A summary of events from the Monday Journal

SR 141 (hope the site doesn’t stay broken for long) came to the floor. The bill was allowing for Laptop usage on the Missouri Senate floor. SA 2 (barring the use of cell phones and web-accessible devices) was adopted by a 28-4 vote. SA 4 (confining laptop usage to official Senate business) was adopted by a 20-12 vote. (In the process, SA 1 was rejected, SA 3 was withdrawn, and SA 5 was adopted via voice vote). Eventually the bill returned to the calendar without action.

Of course, the story isn’t that simple. It appears.

Reporting from the scene noted the presence of the decorum squad in this debate. After all, what sort of anarchy would ensue if laptops were used by members on the floor?

The leader of Team Decorum for the day was Senator Gary Nodler. Eventually that resistance lead to an amendment that would have made reading Senate Journals a lot more amusing. SA 3 was the name of this amendment, and here’s what it sought to do.

“A clock shall be installed at each entrance to the chamber and the secretary of the senate shall

track the time that each senator arrives and departs the senate chamber. Such arrivals and

departures shall be printed as part of the senate journal for each day.”

Like any snarky joke-amendment, it was withdrawn. But then the limiting of laptop usage to official business came up in SA 4. That amendment passed 20-12.

For the sake of posterity, the Senators voting for the amendment included 10 (of 11) Democrats along with 10 Republicans (Champion, Dempsey, Engler, Goodman, Griesheimer, Lager, Lembke, Nodler, Schmitt, and Stouffer). 11 Republicans and Tim Green voted nay on this amendment. (Ridgeway and Mayer were absent).

Then we heard of the great injustice of Senate Amendment 4 from Senator Shields

Shields likewise seized on this, calling it “absolute nonsense” that his Internet use might be monitored in the Senate chamber and that he might be somehow punished for, as an example, exchanging instant messages with his son.

“I don’t want to figure out who’s going to be the police of whether I’m doing private or public business,” he said.

#1) Logging out of an instant messaging service isn’t that hard. I’d hope.

#2) I need to find my tiny violin to properly react to the idea that elected officials who are using the internet in the Capital (a service that someone pays for, i’d imagine) are not happy that they might be limited in their internet usage. Also, is the tiny violin appropriate for the idea of Republican politicians objecting to being monitored?

#3) In the spirit of Senate tradition, i’m sure that an Ethics committee would handle figuring out if people are misusing the internet, and they wouldn’t take harsh action in most cases.

So, because the resolution limits the usage of the Internet on the Senate Floor to official business, the bill is now in a state of limbo and not particularly likely to be brought back.

Eh, sometimes progress isn’t particularly swift. Better luck in 2010 or 2011 to the guys fighting the good fight to move the Senate forward a few years.

For your information: the State House allows for the use of Laptop computers, but based on Rule 96, it’s under less restrictive limits than the current incarnation of SR 141. With the likely infusion of House members to the Missouri Senate in 2011, and perhaps a great compromise between the opposing sides will occur then.