House proposes remote testimony resolution

By JASON MERCIER  | 
Mar 11, 2019
BLOG

Although the House and Senate may not refer to each by name during session, it’s good to see they can learn from each other. A bipartisan group of more than 50 Representatives have proposed HR 4621: Requesting information on options and recommendations for a pilot remote testimony program. Earlier this year the Senate announced it was making remote testimony a permanent resource for Washingtonians.

Rep. Rude said in a press release today:

“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.”

For many Washingtonians across the state, participating during the legislative session means taking a full day off work or school to travel all day for the chance to provide a few minutes of testimony. For those on the eastside of the state, there is also the danger of traveling across a mountain pass during the winter.

Remote testimony is the perfect tool to help address these problems and provide the opportunity for more Washingtonians to have their voices heard on the laws that will impact their lives.

Six years ago, we made a pitch to Washington lawmakers to embrace remote testimony. It is exciting to see the Senate make this a permanent resource and now the House exploring ways to also embrace this important legislative participation reform.