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How to get involved in WA legislative session with COVID changes

The Capitol Building in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The Washington Legislature is going back into session and, of course, it’s going to be operating much differently than normally as a result of COVID, potentially making it more difficult for the public to be more involved in what’s going on. To give a sense of what to expect and share how people can get involved, Washington state GOP Chair Caleb Heimlich joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Usually, people would be able to head down to the capitol, they might testify in person, they might be able to have a conversation face to face with a lawmaker, but they’re not going to be able to do that this time.

“Yeah, so there will be tools and you can look this up online and we’ll be posting it on our website for ease of access, but you can sign up to testify on bills online, actually from home, on Zoom, and so we will post those links. … You can sign in and choose, ‘OK, I wanna testify on this upcoming bill when it’s in committee,'” he said.

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“The other thing that’s important to do is to make phone calls and send emails directly to your legislators, particularly on bills that you’re especially passionate about and that matter to you and your family,” he added.

While he doesn’t find it ideal, Heimlich says this process may allow a greater array of voices to be heard than just from those who typically show up in person.

“I think it’s important to point out that typically during a legislative session, if anybody’s ever watched TVW — which is incredibly boring, but you are watching what’s going on — 99% of the people that show up in Olympia on most bills and testify are in favor of bigger government, they’re on the left, they’re the activists,” he said. “Because those of us on the right have jobs, we have families, and we have lives going on. So it is incredibly important when you’re tracking a piece of legislation, when you’re tracking a bill, that we get involved. And having it virtually, I think, actually gives us that opportunity.”

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“You can do it from home,” Heimlich said. “You don’t even have to go all the way down to Olympia. Now, I’m certainly not advocating that this is how we should be doing business — don’t misconstrue my position at all — but there is maybe a slight benefit that people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to have their voices heard are able to log online and testify, and make sure that they are able to speak out against the capital gains income tax, speak out against these things that Governor Inslee is pushing that will be really detrimental for the people of Washington state.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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