February 3, 2013

Bill Nemitz: Connecting to State House with bunny slippers on

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Rep. Alan Casavant, D-Biddeford

Her conclusion: Virtual lawmaking can work in some ways, while in others it can't.

"More often than not, legislators are open to testimony from citizens via electronic methods," Erickson said in an interview Friday.

But the more virtual lawmaking veers toward "remote voting" by lawmakers away from the state capital, she said, the less buzz it generates.

"Almost always, the main concern is the integrity of the process," she said. "The citizens would want some certainty that the legislative process is being upheld, that a lobbyist is not sitting next to that person" while he or she casts a vote.

No argument there from Casavant, who still maintains that his six years (and counting) in the Maine Legislature have often been -- how do we put this tactfully -- a complete waste of time.

"It don't know where (L.R. 1729) goes, but it has intriguing potential," he said. All he's asking is to view the entire legislative experience through the prism of these rapidly changing times.

"Pull in the technology people," Casavant urged. "The people who know the business and what it means for government."

People like Fletcher Kittredge, CEO of the Biddeford-based Internet provider GWI and a major backer of Maine's recently completed Three Ring Binder project. The 1,100-mile network of high-speed, fiber-optic cable puts Maine at the cutting edge of Internet communications from Kittery all the way to Fort Kent.

"Obviously, you'd have to do it with great care and forethought," said Kittredge, who sees already-wired school libraries as potential legislative satellite locations. "But there isn't any reason this couldn't work -- certainly no technical reason."

Meaning 10 years from now, the highway to Augusta will be the road less traveled?

"I really don't think it will take that long," Kittredge predicted. "Within 10 years we'll have driverless cars. This will look pretty tame compared to that."

Driverless cars?

Next up: "Resolve, That All Mainers Stay the Hell Off the Road."

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:



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