The state Senate, priding itself as the more deliberative body of the Legislature, is moving only grudgingly into the Computer Age.
The Assembly, in which members tend to be younger and more techno-savvy, has operated on computers for several years now. The Assembly always has been ahead of the senior house in electronics. For instance, Assembly members have long voted by flipping switches at their desks. In the Senate, the roll still is taken aloud, name by name, on some days seemingly without end.
Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer of Hayward ordered a supposedly "idiot-proof" laptop computer installed at each senator's desk two years ago. But many senators balked and demanded paper copies of bills and committee reports--just the way it had always been.
As Times staff writer Carl Ingram reported Thursday, the $750,000 system tended to freeze on busy days. Lockyer ordered a new system featuring simplified laptops with cartoon-like icons and larger keys. That system too has glitches, and an attempt will be made to fix them.
Lockyer insists the computers are better than the paper blizzard, though some grumpy veteran senators still want their paper. But tempus fugit, that problem is likely to solve itself. If the courts uphold the state term limits law, the last of the senior senators will be forced to leave office at the end of next year. Their replacements, in most cases, will be more electronically with-it people. They'll no doubt find the cartoonish Senate software too basic and demand something more sophisticated. Another $150,000, please.