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Proposition 2: NY Ok's iPads For Lawmakers

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco displays his Kindle vs. a stack of paperwork at the State Capitol in Albany.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco displays his Kindle vs. a stack of paperwork at the State Capitol in Albany.

Tuesday's election was a turning point for Republicans. They took sole control of both the U.S. Senate and the New York state Senate, as GOP candidates picked up enough wins become majority forces.

From former Assemblyman George Amedore wrestling the 46th district state Senate seat away from Cecilia Tkaczyk to Elise Stefanik trouncing two opponents in the quest to secure retiring Congressman Bill Owens' seat in the North Country to the re-election of 112th district Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, New York's Republicans mirrored their national colleagues in taking a firmer hold of the reins of government. Concern over national issues like immigration, the Affordable Care Act and Ebola — and the usual dissatisfaction that comes in year six of a president’s term — seemed to have trickled down, impacting state and local races.

102nd district Assemblyman Pete Lopez sees Tuesday night's resounding victories as evidence Republicans are also "in connection" with their communities and basic issues affecting everyone:   "Our philosophy is really nuts and bolts. We hear from people 'Do I have a job? Can I keep a job? Do I have a roof over my head? Can I keep my house? Can I put gas in my gas tank?’ That's where we live. And really focused on the practical considerations that allow our families to be sustainable."

It was also a night of vindication for one local Republican’s ballot proposal.  112th district Assemblyman Jim Tedisco , a longtime proponent of government going paperless, first introduced legislation in 2011 that would require that all bills, legislative digests and reports be posted online instead of published as printed documents. His legislative effort came to fruition when New York voters last night approved Proposition 2. The measure passed statewide 1,790,497 to 522,411, with 85 percent of election districts reporting.     "We're gonna get rid of all that wasted paper and ink in the landfills and we're gonna save our pristine forest land. It shows that Republicans do care about the environment and do care about the taxpayers."

Tedisco claims going paperless will save the state millions:  "When I talked to Denny Farrell, who chaired the Ways and Means and I debated him on the floor, I said how much for the ink, the paper, the delivery of it, it was 13 million dollars for that. But he said also the landfill costs were about 40 million dollars."

Tedisco says annual savings will more than offset the one-time cost of providing each elected official with an iPad.  "All you have to do is press a button to bring up a bill now."

Dave Lucas:  "So they might actually read some of these bills?"

Jim Tedisco:  "Well, you press a button, get the summaries, you can get the memos in support and opposition, you can get the bill itself, pieces of the bill. We'll actually be able to pick up the iPad and bring it over to another legislator's desk and question them on the part of that piece of legislation that we're looking at."

Tedisco emphasizes that outfitting lawmakers with iPads will give them the ability to be able to access any bill, anytime from anywhere.

Republicans also gained an outright majority in the state Senate, throwing into question the future of the Independent Democratic Conference-Republican coalition, but did not win any statewide offices.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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