How to Testify in Committee
Public participation in committees is an integral part of the process for the legislature and the building welcomes those who want to make their voices heard on important bills.
Finding the Committee Room
The General Assembly Website will let you know which committee room the bill is being heard in but for the most part almost all of the Senate Bills being heard will be held in the Senate Committee rooms – 352, 354, and 357 – or the Old Supreme Court Chamber. All three committee rooms are located in the same hallway on the Third Floor of the Capitol building on the east side, while the Old Supreme Court Chamber is on the south side. Take the elevators or stairs up to the third floor and the hallway leading to the rooms are in between the two elevators.
Before you testify on a bill you must sign in. Once you enter the committee room there will be a sign in sheet located at the front of the room usually by where the committee members sit. If you do not sign in you still have an opportunity to testify. Once everyone who has signed in has testified, the committee chair will ask “if there is anyone here who wishes to testify but who has not signed in” and this will be the last chance to testify, although you will be required to sign in after you testify. You will be asked on the sign in sheet whether you are testifying for or against a bill. You may also put if you are neutral and are there to make a statement.
Once called up, you will be welcomed and asked to state your name and who you represent. Citizens not representing an organization or group are welcome to state their name and say they are there on behalf of themselves. It is encouraged to keep comments concise and on-topic to be respectful to the committee member’s time as well as those who came to testify as well. For bills that will be expecting a lot of testifiers, the committee is allowed to limit testimony. This usually includes but is not limited to having a timer and allowing testifiers to speak for 3 minutes. Once you are done testifying the committee chair will ask the committee members if they have any questions for you, if they do you’re your time testifying on that bill in that committee is done. If any of the members does ask you a question, you will wait for them to address you and can then answer their question. Recognizing the testifier and the testifier recognizing and acknowledging the chair is done for those listening online so they know who is talking. Again, please recognize the chair once they introduce you and wait for the chair to recognize you before responding.
Witnesses may register for remote testimony by visiting this link.
To register, witnesses must provide their name, email address, phone number, zip code, position on the bill, and the name of the organizations they represent, if any. Witnesses who wish to testify via phone must provide the same phone number that they will use to call in to the committee hearing. This is to ensure that staff can match the witnesses’ registration records with the correct phone numbers during the hearing.
For more information on the process, please visit the General Assembly’s website.
The chairman of the committee has the authority to clear the public from the meeting if there is a disturbance or have the Sergeant-at-Arms remove anyone that they deem to be disruptive to the proceedings or decorum of the committee. Cheering, clapping, outbursts are all prohibited in committee meetings. You are not required to stay after you are done testifying but it is encouraged. If you are leaving please leave quietly so as not to disturb the audience and those beginning their testimony.
Meeting locations and times can change quickly and without much notice. This doesn’t happen often but be aware and always check the General Assembly website for the committee schedule.