A relatively unique aspect of the legislative process here in Maine is that every bill gets a public hearing. Which means anyone can testify on a bill in Augusta. No exceptions. All that's required is a little bit of prep work on your end.
Here is a quick guide on how to effectively testify on a bill:
- Check the schedule and find out when & where hearings on the bills you're interested in will be held. Set time aside in your schedule and make sure you arrive early. And don’t forget to take note of the room number.
- Once you have determined the when & where of the hearing, contact your legislators to let them know you'll be coming to testify. They may be able to help make introductions to the committee members. Contact info for your senators can be found here and contact info for your representatives is available here.
- Take time to prepare your testimony in advance. Practice what you are going to say. It’s especially helpful to read your testimony to yourself out loud or to record yourself practicing and go back and listen. Weak phrasings that seem good on paper often reveal themselves when spoken out loud. Harvard has great advice on public speaking, here.
- In your testimony, make sure you include your: (1) name and the town/city you live in, (2) personal connection to the bill, (3) accurate facts & evidence, and (4) a thank you to the committee for their time.
- (Optionally) Print out 24 copies of your testimony to bring with you. These copies can be given to the committee members as a reference to look back on.
- When speaking, be sure to keep your testimony short & to the point, remain calm and unhurried, and stay concise while answering any questions the committee may have for you.
- Learn more here.
For updates on bills we'll be following through the session, keep checking back at our action center. Now get out and participate in your democracy!