General Assembly considers going paperless with iPads

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Indiana legislators might be trading in the reams of paper they use each session for sleeker iPads.

A committee of lawmakers is reviewing whether to recommend that the state buy the devices for the Legislature's 50 senators and 100 representatives.

State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Lafayette, said he already uses a personal iPad for legislative business and that broader use of them could make the legislative process more transparent while also making it easier for legislators to respond to constituents.

"Quite often government is slow to look at enhanced efficiency by leveraging technology," Hershman told The Times of Munster.

Despite the iPad's sticker price of $499 to $829 depending on features, the state could offset those costs by no longer providing legislators with laptop computers and by reducing printing expenses since all legislators are now provided a paper copy of every version of every bill before voting, said Hershman, who is chairman of the study committee.

"Especially near the end (of session), how many times have we waited to consider a budget because they are feverishly printing hundreds of copies?" Hershman said. "I think there's great potential here."

Only West Virginia's Legislature has gone all-electronic using iPads, though Virginia and Vermont are also studying the devices, according to Indiana's Legislative Services Agency.

Hershman said the committee was considering the iPad over other tablet computers because of Apple's market dominance.


  • Play with the toys you have:
    Ummm... So, explain to me again why they aren't using their laptops to do this?

    I get it that a tablet is smaller, etc and would probably be what I would recommend if they didn't already have laptops.

    By law, are they required to print the bills?
  • let them purchase their own
    If it is such a good idea, let them purchase their own for their own convenience. Do what the banks did, if you want to recieve your paper statement it will cost you x amount a month or recieve it free online. Use the same logic on the politicians.

    I however will agree that each legislation will still be printed out on paper. Most of these politicians cant tie their shoes let alone make notes in the margin on an ipad. seriously there will not be any money saved.
  • $75,000 is cheap
    I bet between the personnel, cost of paper, duplicating and binding, the state pays easily $3000 per piece of legislation to distribute it in hard copy. The iPads will save the state their equivalent cost over just 25 pieces of legislation, and how many pieces are addressed each year? four times that, I bet. Given a useful life of 4 years per device...the savings are worth it.
  • I'm sure they spend more on paper
    Instead of the typical Hoosier knee-jerk reaction griping about a new idea, let us just let the facts lead to the correct decision.

    As the old saying goes, this is not rocket science. Running a cost analysis is basic accounting. The Legislature can have a staff accountant determine how much money they throw out the door each year printing out reams of paper and determine if it would be more cost efficient to buy iPads.

    Also, no, if a legislator is given an iPad paid for by the state, then it does not belong to the individual legislator once he leaves office. It is simply property provided to the individual to use for official business, just like the computer your employer gives to you to do your job.

    Now, kids, let's stop whining and moaning. There are much bigger issues to worry about.
  • Hinkle already has an IPad
    This won't save a dime or increase "transparentcy".

    Just another example of out of touch politicians looking out for themselves and making poor choices using justifications so weak only a child would believe them.

    In a double dip recession, with a declining state budget and decreased social services these guys think this is a priority?

    Hinkle can buy his own IPad replacement if he can't get that kid to give it back.
  • Big Boy Toys
    They all currently have laptops and they still demand paper copies of bills distributed to everyone.

    If they truly want transparency and good government they would approve David Ford's dream of an Indiana CSPAN showing all the hearings Live with sleeping legislatures and petty politics.
  • general assembly Ipads
    If my figures are correct, this means that
    means that $75,000 is going to be spent on these IPads.
    Are the tax payers on the hook for these too.
    And...what if those politicians leave office for some reason...do they own the IPads.
    I say, spend the money on the paper.
    Somebody is making money on all these Ipads.
    They want to put them in schools and now they want the Politicians to have them too.
    What will happen with the records if
    cyber space gets screwed up...

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