Apple computers, that is.
The 104 legislators will get, along with some other new technologies, new MacBook Air laptop computers come the 2013 Legislature.
“This was planned for and funded,” House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, told her expanded GOP caucus on Wednesday.
The Legislature is turning in old laptop PCs, which weigh a lot more and have been bending the backs of the part-time lawmakers for four years.
Legislators in the 75-member House and 29-member Senate will use the new Macs at both their chamber desks and their offices – one per lawmaker.
“This is new technology” for many of the legislators, said Lockhart. “We are moving from PCs to Macs. But you will like it.”
Lockhart promised that the new iMacs individually will cost no more than their old PC laptops, “and perhaps less.”
Because the Legislature is buying in bulk, the new 13 inch MacBook Airs won’t cost the retail price of $1,199 or more the normal consumer would pay.
In addition, legislators will be getting new telephones on their chamber and office desks, as the Legislature has gone through an extensive process of selecting new technology for 2013.
The new desk phones will have caller I.D. screens, so if someone calls the legislator, he or she can look to see if they want to take the call.
In addition, for returning House members there will be a new voting system in the House to get used to.
Instead of a green button to vote “yes” and a red button to vote “no,” there will be a smart-phone size unit with a touch screen.
While units could be removed, they will be hooked to each desk in some fashion and Lockhart told representatives not to “pull them off and take them with you.”
As a bill/amendment is brought up for a vote, the touch screen will show the number of the bill or amendment with a “yes” box and a “no” box.
Lawmakers will touch which box they want to vote.
What will happen to legislators with huge, fat fingers, or legislators with long, pointed fingernails is yet to be seen.
“You will be able to change your vote, as you can now, as long as voting is open,” said House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace.
The 29 state senators, following years of tradition, will continue to vote by voice. They won’t have the new voting touch screens – but will have the new desktop telephones. Senators even got a quick training session on the new phones after they finished their confirmation hearings Wednesday.
Since senators vote by voice, there is no question of one senator trying to vote for a missing colleague.
But with 75 House members, there have in the past been issues about a representative telling a seatmate how he wished to vote on a certain measure, and then leave the floor with the understanding that the seatmate would cast a vote for him while he was temporarily gone.
Such a practice is against House and Senate rules.
That could still happen with the new House touch screen voting system, acknowledges Dee, because there is no log-in or other security codes on the new House voting screens.
But, warned Dee, “there are serious consequences” that could be applied to the offending representative who is voting for someone else. And Dee doesn’t see that as a problem.
Finally, Lockhart told her caucus: “Don’t steal these new laptops, they belong to the taxpayer.”