Lunchtime rundown: Ink, paper, scissors and glue

May 6, 2013 by Zack Harold

The legislative process is a high-tech endeavor. Walking the halls of the Capitol during the legislative session, you’ll see iPads tucked under lawmakers’ arms, lobbyists and reporters clacking away on laptops, and smart phones galore. Every committee meeting is streamed live on the Internet, and you can get a high speed wi-fi signal almost anywhere in the Capitol.

Assistant Senate clerk Lee Cassis shows off the three-foot-long title for Senate Bill 371, Gov. Tomblin’s prison overcrowding legislation. Photo by Tom Hindman, Charleston Daily Mail.

Some parts of the process remain decidedly low-tech, however, and that’s what I wrote about in today’s Daily Mail. Before bills can be sent to the governor for final approval, the House and Senate clerks’ offices proofread every piece of passed legislation, get them signed by legislative leaders, and then literally cut and paste the bills’ titles into a giant blank book.

Bill titles describe what each piece of legislation is intended to do, along with the bills’ sponsors and the sections of state code that will be altered. (House Clerk Greg) Gray‘s office handles titles for bills that originated in the House. Senate Clerk Joe Minard‘s office cuts and pastes the bills born in the Senate.

There’s no fancy way to do this. It comes down to a steady pair of scissors and a glue stick, just like the ones second-graders use for classroom art projects. Cassis said he burned through five glue sticks this year, and started on a sixth.

Most bill titles fit neatly in the book’s pages. Others, however, require a little maneuvering.

The title for Senate Bill 371, the governor’s prison overcrowding legislation, is about three feet long while the title for Senate Bill 359, (Gov. Earl Ray) Tomblin‘s education reform bill, is nearly twice that length. The blank book is only about 14 inches long. In these instances, clerks borrow a technique from children’s pop-up books. They fold the bill titles, accordion-style, before pasting the top section onto one of the logbook’s pages.

Click here to read the full story. (And if you’re hungry for more, here’s my story about how bills are drafted in the first place.)

In other news:

  • Tomblin vetoed three more bills late last week, including one that would have created tax breaks for state Division of Natural Resources pensions.
  • The Sunday Gazette-Mail reports 125 people have been charged with texting or talking while driving, 10 months after the state legislature banned those activities.
  • Lawrence Messina of the Associated Press has this story about the long and winding road to Tomblin’s decision on expanding Medicaid.

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One Response to “Lunchtime rundown: Ink, paper, scissors and glue”

  1. [...] Lunchtime tumbledown: Ink, paper, scissors and glue Walking the halls of the Capitol during the governmental conference, you'll see iPads tucked below lawmakers' arms, lobbyists and reporters clacking away on laptops, and smart phones galore. Every committee meeting is streamed live on the Internet, and you … Read more on Daily Mail – Charleston (blog) [...]

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