You probably won’t see the following story reported anywhere else in the press, as Capitol reporters have been busy reporting on the ongoing race for Speaker of the House, but last week the members of the House of Representatives participated in a historic event.
On Monday the legislative session started, and those of us who are members of the House Calendar committee met and voted for the slate of bills to come before the House.
It was the first committee vote in the history of the House to use a real time voting technology that instantly reported to the public of the committee’s action.
In the past, those who wanted real-time reporting were forced to subscribe to an expensive legislative monitoring service. Not so anymore. Now, the votes of the committee members are posted to the Internet as they occur. A member of the public may listen to the live audio feed of a committee and immediately display a list of votes by individual committee members as soon as each vote takes place.
This new technology utilizes the evolution of mobile computing. Using their iPads, the legislators cast their votes from the same screen where they read the bills upon which they are voting. This allows for the replacement of the expensive voting machine legislators have previously used to cast votes. Each of these machines cost $1,800.
Since the old equipment costs so much money, the House could only equip three committee rooms. This created inconvenience as committees and the members of the public who wish to attend meetings could be forced to wait in line as one committee waited on another committee to finish meeting and vacate the room.
This resource challenge became apparent during the 2013 session as some of us wanted to allow standing committees to also serve as conference committees. This created a logistical problem because we feared there wasn’t enough capacity to allow all of those conference committees to meet during the last days of each session.
During the 2013 session, the House also considered requiring a record to be made of each committee vote instead of just the vote for final passage. Those who opposed this suggestion could point to the limitations of the voting machines as making it difficult if not impossible to efficiently record all votes. Using the new technology, it’s hard to see why all votes could not now become recorded votes for everyone to see.
The upgrade promises additional efficiencies. As soon as next year House members could use this technology to place votes from the floor of the House. This will allow for the replacement of even more antiquated hardware and should enable the avoidance of licensing and maintenance costs.
It seems that each and every year, the House has started each new legislative session with an important new transparency reform. And this latest reform continues the commitment of the House and its members to continually incorporate new transparencies in a methodical and responsible manner.
Please mark you calendar for the 2014 House District 31 Town Hall Meeting. The meeting will occur at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at Waterloo Road Baptist Church. Our guest is House Speaker Emeritus T.W. Shannon.
The meeting will provide attendees with the latest occurrences in the new legislative session. Topics expected to be addressed include the state budget, states’ rights initiatives, transportation issues, Common Core and education, consolidation of state government and the state’s response to ongoing federal intrusion.
I hope to see you there.
Also, those in the Guthrie Public School District should remember to vote Tuesday.
REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at email@example.com.