Make use of remote testimony options

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Instead of going to the government, make the government come to you.

This is part of the concept behind offering remote testimony locations to Washington state residents during the upcoming Legislative session. For those of us living in the eastern part of the state, driving over the Cascade Mountains to the capital in Olympia isn’t always possible or practical.

The recent snow storms, bringing poor visibility and icy roads, have kept people close to home. During session, it is difficult for some to take time off work to make the trek to Olympia to participate in state government.

This is why the expansion of a video testimony program in the Senate is a welcome addition to the government process. A more diverse cross-section of people have the opportunity to testify on bills that impact them. Weather and schedules don’t have to be the final factors with participation. Last year’s pilot program was successful. During 19 hearings, 44 people gave expert testimony to six Senate committees. Last year’s locations were Columbia Basin College in Pasco, the Confluence Technology Center in Wenatchee, Educational Service District 101 in Spokane, Spokane Community College, Washington State University Spokane and Yakima Valley Technical College. Testimony was also offered from California, New York and Ohio. Big Bend Community College also offers this service at its ATEC Building.

Starting at 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20, Columbia Basin College in Pasco will host two hearings for the Trade & Economic Development Committee on Senate bills 6221 (developing business assistance materials to maintain and grow business in Washington) and 6100 (establishing an economic gardening pilot program). If you have input to offer, save the date and testify at one or both of the hearings.

Please remember there are rules one must follow as part of the process. You can’t just show up and expect to be heard. Participants must register to testify 24 hours before the hearing.

For more information about testifying please visit www.leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Testify.aspx.

“This is an important milestone in our effort to expand public access to legislative hearings,” stated Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “When people from my district wish to testify at a legislative hearing, they have to drive five hours over Snoqualmie Pass, often spending the night before they return. Remote testimony offers a way for the ‘rest of Washington’ to participate in the legislative process.”

We agree. Take the time to testify when remote options are offered this year. Doing so helps ensure government is better informed, better balanced and represents the entire state.

— Editorial Board

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