Although less than 10 months have passed since the Washington Legislature was in Olympia, as the 2021 session opens almost nothing is the same. Considering those are 10 months when COVID-19 changed just about everyone’s lives, that’s not surprising.
Committee hearings and floor debates are expected to take place mostly on internet video platforms. The press corps might be taking bets on how many times in those early debates the presiding officer has to tell a legislator who has launched into a strenuous defense or objection to a bill: “Senator, you are on mute … Sorry, you are still on mute. Please unmute yourself.”
But this virtual session will have at least some pluses for people around the state who want to participate in some parts of the legislative process, or just keep track of what lawmakers are up to, without having to cross a mountain pass or get caught in Interstate 5 traffic.
As it has for years, TVW, the state’s public affairs network, will carry committee hearings and floor action online, as well as on its cable channel.
The Legislature can be a place where nothing is happening or where many things are happening at the same time. In the early weeks, there may be as many as nine committee hearings underway at the same time. Although TVW has only one cable channel, it can show all the committee hearings on its website. Go to TVW.org and click on the schedule button in the upper right.