After years of resisting modernization, the Senate continues to go high-tech, with the latest additions being closed-circuit TV systems in the Finance and Judiciary committee rooms.
Each system includes large wide-screen monitors, which hang from ceilings of the committee rooms, with one screen facing the committee members, and one screen facing the public seating in each room.
The systems also include controls, and a smaller monitor, at the podiums in each committee room.
Each system, including installation and wiring, cost $12,349 and were purchased from Electronic Specialty Co. of Dunbar, according to Senate assistant clerk Lee Cassis.
He said they ultimately should save on printing costs, since committee staffs won't have to make printed copies of power-point presentations for each member.
(In addition to being able to view the presentations on the TV monitors, senators will be able to call up the reports on the iPads the Senate purchased for the members last year, he said.)
Cassis said the monitors can also be used for two-way closed-circuit broadcasts, so that experts can appear before the committees without having to travel to Charleston.
Finally, even though I should know better, I can never resist referencing the number of state holidays (14 this year, four in November alone), knowing it will get a rise out of state employees.
Why, I'm not sure. It's not a slight on the employees that they get so many paid holidays. That occurred over the years as a way for Legislatures and governors to curry favor with state employees, and to placate them in some years in lieu of pay raises.
The only reason I can think why state employees would get so worked up is that they're concerned there could be some effort to scale back the holidays to a more reasonable number. However, in all these years, the Legislature has only taken back one holiday -- Lincoln's Birthday in 2005 -- and that wasn't even a true take-back, since they swapped it for a new official holiday on the day after Thanksgiving.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.