COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – On Monday, state Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Avondale) announced that he will soon introduce legislation to permanently allow Ohioans to testify remotely in front of the General Assembly.
“Government is best when it is open, transparent and accessible to all,” Thomas said. “Ohioans should be able to participate in the legislative process even when they cannot be physically present at the Statehouse.”
The bill would require the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives to offer Ohioans the option to testify remotely before all standing committees, subcommittees, select committees and joint committees of the legislature.
“It’s not fair to ask Ohioans to travel all the way to Columbus to weigh in on proposed legislation,” Thomas said. “Most Ohioans aren’t able to leave their job or family on a weekday, and many don’t have access to transportation. Many Ohioans have disabilities or health conditions that also make it difficult to testify in person. This bill would allow all Ohioans to participate in the legislative process.”
At least 17 states – including Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey and Utah – already allow their residents to give remote testimony during legislative hearings.
A similar bill, House Bill 55, was introduced by state Representative Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) in the Ohio House. However, Sen. Thomas’ bill would permanently allow for remote testimony, while Rep. Kelly’s legislation would apply during the Covid-19 public health emergency.