House adopts remote testimony resolution

By JASON MERCIER  | 
Mar 21, 2019
BLOG

Today is a good day for open government and those wanting to participate in the legislative process. The House adopted on a voice vote (one faint no vote) HR 4621: Requesting information on options and recommendations for a pilot remote testimony program. This exciting news follows the lead of the Senate that made remote testimony a permanent option for its public hearings earlier this year. Here is the short floor debate today on HR 4621: 

 

Discussing the proposal prime sponsor Rep. Mead said in a previous press release

“We know this idea works because the Senate is already using remote testimony. Anything that brings more of constituents’ voices to Olympia is a good reform. This will mean more input from working moms and dads, people in rural Washington and other residents who can’t easily drive to Olympia to testify and take part. I can’t think of a reform that’s more fitting for the people’s House.”

Lead co-sponsor Rep. Rude agreed saying

“The Senate is already doing this, so there's no reason the House shouldn't be offering this option, as well. It's a simple fact that most Washingtonians cannot take the time off work or be away from their families to travel to Olympia to testify on bills. This becomes increasingly difficult for individuals who live in rural areas of our state.”

According to HR 4621 (in-part):

“WHEREAS, The House of Representatives seeks to increase public participation, understanding, and transparency of the legislative process; and

WHEREAS, The House of Representatives seeks to examine options for expanding the ways in which the public can participate in the legislative process, including the feasibility of a pilot remote testimony program . . .

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That information on options and recommendations for a pilot remote testimony program during the 2020 legislative session, including estimated costs of resources for start-up and operation, be developed and submitted to the Executive Rules Committee by October 1, 2019.”

Six years ago, we made a pitch to Washington lawmakers to embrace remote testimony. It is exciting to see the full legislature taking the final steps to embrace this important reform.