KOPEL: WHERE ARE MY GLASSES?
I’m seeing red over the type in the pink book
The pink book is available.” That is a declaration, which, in the past, was welcome news. A glossary of elected officials with phone numbers and other information, seating assignments in the House and Senate and addresses useful for contacting, all in a small size booklet form.
But most important, it was readable for middle-aged people. That is no longer true. The pink book joins House amendments of bills as no longer easy to read. This is not the fault of staff printers, who are told what to do, but by someone in legislative leadership.
I am not suggesting this was intentional discrimination against the elderly. But that is what occurs when a bill is up for third reading in the House and then up to reading of that amended bill in Senate committee.
Senate amendments of bills are shown by double underlines and don’t require any extra tool to interpret. House amendments are on “shading dark backgrounds” which, if too dark, cannot be read. I spent decades having staff go to the bill room to find a lighter black shade on a bill I could not possibly read other wise.
Look at this year’s HB 1044, page 6 as amended. Why does a legislator have to decipher against a dark background important language adopted before the bill went to the Senate. This was a bill I was following but if you ask me what changes were made on page 6, I could not do so without rewriting it on a white background.
The shading is not a help. It’s a hindrance. Why not have a single underline or a line of X’s or O’s on some of the bills that have major House amendments and let the House members indicate whether they could now read what was done before third reading.
For 2011 some legislators ordered the size of the type used in the pink book be reduced. I can only guess why. Perhaps to make more blank space available on most of the 58 printed pages.
The last two pages (59 and 60) are blank. Compare with the 2010 pink book, page 60 is blank. But the 2010 pink book pages 24 and 25 are also blank for note taking. No such pages exist in the 2011 pink book.
Even wearing reading glasses the 2011 type is unreadable. What it encourages is misspelling names, phone numbers and addresses. Smaller print in 2011 but the same number of pages as in 2010.
In 2010 there were 12 pages devoted to listing senators, various addresses and occupations. In 2011 there are 14 pages for the same information. And more blank space.
The same information is provided in the two pink books. The only difference is the type size. Anyone depending on the 2011 pink book had better have a good magnifying glass always available.
Or look at other booklets available. One that I am now aware of is that by Circuit Media, LLC, which this year is the 2011 Gold Book “brought to you by AARP.” This booklet provides biographical information as well as photos of all 100 legislators.
I will keep my 2011 pink book and hope to hear from disgruntled legislators. And thanks to AARP for giving me print that is readable and useful.