Northern Michigan Caucus working together
so technology advances don’t leave rural residents behind
State Rep. Peter Pettalia introduced a resolution Tuesday to remind Gov. Rick Snyder and state department leaders that while electronic documents and computerization can be efficient and less expensive for conducting business, not all state residents are prepared to go paperless.
House Resolution 14 urges all Michigan executive departments to provide paper options for residents to submit government forms and documents. The resolution is co-sponsored by all of the House lawmakers in the bipartisan Northern Michigan Caucus – Reps. Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City; Scott Dianda, D-Calumet; Triston Cole, R-Mancelona; Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan; John Kivela, R-Marquette; Ray Franz, R-Onekama; Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac; Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo; Joel Johnson, R-Clare; Lee Chatfield, R-Levering; and Larry Inman, R-Williamsburg – which Pettalia chairs.
“Michigan, the federal government and even many local governments are modernizing their services with electronic-based information systems, and while that may provide better efficiency, reduced processing times and lower overhead costs, we still have residents without access to, or knowledge of, the necessary technology,” said Pettalia, R-Presque Isle. “In addition to the people who don’t have high-speed Internet service available in their area, places where it is available can come at a substantial cost, which can create more barriers between citizens and their government.”
He pointed to two of Michigan’s biggest cities, Detroit and Grand Rapids, as locations where 90 percent of households have computers but only 75 to 80 percent have high speed internet available.
Pettalia offered another example of the need for a paper option that he heard from local residents about was when the federal government completed its transition of paper-based program payments, such as Social Security and veterans benefits, to electronic deposits.
“People figured it out and got used to it, however, we need to ensure at the state level there is simple, affordable access for everyone at all times in all places,” he said.
HR 14 has been assigned to the House Government Operations Committee for consideration.