General Assembly considers going paperless with iPads

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.

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