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WA Lege Day 19: Ordinary people testify first?

OLYMPIA -- Average citizens who come to Olympia to testify before a House committee will get preference when the list of witnesses is long and the amount of time is short.

The House of Representatives changed its rules Friday to give preference to people who aren't lobbyists or state officials when that chamber's committees hold hearings on bills.

Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said some residents of Eastern Washington travel as far as 400 miles one way to testify for or against proposed laws. They're so passionate they'll get up at 2 a.m. to be in Olympia for an 8 a.m. hearing, then return home that day, she said; they deserve to be heard.

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said committee chairmen and chairwomen generally do a good job of making sure people get a chance to be heard, and the Democrats had no objection to the rule change proposed by Republicans.The "Citizens First" rule passed 93-0, the only one of four rule changes proposed by the GOP to pass.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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