To view the nation's most tech-savvy legislators, click the points on the map above. This data is also at the end of our article.
Technology has become a major factor in many of the proposals introduced by lawmakers during state legislative sessions. But it can be difficult to zero-in on the elected leaders who have their fingers on the pulse of and are truly engaged in the latest tech issues – until now. Government Technology has produced a list of 13 state senators and representatives who have shown a keen interest in and willingness to tackle technology policy and legislation.
The map above spotlights those particular lawmakers and gives basic details on the legislation they've introduced, sponsored or co-sponsored; the technology-related committees they sit on; and any other roles they've held with regard to technology. Tech areas of note for many of these legislators included telecommunications and broadband development.
This exercise is far from complete, however. The map is a living document to be adjusted as legislators leave office or as new names warrant inclusion. So take a look and let us know in the comments below who we missed and why you feel a particular state lawmaker should be added.
The legislators included on this map were based on recommendations from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), the National Association of Counties (NACo) the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and other experts. Those recommendations were researched and vetted by Government Technology Senior Writer Brian Heaton and Managing Editor Noelle Knell.
Meet Your Tech-Savvy Legislators
Washington Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle
An entrepreneur in the wireless, software and clean energy industries, Carlyle is involved in 911 technology companies, and has supported a $58 million investment in K-12 supplies, books and technology.
Nebraska Sen. Dan Watermeier, Lincoln
Watermeier serves as a non-voting member of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission, which is made up of business leaders with technology backgrounds. The commission reviews large IT project proposals and makes recommendations to the Nebraska Legislature. State CIO Brenda Decker referred to Watermeier as “our advocate for IT to the Legislature.” Note: Nebraska’s state Legislature is non-partisan, therefore Watermeier is not assigned a political party affiliation.
Illinois Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago
Silverstein has sponsored and co-sponsored a number of bills that relate to technology, including ones focused on website postings and another to ban people from using Google Glass while operating a vehicle.
Illinois Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park
Harmon has a variety of technology-related bills in the current (as of April 10) Illinois legislative session. He has been working on increasing the use of telehealth in the state.
California Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima
Padilla was named one of Government Technology’s Top-25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in 2013 for his work on tech-related policy, and again in 2014 for his role in driverless car legislation. He’s also been at the forefront in legislative discussions on an earthquake early-warning system for California and health-care technology.
Oklahoma Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie
Murphey is a supporter of open government and open meetings, unsuccessfully attempting to remove the Oklahoma Legislature’s exemption to those laws in 2009. He’s also a state leader in pushing for IT modernization in Oklahoma. In addition, Murphey owns a software and social network development company. He was named one of Government Technology's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in 2014 for his dedication to technology in the public sector.
Minnesota Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing
Schmit is extremely focused on broadband expansion in rural Minnesota during this current legislative session, conducting a series of town hall meetings on the topic. He also has introduced bills related to that issue, telecommunications, cybersecurity and energy.
Delaware Rep. Darryl M. Scott, D-Dover
A member of the Delaware House of Representatives’ Telecommunications, Internet & Technology Committee, Scott has a handful of bills he’s sponsored on telecommunications in 2013-2014.
Washington Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon
Morris has a long history of being technology-focused. He’s the current chair of the Washington House Technology, Energy and Economic Development Committee; and the former chair of the Washington House Technology, Energy and Communications Committee. In addition, he has a number of bills running this session on technology and energy subjects.
Georgia Rep. Don Parsons, R-Marietta
Parsons has a variety of technology legislation pending this year, including a cell tower siting bill and other proposals on mobile and municipal broadband. He’s also chair of the Georgia House of Representatives Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee.
North Dakota Rep. Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo
Thoreson hasn’t been a sole sponsor of any technology legislation this session, but he has in previous sessions, and has co-sponsored a variety of bills this session that do deal with technology. Thoreson also has a history of being an active member of tech-related committees in previous legislative sessions. He has spent 14 years of his career in the telecommunications arena, and is the public-sector chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Communications and Technology Committee.
Hawaii Sen. David Ige, D-Pearl Harbor
Ige is an engineer by trade and has been involved in state technology issues for some time. This year he is carrying bills related to telehealth, NASA (communications ground station), energy storage and video conferencing. He co-authored the Hawaii Telecommunications and Information Industries Act that established Hawaii’s state information network and created the Hawaii Information Network Corporation. Ige also has served as the Hawaii Legislature Majority Technology Leader.
Minnesota Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-District 52B
Atkins regularly takes up technology issues, particularly when they deal with law enforcement. He has authored two technology-based bills this year, one concerning cellphone kill switches and one about obtaining search warrants for cell phone data. He has also co-authored bills on electronic lottery terminals, telecommunications authority and renewable energy.