There are multiple ways you can influence the outcome of a bill in Maine’s Legislature.
The most powerful way to influence legislation is to testify before a legislative committee and speak about a bill. In 2023, after three years of Zoom-only testimony, Maine's legislature is allowing both Zoom and in-person testimony at public hearings before committees. Our Legislative Alerts (sign up here) will provide the date, time, and place when committees are hearing the highest priority bills that affect Maine’s lakes. They will also provide sample letters and key points supporting/opposing bills. To see a list of priority bills as they roll out in the legislature, click here.
See below for directions on how to testify in person, in writing, or via Zoom. Telling a personal story about your experience with lake protection will be engaging and compelling to committee members. The committee will get facts and statistics from organizations and agencies. Focus instead on a personal story that connects you to lakes. The same advice applies to written testimony. For tips on preparing testimony, click here.
You can also submit written testimony to the committee easily and quickly. You’ll need to know the committee where the bill is being heard, as well as the date and time of the scheduled hearing. You can upload a document or type your testimony in directly. Testimony does not have to be lengthy or overly detailed. For tips on writing testimony, click here.
• To submit written testimony: Visit www.legislature.maine.gov, and click on the “Testimony Submission” button (bottom, right). At the next screen select the committee where the bill is heard, then the date and time. Check the box for the bill you want to address. Upload your document (Word or PDF). You can also type text directly into the submission box. Below that, add your full name, town or organization in Maine (either full time or part time/seasonal residence), email and phone.
• To speak at the public hearing in-person: Plan to arrive at the committee room at the time of or a little before the scheduled hearing. Note that if there are other hearings earlier in the day, the schedule may be significantly delayed. Plan to be patient! Bring a book or some knitting to pass the time while you wait. Plan to bring 20 copies of written testimony or supplemental materials for committee members. Note that in-person testimony is typically limited to three minutes. People speaking at public hearings have been asked to not submit electronic testimony via the website. There may be a sign up sheet if the room is crowded. Please not for either Zoom or in-person testimony you often are limited to three minutes. While testifying can seem overwhelming, we can assure you that legislators are friendly and the atmosphere in the committee rooms is congenial and welcoming. Legislators listen to a lot of lobbyists, but they really like to hear from “regular” people who are passionate about a bill.
• To speak at the public hearing via Zoom: Follow the directions above but check the box beside “I would like to testify electronically over Zoom.” You do not need to upload any written testimony, but note that if you do you will need to upload it after you check that box. You’ll see an additional box to indicate that you support, oppose or are neutral on the bill. Uploading written testimony at this time is always a good idea so that legislators have a written record of the topics you are going to cover when you speak. Note that what you submit and what you say do not have to be the same, especially since you will likely be given a three-minute limit to speak and you may want to submit more information in writing. You will receive an invitation and Zoom link from the committee clerk.
Any questions? Email Susan Gallo at firstname.lastname@example.org FMI.
Thank you for speaking up for Maine's lakes!
Another way to influence a bill is to call your legislator, or meet with them face-to-face. After a committee has voted to move a bill forward, you can then also contact your individual senators and representatives to urge them to support the bill when it comes to a floor vote.
HOW TO FIND YOUR LEGISLATor:
- Map of Maine’s 151 House Districts (COMING SOON)
- House: 1-800-423-2900
- Senate: 1-800-423-6900