How to Submit Testimony
You will need to know
- the “LD” number of the bill about which you want to testify
- the Standing Committee charged with holding the public hearing on that bill
- the date the Committee is scheduled to hold the hearing
You can find that information on this website: https://legislature.maine.gov/
The legislature’s website includes an article you may find helpful: Testifying At A Legislative Hearing.
You should submit your written testimony before the date/time of the public hearing. You have the option of just submitting it in writing -or- submitting it in writing AND reading it aloud in front of the Committee on the day of the public hearing. If the hearing is held online via Zoom, you do not need to provide paper copies of your testimony. If you are attending the hearing in person in Augusta to read your testimony aloud, you need to bring 20 copies for the Committee.
Write and save your testimony in a Word (or similar) document. Try to keep it to one page, single-sided. Most Committees impose a time limit for in-person testimony (usually 3 minutes), so you won’t be able to read much more than a page anyway. However, you can submit a longer written version, and then just read certain portions during your allotted time. (FYI: If you testify in person, Committee members may ask you a question or two after you have finished. If you don’t know the answer, it’s OK to say, “I don’t know, but I will get back to you with that information.” And then be sure you follow up with an email or letter to the Committee chairs, as well as to the specific legislator who asked you that question.)
For the opening salutation of your testimony, you will need to know the names of the Standing Committee’s two co-chairs. It’s also a good idea to scan the list of all the legislators who serve on the Committee in case your own Representative or Senator is there—if they are, be sure to mention them by name in your intro and identify yourself as a constituent. You can find the names of the Committee co-chairs and members here (choose the Committee name from the drop-down menu, then scroll to the bottom of the page you’re taken to)
Here is the standard format for heading and salutation that should appear at the beginning of your testimony:
Testimony before the Joint Standing Committee on [NAME OF COMMITTEE] [OFFICIAL TITLE OF THE BILL – i.e., “An Act to…”] [DATE OF THE PUBLIC HEARING]
Senator [CO-CHAIR NAME], Representative [CO-CHAIR NAME], and Members of the Committee:
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am [if you’re testifying as an individual, say, “a resident of [TOWN NAME]”; if you’re testifying as an official, authorized representative of an organization, state [YOUR TITLE] and your [ORGANIZATION NAME]. I am testifying in support of (or in opposition to) LD [bill number].
If you are testifying on behalf of an organization, it’s best if you can put your organization’s official logo centered at the very top of the page, and in your introduction, you should insert one or two sentences describing your organization, including membership stats and location.
WRITE THE BODY OF YOUR TESTIMONY:
Compelling testimony almost always involves storytelling—write/speak from your heart about what you know and what you care about. There will be plenty of policy analysts (a.k.a. “wonks”) whose testimony will provide the Committee with facts, figures and statistics. You can include some, too, but focus more on your personal story. If you are a faith-based advocate, don’t be afraid to say so, naming why your faith and beliefs compel you to testify about this bill. Write down everything you think you want or need to say—then edit, edit, edit until you can get it down to one page, single-sided. Your high school English teacher was right: “There is no great writing, only great rewriting!” And so was Mark Twain when he said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one.”
WHEN YOU ARE READY TO SUBMIT:
Remember: the deadline is the day before the hearing!
Choose: Public Hearing
Then select the committee, the date of the hearing, and finally, the bill LD #.
If you wish to present your testimony aloud during the Committee hearing (not required), check the box next to that option.
If your testimony is a digital document created on your computer, you have the option to upload that file by clicking the “Choose file” box.
Or you can copy and paste the text from a document into the submission form where it says “enter testimony below.”
Enter your first and last name. If you are submitting testimony as an individual, enter your town of residence. If you are submitting on behalf of an organization, enter the organization’s name, not a town.
The form will then ask for a valid email address for the person submitting the testimony, and a phone number.
Then click the box to indicate you are not a robot (unless you are a robot, in which case, we have bigger problems…)
Finally—and very importantly—be sure to click the “Submit/Register” button at the bottom.
You should receive a confirmation message on the screen, and you should receive a confirmation email sent to the address you entered on the form.
CONGRATULATIONS! You did it!