Chamber to host legislative briefings

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


Again this year, the Washington Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a series of legislative briefings with state legislators to give local people the opportunity to have face time with state lawmakers regarding the issues of the day.

Chamber director Michelle Redlinger confirmed that one briefing a month will be held during the state legislative assembly. The briefings will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Jan. 20; Feb. 17; and March 17, in the third-floor courtroom of the Washington County Courthouse. Legislators will give updates on what is happening in Des Moines. Audience members will have the chance to ask questions or make comments on the issues the state Legislature is working on. Representatives Jarad Klein and David Heaton and Senators Rich Taylor and Kevin Kinney are expected to attend.

?Its been going on for many years,? Redlinger said. ?One of the roles the chamber has and services we offer the community is education on important legislation or legislative issues. Facilitating the forum is an opportunity for us to bring the public together with area legislators and allow them to give an update of what is happening on the hill and what is important to the community. It also allows community members to ask questions.?

In a former interview, longtime moderator and Chamber volunteer Ed Raber said that one of the goals of the forums is to give everyone who shows up a chance to ask a question or make a comment. Because time is limited, people are asked to keep questions or comments to two minutes. Raber said there is no food or drink allowed in the courtroom. He also said the event is not amplified. He said many people from government-funded institutions attend the meetings. He also said the legislators find a lot of value in hearing the concerns of the constituents.

?It is kind of a firsthand thing,? Raber said. ?Even if you aren?t someone who has a burning question, there are people who show up because they find it to be interesting discussion. Everyone there doesn?t have to feel like they should participate. People can just listen and appreciate having the opportunity to be part of the community discussion.?

For more information, contact the Chamber at 653-3272.