Lawmakers to spend $150,000 for new laptops | NevadaAppeal.com

Lawmakers to spend $150,000 for new laptops

A legislative committee has agreed to spend upward of $150,000 to buy each member of the Senate and Assembly a new laptop computer for this coming legislative session.

The committee headed by Assemblyman Harry Mortenson, D-Las Vegas, voted to buy Gateway laptop computers, which were more than $200 apiece lower in cost than the computers offered by IBM and Sony. Because the Legislative Counsel Bureau is buying 100 of the machines, that is a total savings of $20,000.

The laptops currently in use by legislators are now 4 years old and because of budget considerations, the Information Technology Committee decided not to buy new computers two years ago. Many of them are now unable to run some of the latest software. Others are simply wearing out, according to staff.

Because of advances in technology, the price has actually dropped significantly in the past four years. The new Gateways were offered at a price of $1,525 apiece. That compares with $2,700 apiece for the IBM’s purchased four years ago.

The vote was conditioned on Gateway’s ability to guarantee by next Wednesday that their new machines will be able to support the latest wireless technology. Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, said that is critical.

“If Gateway can save us $20,000 and meet criteria, we go with Gateway,” he said. “Otherwise, we fall back to IBM.”

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One factor that entered into the decision is the legislative bureau must also buy up to 200 extra AC-power supply adapters, which are installed at desks on the Assembly and Senate floor as well as in every committee room so legislators can plug their portable computers into electric power as they move about the building during the day.

If they stuck with IBM, Hettrick said they wouldn’t have to buy the new adapters.

But staff advised that many of the old adapters are also wearing out so that might not be as much of a consideration over the next couple of years.

In addition to the 63 legislators, key staff members will be provided one of the new computers.

The committee must act fast because staff needs to load legislative programming, budgets and wireless networking software and have the computers ready for lawmakers by the first of the year.

The 2005 Legislature begins in February.

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at nevadaappeal@sbcglobal.net or 687-8750.

LEGISLATORS’ LAPTOPS

What: State’s Information Technology Committee decision to buy more than 100 new Gateway laptop computers for legislators and key staff. There are 63 legislators.

Why: Many of the laptops purchased four years ago are now unable to run some of the latest software. Others are simply wearing out, according to legislative staff.

Cost: $1,525 each, for a total of $152,500.