Senate staff confirms newly approved sites to be located at EWU-Cheney and Spokane Valley City Hall
Lawmakers today applauded news that the Senate’s remote-testimony pilot project will be expanding to two new sites in Spokane Valley and Cheney.
Sen. Mike Padden received confirmation this week from legislative staff that Eastern Washington University’s Cheney campus and Spokane Valley City Hall have joined the list of locations where people may offer testimony remotely during the 2019 session.
“This is great news,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “As a lawmaker who represents a district far away from Olympia, I appreciate having an opportunity to hear directly from the men and women I represent. But for them to testify on important measures in person, it can mean driving across the mountain passes at a time when making such a trip can be impossible or life-threateningly dangerous due to weather.
“Remote testimony allows those without the time, resources or physical ability to travel to Olympia to still have their voices heard on issues important to them.”
Rep. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, also welcomed the news.
“Olympia is a long way from Spokane, and because of this, voices from the Inland Empire are not often provided the opportunity to speak their minds to those who represent them in state government,” he said.
“Remote testimony gives a voice to those who don’t have the option to travel to Olympia and speak on issues they feel strongly about.”
Since 2014, Padden and Tri-Cities Senator Sharon Brown have led the effort to increase opportunities for public participation in the legislative process. The two requested an update from Senate and House administrators on progress to enable testimony from places outside of the Capitol, especially east of the Cascade Mountains.
The responses could not have been more different. The House of Representatives failed to respond, while for the past three years, the Senate has provided a detailed report about the successes of its pilot program.
Holy, who was elected to the Senate in November and will move to that chamber when the Legislature convenes in January, called on his current colleagues in the House to follow the Senate’s lead.
“The technology for this issue has existed for a long time, and providing remote-testimony access to Washington state’s citizens who live the farthest from Olympia is long overdue,” Holy added.
Under the Senate pilot project, through the use of videoconferencing technology, the public is able to testify remotely on proposed legislation scheduled for public hearing during selected Senate standing committee meetings. Opportunities to register for remote testimony will be listed on the Senate website. Registration forms must be submitted 24 hours prior to the committee hearing start time.