New York Electronic Bills Amendment, Proposal 2 (2014)

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Proposal 2
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:New York Constitution
Referred by:New York Legislature
Topic:State legislatures
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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November 4
Proposal 1
Proposal 2
Proposal 3
Endorsements

The New York Electronic Bills Amendment, Proposal 2 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of New York as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would allow legislative bills to be distributed in an electronically written format rather than paper copies.[1]

The amendment was primarily sponsored in the New York Assembly by State Representative Sandy Galef (D-95) as A7868 and in the New York Senate by State Senator Carl Marcellino (R-5) as S4417A.[1][2]

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text reads as follows:[3]

Permitting Electronic Distribution of State Legislative Bills

The proposed amendment to section 14 of Article 3 of the State Constitution would allow electronic distribution of a state legislative bill to satisfy the constitutional requirement that a bill be printed and on the desks of state legislators at least three days before the Legislature votes on it. It would establish the following requirements for electronic distribution: first, legislators must be able to review the electronically-sent bill at their desks; second, legislators must be able to print the bill if they choose; and third, the bill cannot be changed electronically without leaving a record of the changes. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?[4]

Constitutional changes

See also: Article III, New York Constitution

The amendment would amend Section 14 of Article III of the New York Constitution:[1]

S 14. No bill shall be passed or become a law unless it shall have been printed and upon the desks of the members, in its final form, at least three calendar legislative days prior to its final passage, unless the governor, or the acting governor, shall have certified, under his or her hand and the seal of the state, the facts which in his or her opinion necessitate an immediate vote thereon, in which case it must nevertheless be upon the desks of the members in final form, not necessarily printed, before its final passage; nor shall any bill be passed or become a law, except by the assent of a majority of the members elected to each branch of the legislature; and upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereof shall be allowed, and the question upon its final passage shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the ayes and nays entered on the journal.

For purposes of this section, a bill shall be deemed to be printed and upon the desks of the members if: it is set forth in a legible electronic format by electronic means, and it is available for review in such format at the desks of the members. For the purposes of this section “electronic means” means any method of transmission of information between computers or other machines designed for the purpose of sending and receiving such transmissions and which: allows the recipient to reproduce the information transmitted in a tangible medium of expression; and does not permit additions, deletions or other changes to be made without leaving an adequate record thereof.[4]


Background

Section 14 of Article III of the New York Constitution states: “No bill shall be passed or become a law unless it shall have been printed and upon the desks of the members, in its final form, at least three calendar legislative days prior to its final passage…” In sum, this provision mandates that bills must be delivered in print and paper form. Utilizing a tablet or laptop to deliver a bill is therefore unconstitutional.

On average, the New York Legislature prints 19 million pages every two years, including the full text of all legislative bills. Officials estimate that the legislature spends $325,000 on paper and ink for printing bills during each legislative session.[5]

Support

The measure was sponsored in the New York Legislature by Rep. Sandy Galef (D-95) and Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-5).

Supporters

Arguments

Rep. James Tedisco (R-113) above bins filled with paper to demonstrate the large amount used in the legislature.

Rep. James Tedisco (R-112) strongly supported the measure and has, as the New York Times described, "waged his own crusade against paper in recent years."[5]

  • He complained about the excessive amount of paper, saying, "It’s on our desk, it’s underneath our desk, it’s in our desk, it’s in the hallways, it’s in the document rooms — we’re surrounded by paper."
  • He noted, “With the hubbub over passing a constitutional amendment to allow for casino gambling in New York, there's been little discussion about another amendment that could really save tax dollars; enabling state government to go digital. Our founding fathers were wise but they never envisioned iPads, laptops, and smart phones as a means of delivering information.”[6]
  • Tedisco noted that the measure both saves tax dollars and is environmentally friendly. He argued, "We're moving the state government into the 21st century with its communications. With passage of this legislation, in November 2014, voters will have the opportunity to save tax dollars and make mother earth smile."

Other arguments include the following:

  • The amendment's sponsor, Rep. Sandy Galef (D-95), said, “We need to catch up to the modern world. I just hope the public will be supportive and not think we’re doing something strange. It’s going to be a little hard to explain.”[5]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the New York Constitution

According to the New York Constitution, a majority vote is required in two successive sessions of the New York State Legislature in order to qualify an amendment for the statewide ballot.

The measure was referred to the ballot after being approved by both houses in successive terms by simple majority. S4417A was approved for a second time by the New York State Senate on June 20, 2013. A7868 was approved for a second time by the New York State Assembly on June 18, 2013.[1][2]

Senate vote

June 20, 2013 Senate vote

New York S4417A Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 63 100.00%
No00.00%

Assembly vote

June 18, 2013 Assembly vote

New York A7868 Assembly Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 140 99.29%
No10.71%

See also

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