Big Sky Roundup

Short-lived measure to require in-person testimony dies in Senate

By: - January 5, 2021 7:50 pm

Kalispell Republican Sen. Keith Regier’s short-lived decision to disallow virtual public testimony in his Senate Judiciary Committee gave way to a ruling from Senate committee chairs that all committees must allow the public to testify over platforms like Zoom. 

Regier’s announcement this morning was met with immediate pushback from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, who argued that it would be irresponsible to force members of the public to push through crowds of unmasked lawmakers and other capitol denizens in order to testify in person. 

House leadership and committee chairs have not issued any such edict, said House GOP spokesman Dylan Klapmeier. However, he said, all House-side committee chairs have agreed to allow public testimony over live-video conferencing, making it a non-issue.

House Speaker Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, has previously labeled this session the most “accessible” in history, as the Legislature will allow for remote participation for the first time. 

Klapmeier said that theoretically a House committee chair could decide to limit public testimony, as the chamber’s rules are still in flux, but that there’s no evidence of this happening at this stage.

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Arren Kimbel-Sannit
Arren Kimbel-Sannit

Arren Kimbel-Sannit is an Arizona-bred journalist who has covered politics, policy and power building at every level of government. Before getting his dose of northern exposure, Arren worked as a reporter in all manner of Arizona newsrooms, for the Dallas Morning News and for POLITICO in Washington, D.C. He has a special interest in how land-use decisions affect working-class people, which he displayed through reporting on the epidemic of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. for the Los Angeles Times and PBS Newshour. He's also covered housing, agriculture, the Trump presidency and more.