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Hawaii Senate saves money and saves trees by going paperless

February 9, 2010

From the Los Angeles Times – Looking to cut government waste, the Hawaii Senate decided to take a whack at a target that’s plentiful on the grounds of the Capitol: paper.

They wanted to slash the pointless paperwork, removing millions of sheets that ended up crowding lawmakers’ desks or thrown into waste baskets. They sought to turn off heavy-duty copy machines that stuffed the briefcases of legislative aides and lobbyists alike at taxpayer expense.

Two years since the paperless project began, the Senate recently reported its first savings estimate: more than $1.2 million, nearly 8 million pages and the equivalent of more than 800 trees.

“Doing it this way was so different and daunting at first,” Senate Clerk Carol Taniguchi said. “Now it really seems to be a way of life.”

Before the project, paper was king at the Capitol, as it is in many legislatures nationwide.

Each piece of written testimony from the public was copied countless times and distributed to legislators, who often took a quick look at the documents before tossing them into the recycling bin. Tall stacks of multicolored bills dwarfed lawmakers trying to cast votes in the waning hours of each year’s session.

Staff spent hours walking in mindless circles around tables, collating documents by hand and sorting them into folders.

“It was brutal. Sometimes it was hot and you’d be sweating,” said Kamakana Kaimuloa, a clerk for the Senate Committee on Higher Education. “It wasn’t fun.”

That was all put to an end when Senate leadership…… to read the rest of the Los Angeles Times story, please click here.

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