Va. Assembly uses Notes to amend budget bills

Va. Assembly uses Notes to amend budget bills

With Lotus Notes and Domino 5.0, legislative staff can construct stylized changes, e-mail lawmakers

BY DONNA YOUNG | GCN STAFF

In a drive to improve efficiency, the Virginia General Assembly is using Lotus Notes and Domino 5.0 from Lotus Development Corp. to manage budget bill information.

William E. Wilson, Legislative Automated Systems director, said legislative staff analysts use the application to document changes in bills.


Lotus Notes software has allowed the Virginia General Assembly to shut its word processing shop, says William E. Wilson, the assembly's systems director.
'The presentation of bills requires a stylized language that explicitly shows changes as bills move through the committee process,' Wilson said. 'With Notes, analysts are able to construct stylized changes much easier.'

Wilson said the Notes budget application takes budget text from an IBM DB2 database and automatically calculates financial information to show the amended version. In addition, the old information remains in the text with a line drawn through it so legislators can compare original drafts to the amended versions.

'Legislators can make sure the language that is used in the updated bill is the language they intended,' he said.

The last word

Wilson said converting to Notes has allowed the General Assembly to close its word processing center.

'Staff attorneys are now able to draft the bills themselves,' he said. 'There is no longer the need for several copies to be printed out and distributed.'

The application has also made posting budget bill data easier on the state budget Web site, at leg2.state.va.us/MoneyWeb.NSF/sb2000.

Internet users as well as legislators can track the progress of bills on the site. In addition, the site gives scheduling information about bills so interested parties can know when a bill will be discussed in a committee.

The application resides on a 500-MHz Pentium III Dell PowerEdge 4200 RAID 5 with 512M of RAM.

Assembly clerks also use Notes to e-mail lawmakers when a bill is scheduled to go before a committee.

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