CHARLESTON, WV - Citizens who wish to speak out regarding legislation under consideration by the West Virginia Legislature will be assured additional opportunities to do so thanks to a measure adopted on the last night of the recently completed legislative session.
House Minority Leader Tim Armstead today applauded passage of House Resolution 44, which assures that public hearings will be held, upon the request of any legislator or any interested person or organization, no sooner than the second calendar day after they are announced on the House floor. Details regarding public hearings now must also be posted on the legislative website.
As one of their goals for the 2012 Session, Republican members of the House of Delegates had called for such changes to the House Rules related to public hearings in order to make government more open and accessible to the people of West Virginia. Earlier in the session, Republican House members introduced a proposed rule change to revise the public hearing process. Later in the session, Armstead, Speaker Rick Thompson and other House members worked together to craft House Resolution 44, which enjoyed bi-partisan support.
“I strongly believe it is critical that the citizens we represent have every opportunity to tell us, as their elected representatives, how they feel about the legislation we are considering.” said Armstead.
"Many West Virginians have shared with us their frustration regarding the way public hearings have been held in the past. Under the old rules, hearings have been called with only hours of notice and many citizens were either unaware of the hearings or simply did not have sufficient time to travel from their homes to the capitol to participate."
"We recognize that people have jobs and family responsibilities. Many live several hours from the capitol. Hard-working West Virginians throughout our State who want to voice their views at public hearings must have advance notice in order to make plans to attend. Announcing a hearing in the morning and holding it in the afternoon of the same day simply isn't reasonable and denies many citizens the right to participate and be heard" Armstead said.
Generally, under the newly adopted rule, if any citizen timely requests a public hearing on a measure prior to the final days of the session, that hearing must be held before the House votes on the measure, and the House must wait until the second calendar day after the hearing notice is published before the hearing is held.
"My Republican House colleagues and I felt strongly that this issue needed to be addressed this year in order to make the House more accountable to the citizens we represent. We were pleased to work with Speaker Thompson and the House leadership, in a cooperative and bi-partisan fashion, to create a public hearing process that allows the voices of all of our citizens to be heard.” Armstead said.
For more information you may contact Minority Leader Tim Armstead at (304) 340-3320 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
# # #