The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

December 28, 2012

Video screens inform lawmakers

CHARLESTON — No one had to drag the Senate kicking and screaming into the 21st Century this time.

Time was, the Senate always lagged the House of Delegates when new technology arrived, even resisting the use of laptop computers on the desks of senators.

Not any more.

Considered the more conservative chamber, traditionally reluctant to change, the Senate is now a step ahead in the technological arena with the recent addition of huge video screens in the chamber’s only two committee rooms — finance and judiciary.

Assistant Clerk Lee Cassis says the closed circuit presentation system was designed to accommodate both the public, state agencies and senators seated around the horseshoe in the committee rooms.

Before the new wrinkle was added, lawmakers and others had to fumble through reams of paperwork in an often futile effort to keep up with the speakers.

“Last year, we rolled out the iPads in the chamber and did away with the big bill books,” Cassis said.

“Now, the members have the ability to have all those bills at the touch of a finger. This year, we’re going to incorporate iPads at the committee level and this is going to help us do that. When the agencies come to do budget presentations in finance, and come out with all these graphs and charts, we’ll have a good visual. We never had this ability. They would bring in these thick books to give to each member.”

As each point is being made, all will be able to follow along the 70-inch screens, double sided so that lawmakers and those in the audience see everything simultaneously.

“For the members, they will have that presentation on their iPad so they can freely go through it and see what’s important to them in their districts,” Cassis said.

Cassis has been with the Senate clerk’s office six years now, after working fully a decade in the office of Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred.

For each committee room, the cost to add the screens was about $12,000, and Cassis says that includes the televisions, many high-tech add-ons, and the labor costs.

Installation wasn’t simple, however, especially in the judiciary room. There, Cassis explained, crews encountered 14-inch solid slabs and, once they began to drill, discovered gaps in between the concrete and had to go all the way into Allred’s offices and peel back the carpet.

“Overall, it worked out really nice,” the assistant clerk said.

Another advantage is that a private citizen can deliver a presentation and use the screens to present corroborative data to support an issue. A presenter can use a 19-inch monitor as he talks, avoiding the need to turn around and see what’s on the big screens, but instead rivet attention on the senators.

“The idea is to keep everything centrally focused,” Cassis said. “We’re just scratching the surface with it, but for now, we’re using it for bill presentation and  such.

“Eventually, say we’re in the middle of a session, and need an expert witness, and when we don’t have much time, say for a witness in California, we have the capability of bringing them in by video, put them up on that screen and they’ll be able to see the person.”

So far, live streaming of such video presentations isn’t possible, but that isn’t being ruled out.

“We’ve always been way behind,” Cassis said of the Senate.

“When it comes to the chamber, we like to keep it as traditional as possible. For people who don’t know the process, the bulk of the process goes on in the committee rooms. We’re hoping to outfit those with as much technology as we can. That way, members can have everything at their fingertips.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • legion VIDEO: American Legion posts plan to merge

    To help deal with its decreasing membership numbers, Beckley American Legion Post 70 is planning a merger with Post 32.

    “We see the benefit for both of us and for Raleigh County,” Post 32 Adjutant Frank Cook said. “Right now Post 70 is having membership problems and with membership problems comes financial problems.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before hearings

     More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 31, 2014

  • legal Tort reform group brings message to Beckley

    How can West Virginia create more jobs and have a better business climate, at no cost to taxpayers?

    Greg Thomas, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA), says legal reform is one of the answers to that question.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander.

    Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoy

    July 31, 2014

  • Judge in W.Va. asked to delay gay marriage ruling

    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has asked a judge to postpone ruling on a federal lawsuit challenging West Virginia's same-sex marriage ban until the U.S. Supreme Court reviews a ruling in a similar case in Virginia.

    July 30, 2014

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before EPA hearings

    More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 30, 2014

  • Work continues on stand-alone Warrior Trail

    The executive director of the Hatfield and McCoy Trail Authority said Tuesday that officials are still working toward the creation of the stand-alone Warrior Trail in McDowell County.

    July 30, 2014

  • East River Mountain Tunnel repairs will continue for several weeks

    Motorists traveling Interstate 77 could see slight delays again tonight as repair work continues inside of the fire-damaged East River Mountain Tunnel.

    July 30, 2014

  • State leaders to attend coal rally in Pittsburgh

    West Virginia officials are set to join hundreds of coal miners and coal supporters at an electricity and energy jobs rally.

    July 30, 2014

  • Americans continue to be plagued by debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills. 

    July 30, 2014