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Bill would open hearing rooms for ballot measure testimony

Legislative committees would be allowed to host work sessions to take testimony on ballot measures in legislative hearing rooms, under a bill proposed in the Senate Government Operations and Security committee on Monday.

Board chairwoman Pam Roach, R-Auburn, is the prime sponsor of House Bill 5661. She said legislative facilities should be an available venue for debates and testimony on the pros and cons of statewide ballot measures.

“My reasoning is this, the people own this campus. It’s theirs. They are paying for the lights and they are paying for everything that’s here. We are here to pass the laws that effect the people,” she said. “There should be the same access to TVW to see the debate back and forth.”

Other members of the committee were in general agreement with the proposal, and tweaked the language on the bill so it would only apply to statewide measures.

The Legislative Ethics Board in 1997 ruled that using a committee hearing to take pro and con testimony on a ballot measure generally is prohibited because it could be seen as indirectly helping the measure.