The Texas Legislature is preparing to convene once again in Austin, and this session there are going to be some hi-tech improvements. Texas House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel said the electronic devices are now popping up in the state legislature.
"We began to realize that Steve Jobs – he was on to something," said Griesel, adding that starting Jan. 8, when the next legislative session begins, there will be even more iPads in the Capitol. The State of Texas will be supplying them to each lawmaker’s office because the devices make the house more efficient and will save money and paper.
"We are an official state agency so we are always going to carry some paper," said Griesel. "We moved two sessions ago – we printed about 30 million pieces of paper - and in this last session using the electronic distribution documents we cut that number in half."
The legislature’s website is also getting an upgrade to be readable on mobile devices. Over the years, the Texas Legislature has received high marks for its online components, which allow the public to track legislation and watch live committee meetings and floor votes.
“There’s also some new features this year – we’ve compiled every Texas statute – basically the entire law library of the state and it’s online and you can reach it through www.txlegis.com,” said Griesel.
Tablets cost half the price of new laptops and don’t require expensive software licenses. Griesel said he knows it might look extravagant for the penny-pinching legislature to be getting spiffy new iPads, but it is going to save money.