Transparency and Access to Government
The Wyoming Legislature is trying an experiment today in allowing testimony before a standing legislative committee by videoconference. Usually, in order to testify in support or opposition to a bill before the legislature you have to travel all the way to Cheyenne and appear in person. The legislature has set up one committee room (Room 302 for those familiar with the Capitol Building) with monitors and cameras. People who wish to testify will be able to go to a videoconference site in their hometown and testify from their own town.
Today we are going to experiment by trying it out with the committee that I chair, the Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee will hear the DUI bill at 8 a.m. this morning and will hear testimony over videoconference from sites throughout the state. Then we will repeat it again at Noon for the Access to Justice bill. It will be interesting to see if we get much interest. We have tried to advertise it throughout the state, so that people are aware of this new option. Depending on the use, we will decide whether to expand the program.
I think it is great to see a push to increase access by citizens to their elected officials. Traveling all the way to Cheyenne has always been a roadblock to hearing from everyone affected by our decisions. We certainly hear from citizens in the southeast part of the state, but it is rare to hear testimony from anyone on the western side of the state.
Beyond just testifying, it gives the citizens an opportunity to actually see their legislators at work. By providing transparency it hopefully improves the work being done.