Urges constituents to forward videos detailing their view on PA budget priorities

HARRISBURG, May 7, 2012 – As budget negotiations heat up to head toward completion, state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams is urging constituents to ensure that their voices are heard on how they think the state should spend its limited resources.

Williams, who serves as Democratic chair of the State Government Committee, has introduced a new feature on his web site, Budget Stories. Constituents can submit a video up to three minutes long, offering their priorities for the 2012-13 budget. The feature can be found at https://www.senatoranthonyhwilliams.com/budget-stories.

“Governing requires a two-way conversation. That’s the basis of our democracy,” Williams said. “Yes, our lives are busier than ever, and finding the time to be more engaged, to write those letters or drop by a legislative office, has become more difficult. I get that.

“Thankfully, technology is helping to close these gaps. And we want to encourage constituents to use the full spectrum of tools to express themselves. That’s what this initiative is all about.”

Williams plans to draw insight from the submitted videos for ongoing budget discussions as well as upload selected clips to his social media pages and other outlets. All entries should be family-friendly in tone.

Budget Stories is just the latest effort by Williams to deepen citizen engagement in the legislative process.

A year ago, he introduced a state-wide contest for citizens to submit legislative suggestions to lawmakers. That inaugural competition contest yielded a new bill to protect against false claims of non-payment on child support by allowing non-custodial parents the right to have their child support payments documented with the state.

Likewise, another submission led to an amendment to a bill submitted to help put criminal background checks under the purview of the state, rather than error-prone private firms, whose mistakes have cost would-be employees job offers. The amendment would prohibit disclosure of misdemeanor offenses committed when the applicant was under 21 as well as misdemeanor offenses by an applicant who has been free of arrest or prosecution for seven years or more.

“As these cases demonstrate, some of the best ideas come from beyond the Capitol, and creating avenues to amplify them just makes sense,” Williams said. “Today’s technology is helping in cost-effective ways. Many cell phones now have video features. I want people to use them.”

Those without video equipment can call the office before June 1 at (215) 492-2980 to schedule a taping.

“This is what civic engagement can, and should, look like,” Williams said. “Our voice and role as citizens extend beyond voting on Election Day.

“Be it a town hall meeting or a Facebook video, we must take opportunities to interact with the people elected to serve us. And this is one elected official open to the possibilities of where those dialogues can lead.”