Technology makes law-making process more accessible

By Rep. Elizabeth Bishop

The 2021 Kansas Legislature is winding down its business for this year. We return from spring break on May 3, conduct our “wrap-up session” until May 11. We may adjourn sooner, depending on how the action goes.

As we finish up, here are some musings on the future. I can’t help but observe that the pandemic has changed the statehouse forever. It sped up the process of getting this beautiful old building wired for the 21st Century. It is now possible to get on a committee list, email your testimony, and then present in person to a committee, all without leaving the convenience of your office or home.

It is now possible for members to attend and follow legislative activity without leaving home. During the February ice and snow spell, I chose to not venture onto the turnpike. Instead I attended virtually. I now have a “Zoom corner” of my living room, where I can log in and attend almost any activity going on in the statehouse. 

I must point out that we do not allow long-distance voting, but that may change in the future.

One can hope this advance in technology will help average citizens to follow legislative activity in Topeka more closely. That it increases the visibility of the Kansas Legislature. Things done in Topeka can have a more immediate and long-lasting impact than the glacial pace of Congress in Washington, D.C. Citizens can now follow Kansas committee schedules, get on a list to testify on bills that matter, and participate fully—without leaving the comfort of their home.

We are only at the start of this new technology. 

The Active Age invited Rep. Elizabeth Bishop of Wichita, the Kansas Legislature’s most senior member, to write a monthly column during this year’s legislative session. This is her fourth column.

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