Serving Franklin County, WA

Robust remote testimony to look forward to in 2021

There’s no other way to say, 2020 has been just an awful year. It is difficult to believe anything good can come from this mess but I’m really excited to see that one silver lining to our collective misery will be the opportunity for more public participation across the state during the 2021 Legislative Session. With news that lawmakers will primarily be conducting business remotely next year also comes the exciting announcement of expansive remote testimony for citizens.

According to details released by the Senate:

“The 2021 legislative session will provide members of the public with the opportunity to sign in and testify directly from their homes, places of business, or wherever is most convenient for them. Using the electronic sign-in process already utilized by legislative committees, the public will be able to sign-in up to one hour in advance of a scheduled committee meeting to receive a unique Zoom link. Chairs will then decide the order and length of public testimony as would be the case with an in-person committee meeting.”

Though this page will probably be updated when session starts, here are the current details on how to register for remote testimony. One important thing to note:

“People observing or testifying from a remote location are subject to the same rules of decorum as people at the Capitol. You must be recognized by the Chair before speaking, and you may be required to limit your comments. There is no guarantee that those who sign in will be allowed to speak or be able to speak at specific times.”

It’s been seven years since WPC first made the pitch to lawmakers to open the doors to Olympia with remote testimony. As WPC’s President Dann Mead Smith noted then:

“If the legislature truly wishes to hear from the people of the state of Washington, it needs to give those citizens the opportunity to be a part of the process.”

We are very grateful to all those who have helped along the way to make this a reality. This is why in 2019 we awarded Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) and Senators Mike Padden, (R-Spokane Valley), Sharon Brown (R-Richland) and then Senator Guy Palumbo (D-Maltby) as recipients of Washington Policy Center’s inaugural Summit Award for their successful efforts to strengthen the ability of citizens to participate in government via remote testimony.

Let’s hope that now this genie is fully out of the bottle, robust remote testimony for every bill hearing across the legislature is here to stay.


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