Idaho is joining a small group of western states that allow remote testimony at legislative hearings. The pilot, which was announced today, will go live in 2018 and will allow local residents to provide video conference testimony at legislative hearings from college and university facilities across the state.
Currently Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington allow remote testimony at legislative hearings. In most cases, witnesses pre-register and attend the hearing either by phone or video conference. Local colleges and universities have stepped up to provide facilities for video conferencing at no cost, meaning that these programs can go forward without requiring additional funding.
Supporters of remote testimony note that it democratizes the legislative hearings process by allowing for a wider group of potential witnesses. Often, testimony can last a matter of minutes, which can prohibit in-person testimony from witnesses that would have to drive or fly many hours to the legislature to appear in person.
Idaho’s pilot was introduced by Representative Caroline Troy, (R-Genesee). She told Boise State Public Radio that the idea for the pilot came after she attempted to arrange testimony from one of her constituents in Moscow, Idaho who had to fly to the legislature, only to have the hearing rescheduled multiple times making it impossible for her to testify.
Representative Troy got several local universities and community colleges on board to provide facilities with video conference equipment in cities including: Carmen; Couer d’Alene; Moscow; Pocatello and Twin Falls.