Assembly member pushes environmentally-friendly bill
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
They have to kill a lot of trees to make laws in Albany.
On Earth Day, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) charged that the State Legislature wastes excessive amounts of paper by having all pieces of proposed legislation printed and distributed to all members of the state senate and assembly.
The state’s constitution mandates that each and every bill be printed and then placed on the desk of each legislator. The senate and assembly have a combined total of 213 members. The State Legislature considers some 2,000 bills a year. When you consider that bills are often several pages in length, that’s a lot of paper being printed, Malliotakis said.
Too much paper is being wasted when both legislative chambers could easily email the bills to each member, said Malliotakis, who spoke out on Tuesday.
Malliotakis, who has previously proposed a bill calling for a referendum to be placed on the election ballot in November to allow the state’s voters to decide if they want to remove the paper provision from the constitution, said she is renewing her efforts.
The referendum would help create an environmentally-friendly legislature by amending the constitutional requirement that hard copies of legislation be placed on the desks of elected officials prior to a vote, according to Malliotakis. Bills would be emailed to all legislators under her plan. Many members prefer the emailed versions anyway, she said.
The measure would also save the taxpayers money, Malliotakis said.
“Going paperless is a common-sense solution to protect both the environment and taxpayers. Each year we received thousands of pages of legislation on our desk and too often those papers are simply dropped in a recycling bin in favor of electronic copies. If this amendment is passed, it would eliminate the requirement that hard copies of bills be placed on desks prior to a vote,” Malliotakis said.
“This constitutional amendment that will go before the voters in a referendum this November is a common-sense solution for protecting both the environment and taxpayers. In the digital age, there is no reason that a legislature should be required to print out thousands of pages of bills that could easily be distributed through electronic means. Perpetuating the current system is outdated, environmentally-unsustainable and an expensive process, especially when many legislators already review bills through electronic means,” she said.
The bill could potentially save taxpayers up to $13 million a year, according to Malliotakis.