JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri senators voted Wednesday to save money by only publishing laws and state information online, not in printed books and manuals.
Supporters of doing away with printed state statute books and Missouri's Official Manual said the online versions already are widely used.
"They're already utilizing them online in a 10-to-1 ratio over the books," said Senate Majority Leader Kevin Engler, R-Farmington. "It's not necessary when we're laying off people and having to cut."
Engler estimated it costs $500,000 to print and distribute the statute books and $600,000 to produce the manual also called the "Blue Book."
Current law calls for the state to print 40,000 copies of the Blue Book every two years. The book lists government officials, election results and the salaries of all state employees. It also highlights Missouri's official symbols, photo contest winners and an essay on the state's transportation history.
The bulk are reserved for lawmakers, who get copies stamped with their name to give to constituents. Senators get 200 copies, House members 150. The remaining books are available to the public from the secretary of state's office, which has sent out 9,719 copies of the most recent book. An additional 7,000 go to schools, county officials and judges.
Secretary of state spokeswoman Laura Egerdal said lawmakers were allowed to choose this year whether they wanted Blue Books. About 23,000 books were requested, she said.
Engler said there has been little interest in the manuals among his constituents.
"I didn't get my 200 copies this year, and I've yet to have anybody ask for one," he said.
The legislation also would have the Missouri Revised Statutes published only online. Currently, Missouri's laws must be reprinted every 10 years. The state also annually prints a supplement that contains new laws.
The statutes are printed as 20 books and distributed for free to law schools, courts, lawmakers, and libraries. Lawyers and businesses can buy the statutes. The state already puts its laws online for free.
The Joint Committee on Legislative Research, which oversees the law books, said the state is developing a more complex version of the online statutes lawyers and lawmakers can access for a price.
But some lawmakers expressed concerns with how people without Internet access could get legal information.
Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit, pointed out that senators no longer would have access to the laws during floor debate because they are not allowed to have computers at their desks.
Democratic Sen. Jolie Justus, an attorney in Kansas City, said most law students and lawyers already do legal research online.
"Not having the printed edition is not going to be a great setback for the legal community," she said.
Senators added the printing changes to legislation that repeals obsolete or unnecessary state laws. The entire bill needs to be approved by the Senate and then cleared by the House.
Bill is HB1965.
On the Net:
Missouri Blue Book: http://www.sos.mo.gov/BlueBook/2009-2010...
Missouri Revised Statutes: http://www.moga.mo.gov/STATUTES/STATUTES...