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Our Opinion: Law permits print edition of ‘Blue Book’

We welcome the possibility of referencing a print edition of Missouri’s “Blue Book” once again.

A law signed by Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday permits printing of Missouri’s official state manual. The statute marks a reversal of a 2010 law prohibiting print publication of the book.

Cost was a deciding factor in both laws.

The intent of the 2010 law was to save the state an estimated $1.7 million in printing costs.

The recent law permits print publication, but does not involve a cost to the state.

Instead, the law authorized the secretary of state to contract with a nonprofit organization to print and distribute copies of the state manual.

The secretary of state will provide the contents electronically to the contracted agency, which will cover production costs by charging a fee to book buyers.

The state manual contains information about public officials, state employees, local governments, elections and other aspects of government.

The manual is printed every two years and traditionally has a theme. Secretary of State Jason Kander on Monday said the theme for the 2013-2014 edition will be “Remembering Harry,” in honor of Harry Truman, the only U.S. president from Missouri.

The theme also is the subject of a statewide photo contest, and winning submissions in a range of categories will be published in the manual. Details are available at www.sos.mo.gov/photocontest.

An online version of the state manual — which will remain available — may be suitable in many circumstances.

But for people without computers, people affected by power outages or online service disruptions, or people who simply prefer a tangible volume, a printed Blue Book is the answer.

And only book buyers, not taxpayers, will incur costs.

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