TIPS FOR WRITING & DELIVERINg TESTIMONY

The most effective method for testimony is to both speak in front of the committee, and submit copies of your comments in writing HERE. Legislators will then have your comments in their files, and your comments will also be part of the written record (available online) for that bill.

speak from the heart!

Greet the two committee chairs by name (“Good afternoon Chair  X, Chair Y, and Distinguished Members of the Z Committee”). 

Give a local or personal example illustrating why you’ve taken a position on a bill. Try to be specific about the benefits/threats to lake values like wildlife habitat, economic/spiritual/recreational resources, beauty, aesthetics, etc.

Close your spoken comments by thanking the committee for the opportunity to address them. 

The legislators may have questions for you when you finish. Answer them forthrightly. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. 

Never overstate or exaggerate; it undermines your credibility.

Telling personal stories and sharing experiences can be more effective than all the data and graphs in the world.

keep it short.

You generally have less than three minutes to get your message across. Limiting your focus to one or two main points for your testimony is best.

how to structure?

Include your name and where you live in the first sentence, as well the position you’re taking (support/oppose/neither for nor against) and the name and number of the bill. If you are part of a group like a Lake Association, Land Trust or Alliance, or you volunteer for a lake group or relevant town committee, be sure to include that in your introduction.

Spoken testimony does not have to match verbatim what you submit in writing.

If you find your testimony repeating points others have made in detail, do your best to edit your spoken comments so they reflect your concern but perhaps without lengthy repeats in explanations. Legislators appreciate efficiency!

submit supporting material.

You are allowed to submit written materials (which can include additional comments, charts, maps or information prepared by you or other experts) to help make your case. Make sure to bring 20 copies for committee members.

take notes.

Taking notes on the testimony submitted by others can help you track points that need reiteration, further clarification, or rebuttal when you speak. You may address these issues during your oral testimony or through additional written comments submitted after the hearing.

be polite.

Public hearings can become very emotionally charged. You may hear some things that you strongly oppose, or things that you absolutely agree with. It is important to keep your emotions under control and your statement focused on points that will advance your position. Expressing your frustration about someone else’s testimony cuts into the limited time you have to address your important arguments and make your case.

logistics

To either speak at the hearing via Zoom or submit written testimony: Visit www.legislature.maine.gov, and click on the “Testimony Submission” button (bottom, right) at least 30 minutes prior to the hearing. At the next screen select the committee where the bill originates, then the date of the hearing. Finally, check the box for the bill you are addressing. Then:

To submit written testimony, upload your document (Word or PDF file). 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. Note that you may show up to speak at a pubic hearing without submitting written testimony.

To speak at the public hearing via Zoom, fill out the contact information as above but also click the box that says “I would like testify electronically over Zoom." You'll then see added boxes to indicate if you support, oppose or are neutral on the bill. Although written testimony is not required, upload testimony at this time if you’d like the committee to have a written record of your comments. Please note, you must upload your written AFTER you have selected the live testimony box. If you upload before checking this box, your file will be deleted after you check the box.

To speak in-person at the public hearing, arrive at the hearing room at least 10 minutes early and if there is a sign up sheet for specific bills, add your name. If you want to share anything with the committee, bring 20 copies to the room. You may also submit written testimony in advance via the portal above.  The state maintains an excellent page with resources for testifying before committees here. If you are unsure which committee is hearing a particular bill, search for the bill by LD number or key word here. If you use the "Consolidated Bill Tracking Page" (the second section), you will see the committee information at the top of the page. 

Persons with special needs wishing to participate in a Legislative hearing who require accommodations should notify the Legislative Information Office as soon as possible: 207-287-1692, FAX 207-287-1580, lio@legislature.maine.gov. 

Thank you for speaking up for Maine's lakes!

Committee meetings may be heard at www.mainelegislature.org and click the audio link in the top right corner.

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