Over the last year, I went to great lengths to seek expert input into a piece of state legislation (HB 2500). I had a number of meetings and phone conferences with people with backgrounds relating to various aspects of the bill.
Ultimately, working with a state rep, we proposed an amendment, and a friend and I arranged to go to Salem to testify in favor of it.
Two major problems:
(1) The date and time of the hearing were not locked down until the morning of the hearing. On Friday morning, it was expected the hearing would be Tuesday. But then we found out the hearing was going to be Friday after all. After canceling appointment with a client, I managed to get to Salem to deliver my testimony.
(2) The chair of the Senate committee before which we testified did not listen to our testimony. He was engrossed in a private conversation with the committee secretary, and did not look up once during the testimony, which lasted all of maybe 2 minutes.
A legislature that you have to engage with in person is a legislature that is inaccessible to the vast majority of people in our state, who do not have the freedom to rearrange their schedules at the last minute, travel hundreds of miles at their own expense, etc.
If we choose not to explore the use of modern communications technologies in order to increase civic engagement, that choice will keep our government institutions anchored firmly in the 19th century. It will prevent intelligent, motivated, hard-working people from having a voice in their own government.
posted 3 years, 7 months ago
view in context