BY DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette — Whatever might be said about the current legislative session that ended in Albany late Friday, the lawmakers approved one measure that could save taxpayers upward of $50 million and tons of paper each year.
Overshadowed by the failure to pass the controversial abortion protection measure — what Gov. Andrew Cuomo had listed as a priority — was the state Legislature’s approval of the second constitutional amendment to allow the government to go digital. In case you missed it, the amendment will make it legal to produce digital copies of legislation instead of soaring stacks on lawmakers’ desks in the chambers and offices.
Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, has led the fight for that major change over the past three years. We’re all aware of the staggering number of bills considered every year, if only to prove lawmakers are doing something on Capitol Hill, but few of us would guess that 17,800 were introduced in the 2011-12 session. (The 2012-13 tally is not finished). Tedisco noted that it costs $13 million per year just for the printing of the bills and some $40 million to dispose of all that paper.
In his press release issued Friday night, Tedisco stated: “Mother Earth is smiling today and so are taxpayers because the New York State Legislature is about to go digital to stop the wasteful priinting of bills that can easily be displayed on a laptop, iPad, Kindle or some other mobile device. This is a victory for taxpayers and for anyone who cares about reducing our carbon footprint.”
This story isn’t over yet. The voters have the final say in the November referendum, as required by the constitution.
IN THE PARKS: Next weekend will be a busy one in Porter and Youngstown. Alex Renee’s big Swing Band will perform at the free 7 p.m. concert Friday in Falkner Park in the village. On Saturday, the Porter-on-the-Lake “Summer Festival” is set at the lakefront park off Dietz Road.
Hundreds of visitors are expected to invade Fort Niagara State Park Saturday and Sunday for the Niagara Pioneer International Soccer Tournament. According to tourney chair Jeff Gee, the 20 soccer fields in the park will host 156 teams. Ashker’s Ice Cream Shop as well as the other restaurants in the village should be busy all weekend.
CATCH-22: A Youngstown resident complained that a village police officer stopped him early in the morning as he was walking home a little tipsy after spending a couple of hours at a local tavern. “You can’t win,” he griped, “I left the car home so I wouldn’t be charged with DWI. And then they stop me anyway — for walking!
THE JOB MARKET: Seneca President Barry Snyder notes the tribe’s three casinos — in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca — are a key component of the Western New York economy. Snyder said the will soon be employing nearly 6,000 people. many of them non-Indians.
DROP OUT RATE: Overheard at TGI Fridays, Third Street, a discussion about the discouraging graduation rates at some area high schools: “That kid next door used to take his dog to school every day. The kid dropped out, which didn’t surprise me, but I think the dog graduated.”
OFF THE PRESS: “Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation,” by John Boyko (Knopf Canada, 356 pages, hardcover, $35). It explores Canada’s engagement in the War Between the States and offers a close-up view of both the war and how the British colonies saved themselves by becoming a nation.
A little known fact about the makeup of the troops in that war: some 40,000 Canadians fought for the North or South, 29 of whom received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
QUICKIE QUIZ: Name the two side-by-side hotels that stood for many years on Second Street, near Falls Street and across from the former New York Central Railroad Depot. (Answer Thursday)Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246