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‘Legislative YouTube’ bills would allow video testimony

by caprecord

Washington residents would have the option to weigh-in on what’s happening in Olympia through video, under joint bills being considered in the state House and Senate.

Senate Bill 5267 would allow people in this state to upload video from their smartphones or laptops and send it to lawmakers, who can review statements while considering bills. The state’s public affairs network TVW is being considered as a portal for resident to submit videos to lawmakers.

The so-called “Legislative YouTube” bill would make the legislative process more accessible for people who are unable to negotiate long distances, or have other barriers to physical testimony, prime sponsor Sen. Cyrus Habib told a Senate committee on Monday. “It’s incredibly difficult for nearly all Washingtonians to come before this body and have their perspectives heard,” Habib said.

Committees have accepted video testimony in the past, but only under certain circumstances.

“In the age of YouTube and selfies, you should be able to record your own video, at any time and place convenient for you, and get that video in front of your legislators as testimony on an issue or bill, just like the lobbyists can testify before committee every day,” the Kirkland Democrat wrote in a statement.

Habib told The Stranger the bill was inspired by a segment on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

No one testified in opposition to the bill during Monday’s hearing. Companion House Bill 1388, sponsored by Spokane Democrat Rep. Marcus Riccelli, has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.