Guide to the Virtual 2021 Legislative Session
For your general information, the 2021 Legislative Session begins today, January 11th and adjourns Sunday, April 25th.
- To download this email as a PDF please click here
- To download more information about accessing the legislature click here
Meetings with Legislators
Meetings will be held virtually this year primarily over Zoom (Legislators will also be using Microsoft Teams to conduct caucus meetings). These zoom meetings will mostly be the usual 15-minute intervals as they would in person, but some may run longer or shorter. If you are participating in a scheduled meeting, please be block off 30 minutes to provide a logistical cushion to maximize our time with the Legislator and accommodate their busy schedules. Brevity will also be crucial to ensure we get all our priorities heard and answer any questions the Legislator may have.
How to Watch Committee Hearings
TVW has committed to continuing their partnership with the State of Washington to broadcast all committee hearings and Floor activity. We will provide updates, summaries and notifications regarding important hearings but below are links to view them on your own:
Committee hearing information can be found here
Watch online at: www.tvw.org
Testifying During Committees
With the Capital Campus restricted to only a handful of state employees and Legislators attending these meetings virtually, folks wishing to testify will need to do so remotely. Remote testimonies have been used sparingly over the past few years in certain designated off campus sites such as colleges, community centers and other public places. This year the Legislature has taken away restrictions on where a person can testify.
How to Register to Testify Remotely
- Select the committee and meeting date and time, then select the bill for which you would like to testify remotely. The link to testify is here.
- Select “I would like to Testify Live During the Hearing.” Remote testimony registration will close 1 hour before the start time of the hearing. Anyone who does not register before this deadline will be unable to testify before the committee.
- Ensure your registration information is accurate. It will be a part of the legislative record and used by TVW for online and television graphics.
Additional Information about Testifying
- Those who register for remote testimony will be emailed a Zoom link to the meeting upon registration. Each link is unique to the registrant. Registrants are prohibited from sharing links.
- You may participate via videoconference or phone.
- There is no guarantee that those who register to testify will be allowed to speak or be able to speak at specific times. You may be required to limit your comments.
- Maintain proper meeting decorum, including waiting to be acknowledged by the Chair before speaking and following rules for testimony established by the Chair.
- Committee and technical staff may not be able to address any connection or technical issues you may experience before or during the committee meeting.
Anyone who fails to follow the rules for testimony established by the Chair may forfeit their opportunity to testify. Legislators are being asked to follow in person dress codes and decorum while virtually attending these meetings, we recommend you do the same when testifying remotely.
Commenting on Bills
The best way to comment on a bill is direct communication with your districts’ legislators. If you have a good relationship with them and have their cell, text and calls are the most effective. If you do not have their cell phone number or feel like you have a close enough relationship to call, then email their office. You can find their contact information here. We recommend sending it to the Legislator but also cc’ing the Legislative Aide.
Lastly, there is also a process to comment on a bill over the Legislative website which you can do here. These are sent to Legislators but don’t always get seen by every Legislator as their staff usually screens these comments and may not prioritize those comments.
How to Submit Written Testimony When a Bill has a Hearing:
- Select the committee and meeting date and time, then select the bill for which you would like to submit written testimony. The link to submit written testimony is here.
- Select “I would like to Submit Written Testimony.” Written testimony will close 24 hours after the start time of the hearing.
- Provide your written comments in the form. Your comments will be sent to legislative members and staff of the committee and will be included in the legislative record for bill and meeting archival purposes but will not be used as part of testimony summary materials on the bill report.
Virtual Day in Olympia
Normally a day in Olympia would mean a whole day spent with as many Legislative meetings we can schedule, a lunch with keynote speakers, a possible reception and so much more that isn’t logistically possible in this year’s session. We will continue to have meetings scheduled that day virtually, but we could choose to focus our efforts on two main events: A virtual Legislative lunch and a virtual Legislative reception.
A virtual Legislative lunch could have a format that follows open attendance during the noon hour, with a keynote presentation and possible speaker for 10 minutes at a scheduled time during the hour (12:30pm). Prior to the presentation as Legislators enter, we would introduce them and after the presentation we could open it up to questions members may have for the Legislators.
A virtual reception could be very similar but in a more relaxed setting where we could encourage fun drinks and snacks. We would likely have the same presentation (hopefully with different legislators in attendance) and perhaps play an interactive game like trivia or something else to engage Legislators.
Campus Security Update
With recent events at our nation’s capital and here on our Olympia capital campus we would like to share the information given to the Third House during a phone call with the head of Senate Security. As you already know this is a “Virtual” session for 2021 and it will present many challenges for all. Security at the campus will be the maximum level with emphasis on the first two weeks. Here are the main issues shared during the call.
- The only entrance to the campus is a security check point on Sid Snyder Drive.
- Only Legislative employees with I.D. will be able to enter the campus. This was emphasized “No I.D. No Access” to the grounds.
- All building entrances will be physically guarded for entry. All key card access has been disabled at this time.
- All “Visitor Parking” is closed. This if for the entire campus, east and west.
To summarize the message from security was, stay home for your own safety and the safety of others. We know this session is going to be difficult for all of us.