Senator Scott Lautenbaugh has a great idea. I know. I was surprised, too.
Senator Lautenbaugh has the great idea that senators should be allowed to use their laptops in legislative hearing rooms. That way they can look up bills, check wording, read emailed testimony, propose amendments, review comparable laws from other states… do the things we expect them to do, only faster, easier, and hopefully more accurately.
What, you say, they don’t already use laptops and other electronic devices in hearing rooms? Isn’t that a bit… caveman-like?
I hate to break it to you, but we have some really, really caveman-like old farts in the Lege. The old farts are afraid, and I mean really afraid, of technology. Therefore, since they are afraid of it, they don’t want the people who understand it and absolutely love it to use it.
Fear makes a person weird.
Senator Tom Carlson, whom Ernie Chambers fondly calls “Parson Carlson,” said in response to the idea, “I’m paranoid about these things.” “These things” being modern stuff like, you know, indoor plumbing.
Senator Greg Adams is a retired high school government teacher. He still thinks of himself as the teacher, and thinks the other senators (and lobbyists, and the public) are his high school students. He likes to give mini class lectures to them when he is on the microphone on the floor of the Lege.
On this particular day, Teacher Adams admonished the class with: “The old codger in me says,” and here he paused for educational effect, “there is sanctity in the hearing room! What kind of protection do we have to keep committee members from talking to the outside world?”
I don’t know why Teacher Adams wants to insulate the Lege from “the outside world.” It seems to me that’s exactly whom the senators should be communicating with.
Senator Leroy Louden, one of my favorite geezers, said, “I’m somewhat apprehensive about this. After all, you can’t use a laptop while setting (sic) in church on Sunday.”
I’m not sure how singing Bringing in the Sheaves is analogous with lawmaking, but then Leroy is also a senator who thinks voting is a “privilege,” not a right, so consider the source.
Senator John Harms, another old fart, admitted, “I’m old school. I really object to it.”
Several brave, forward-thinking senators stood up to the cavemen and defended Senator Lautenbaugh’s great idea. They pointed out that the longer the Lege waits to embrace technology, the further it will get behind, and the less efficient our government will become.
Senator Ken Haar said, “We need to be treated like adults and use the technology we have to do our job better.”
Senator Haar was alluding to Teacher Adams, who not only forbids state senators to use laptops in his education committee, he also forbids members of the public, sitting in the audience, to use their laptops or other electronic devices. That’s you and me, baby, the taxpayers, being told by a senator, who is our public servant, that we can’t use an iPad to read the bills being discussed in the committee.
Senator Paul Schumaker lamented, “We need to be bold, and we need to have common sense.”
Of course, the appeal to use common sense fell on deaf geezer ears.
Fear trumps common sense any day. Take the TSA for example. Please. Somebody take the TSA and give us our airports back.
Anyway, fear trumps common sense, so Senator Lautenbaugh’s great idea to use common sense and allow the use of laptops and other technology to make our Lege more efficient and modern will not go into the legislative rulebook this year. Senator Lautenbaugh withdrew his great-idea rule change motion.
Cavemen – 1. Common sense – 0.