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Legislative Committees Taking Live Remote Testimony (and Documents!) via Microsoft Teams

The South Dakota Legislature is participating in what we hope is a winter reflourishing of democracy by expanding opportunities for citizen participation in the Legislature. On Tuesday, the Legislative Research Council announced that, to help keep everyone safe from coronavirus, every Legislative committee will have the option to take remote testimony by audio and/or video through Microsoft Teams.

Those wishing to testify before the committee remotely must submit their request to the committee Chair at least 24 hours before the start of the committee meeting at which they want to speak. Requests can be submitted using the email addresses posted on the LRC website. The email request should include the testifier’s full name, whom they are representing (self, organization, etc.), city of residence, meeting date, the bill number they wish to address, and whether they are a proponent or opponent of the bill. Proposed handouts and reference materials should be attached to the email as Word documents or PDF’s.

Testifiers who are approved by the committee Chair to join the meeting remotely will receive a Microsoft Teams invitation to the committee meeting. During the meeting, the Chair will call on them by name at the appropriate time to offer their comments [LRC, press release, 2021.01.19].

The document-sharing feature may be particularly useful; I hope LRC will rig their Teams set-up to allow all remote listeners to see those documents as well.

If live online videoconferencing isn’t your thing, you can use those same committee email addresses to submit written testimony to the entire committee.

This expansion of remote testimony in our Legislative committees shows that moving committee work online doesn’t hurt the Legislative process; it actually opens the door more more citizens to participate in lawmaking.

3 Comments

  1. Mark Anderson 2021-01-21

    The pandemic has lead to more contact everywhere. I’ve participated in our local city council and it was enjoyable. Everyone should try it. Zoom has become the way to see relatives and you only have to keep one corner of your house picked up, its a win, win.

  2. Jake 2021-01-21

    Good move, encourages more participation by citizens. Perhaps in the future we will see more polling places for those sparsely populated areas of the state. “Under God the People Rule” is our state’s motto-
    Let’s show the legislators our power while they work for us, not just during the week of elections!!

  3. Rebecca 2021-01-22

    NB: Those responsible for checking those committee email addresses are interns, as I found out when my request for remote testimony was simply ignored or “lost.” Conversations with the LRC staff suggest there’ve been problems. If you’re planning to testify remotely, I’d recommend cc’ing the committee chair on that email.

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