FRANKFORT — During speeches in the state Capitol, while trying to convey how important an issue is to the people of Kentucky, state legislators often tout the number of "green slips" they have received.
"Green slips" contained phone messages for lawmakers that citizens left on a dedicated 800 number. Legislative staffers would listen to the messages, type them into a computer and print them on green slips of paper that were taken by carriers to the designated lawmakers.
Tens of thousands of green slips, each small enough to fit in a coat pocket, were produced during every legislative session. So when lawmakers amassed a large number of green slips about one of their bills, it could mean more attention for the legislation.
But the number of green slips in Frankfort will be dwindling, thanks to the planned modernization of the system.
Marcia Seiler, interim director of the Legislative Research Commission, hopes that when the 2015 Kentucky General Assembly starts Jan. 6, the new system will be in place to relay messages electronically from constituents to lawmakers.
She said staffers would put messages from the phone line into lawmakers' computer accounts, sometimes grouping them by subjects. Lawmakers will be able to retrieve their messages instantly and handle them like email.
No more "green slips, unless legislators tell their staffers to print the messages.
Seiler said she asked staff to look into modernizing the message system when she became interim director last year.
The new system, she said, will be more efficient at no extra cost. "It's all been done in-house and will not mean any reduction in staff, just less paper," she said.
Seiler noted that constituents still may contact their legislators by mail, direct phone calls and emails.
As under the old system, messages from the phone line will remain private and will not be available to the public. They will include whatever information, including name and contact information, the caller wants the lawmaker to know. Lawmakers will be able to delete any of the messages in their accounts.
Though green slips might become rare in the Capitol, they will not be forgotten. The new computerized message system has been dubbed The Green Slip Program.
"I expect lawmakers may want to keep saying how many green slips they got for their bills," said Seiler.