The League of Women Voters whole-heartedly support SCR 216/SR 146 which would create a legislative task force to make recommendations for statutory enactment to enhance transparency in legislative proceedings.
Transparency is important to public understanding of how government works, and why certain legislation gets passed and others rejected. Absent transparency, the public can only resort to speculation.
The public does understand the tremendous pressures members of the Legislature work under. You have your internal deadlines to meet in order to be able to meet the external deadline and restrictions in our State Constitution. You do need to compress a great deal of work within a very short period of time. Lobbyists, professional and volunteer, feel the pressure too so we do understand.
The task force’s discussions on how the legislature might achieve greater transparency to accommodate the public’s right to know would be quite instructive to legislators and the public alike. Legislators might discover quite a few ways of operating in the light, and the public might learn about certain concessions we may need to make barring a change in the legislative schedule.
We are convinced that if the task force begins with the assumption that much can be
opened to the public without detriment to the process, you will succeed in meeting the public’s expectations. If it finds that certain time restrictions make it difficult, maybe its time we reconsidered some of the provisions in our constitution. Maybe we’re compressing too much in a short period of time, and spreading out the sixty days over a longer period of time so that there’s time for more reflection, research and discussion may result in better legislation.
Through this public discourse, providing that the task force abides by the open meetings law as this resolution provides, the public and the legislature may learn to understand each other’s frustrations and disillusionments.
Certainly, asking that the public be given an opportunity to comment on your house rules before you adopt them is a reasonable request.
We urge the passage of SCR 216/SR 146. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on a very important resolution.