Legislature makes history with remote testimony Monday

Posted at 1:22 PM, Feb 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-26 16:49:40-05

For the first time, an Idaho legislative panel accepted remote testimony during a committee meeting.

The new program allows citizens to testify from Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Salmon, Twin Falls, Post Falls and Moscow.

During the first opportunity Idahoans had to offer remote testimony, constituents were able to weigh in on a handful of House education bills, including a bill encouraging public schools to offer gun safety classes and a bill that would continue to allow schools to hire relatives of school board members in rural areas.

The program is being spearheaded by House Education Committee Chairwoman Julie VanOrden, a Republican from Pingree, and Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, a Republican from Genesee.

"I have to address them just like if they were sitting in our committee and testifying at our podium," VanOrden said. "We kept the same protocol that we do when somebody's in our committee, so I felt like it went very well. People were very respectful."

Currently, remote testimony is only being accepted on bills selected by VanOrden, but Troy is hoping to expand the program to other committees depending on interest.

Citizens interested in testifying can go to the legislature’s homepage and register to testify on a bill.

In order to testify, you must sign up to testify at least 24 hours in advance of when the bill will be heard in committee. 

The Associated Press contributed to this article.