State of technology update

Michigan: Gov. John Engler

The governor explained his "Next Michigan" action plan during his Jan. 31 address. The plan is designed to lure start-up companies in information technology, microsystems and the life sciences to the state. It includes eliminating the business tax and creating a "Cybercourt" with a "rocket docket" that speeds up proceedings in areas such as intellectual property rights.

"In a world where we can go from idea to IPO at warp speed, we need a connected court that can keep up," he said. The Cybercourt will feature electronic filings, Web-based conferencing and virtual courtrooms to speed dispute resolution, as well as tech-savvy mediators and judges.

The plan also calls for eliminating local information highway bottlenecks and expensive access fees. He said he would begin regulatory reform to "break the grip of these broadband bandits."

In education, the governor noted that the state is investing $110 million for laptops, training and Internet access for teachers.

Illinois: Gov. George Ryan

In his Jan. 31 address, Ryan said the state will move forward with a new program involving digital identities and public-key infrastructure. Over the next 18 months, the program will enable as many as 1 million Illinois citizens and businesses to conduct secure electronic transactions with the state, he said.

Illinois also will develop a "$25 million statewide radio system to "improve communications between law enforcement and public safety services," Ryan said.

The governor said that the Center for Digital Government ranked Illinois fourth — up from 49th in 1998 — among states in e-government services. The state recently opened the Illinois Virtual High School for distance learning. And in 2000, Illinois created a five-year, $2 billion program, VentureTech, to support research and development, building and laboratory construction as well as invest in new commercial high-tech products and services.

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