TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Loretta Weinberg and Jeff Van Drew which would require all reports and publications produced by the State to be made available primarily on the Internet was unanimously approved by the State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today.
“Through this legislation, we can start to move away from wasteful, glossy printed publications, and create more efficiency and openness in the delivery of public reports,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “It defies logic that the State would spend taxpayer dollars to produce slick, glossy reports and publications designed to give policymakers more information, when all we’re really looking for is the information. Through this bill, we can cut down on printer expenses and move New Jersey to a more environmentally-friendly model when it comes to reports and printed publications.”
“This bill shows that government transparency and cost efficiency are not mutually exclusive ideals,” said Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May and Cumberland. “The State literally spends millions of dollars each year to create and distribute printed reports and publications that, more often than not, go unread. Rather than waste taxpayer dollars on frivolous reports, we should move to an environmentally-friendly, cost-efficient digital delivery of this information.”
The bill, S-1217, would require that reports and publications produced by State Commissions, authorities and agencies, which are intended to be submitted to the Governor, the Legislature or the public would be made available on the Internet, as opposed to providing printed copies. Individuals without access to the Internet would still be permitted to request a printed copy. The bill was amended in Committee to ensure that six paper copies of State reports and publications would be made for archival purposes at the State Library, and the report originator would be required to make the State Librarian aware that a report is available on the Internet.
“This bill represents a common-sense approach to save taxpayer money and bring State reports and publications into the 21st Century,” said Senator Van Drew, who has been working on this legislation since he served in the General Assembly. “The Internet has become an invaluable tool to provide access to information, but the State still seems stuck in the past, relying on printed reports rather than digital copies. This bill would allow us to focus more of our limited taxpayer dollars on real priorities for the people of New Jersey, not reports and publications from fact-finding commissions.”
“Ultimately, the work product of the various State commissions, authorities, agencies and task forces is public property,” said Senator Weinberg. “As such, the public has a right to review the information gathered in the most convenient, efficient and expedient format as possible. This bill takes a long-overdue first step to put taxpayer-funded reports and publications within reach of the taxpaying public.”
The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, before going to the full Senate for review.