can be recycled, but that still means energy has to be used to reprocess it.

Using less paper means saving energy and saving trees. And that's exactly what we are striving to do at the House.

In this upcoming session, House members will no longer be using paper to follow bills in committee rooms. Instead, we will be using computer tablets. On the tablets, we will be able to view every bill being discussed and follow presentations.

Just to give you an idea of how much paper we can save, there were 1,230 House bills filed in the last regular session. We also filed another 1,195 amendments. Many bills are several pages long. So you can see how quickly that adds up when we need to provide copies for members and staff.

This is not only an environmental move, it is a cost saving measure. During session, staff often stays until 8 or 9 at night making copies. So although purchasing the tablets is an investment on the front end, we believe the computers will pay for themselves in the first two years. The technology we have invested in is expected to stay current for 5 to 7 years.

House Floor proceedings went paperless several years ago, when members were provided personal laptops. This reduced waste and increased savings significantly. Moving that process to our committee rooms was the next logical step.

In Hawaii, the Senate launched a very aggressive paperless initiative which has saved over 7 million sheets of paper since 2007. At least half the states in the country have had specific projects to reduce paper use at their legislatures, and more than 40 states buy computers for lawmakers to use on chamber floors.

The Arkansas House of Representatives has made great progress in recent years in public transparency. We want everyone back at home to stay engaged in our process. So remember you can watch members in the committee rooms using this technology and follow the bills being discussed from the convenience of your desktop. Web streaming begins the first day of session, January 14 at www.arkansashouse.org .

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