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What You Should Know About Testifying Before a Legislative Committee

Essentials of a Well-Prepared Legislative Testimony​

What You Should Know About Testifying Before a Legislative Committee​

Inform your purpose

Know the process and the stakeholders​

Check the legislative schedule

State your position clearly and succinctly

Summarize your recommendations

Add context with stories

Identify Yourself

Offer a compelling closing statement with a specific request for action

Refer to the bill by number and title

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Essentials of a Well-Prepared Legislative Testimony​

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Be sure to triple check your facts, statistics and other information before providing written communication or legislative testimony. Prepare to explain where your data came from or how you collected it as legislators​might as about that. ​​Keep in mind that legislative testimony and written communication to legislators are both matters of public record. Misrepresenting facts could be construed as a misdemeanor offence subject to corresponding penalties as outlined in state-specific statutes.​

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  • Open your testimony by using the committee chair’s name and addressing the committee formally. Example: Senator Mullica, and members of the committee, I am here today to testify…” ​
  • State your name and your nursing specialty (if applicable). Do not identify your employer unless you have written permission from the organization to speak on their behalf. ​

Identify Yourself

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  • Use the entire bill number (i.e., HB22-1401) when referencing during the testimony. The 22 in HB22 signifies the year the bill moved through the legislative process and is an essential component of the bill’s identifiers. ​

Refer to the bill by number and title

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State your position succinctly and clearly so that legislators know what you want them to do. (Support, oppose, delay, etc.) ​Examples: ​

  • I am testifying today in favor of HB22-1401.​
  • I urge you to delay action on HB22-1041 until more impact information is gathered and analyzed.​
  • I urge you to oppose HB22-1401.

State your position clearly and succinctly ​

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  • After stating your position, summarize your recommendation(s) and add explanations including why you believe your position is the right one.

Summarize your recommendations ​

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  • Use a personal or professional story to make a compelling case for action in alignment with your position. ​

Add context with stories​ ​

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Wrap up the testimony with a compelling closing statement that reiterates your request that legislators support your position. Examples:​

  • I urge you to delay action on HB22-1041 until more impact information is gathered and analyzed.​
  • I urge you to oppose HB22-1401. ​
  • I urge you to vote in favor of HB22-1401. ​
Thank the committee chair and members for allowing you to testify. Offer to address questions or provide additional information about the issue or the bill. ​

Offer a compelling closing statement with a specific request for action.​

Each state’s legislature has a website containing information about current bills moving through the policy process. To find it you will likely need the bill number or title and the name of the sponsoring legislator(s). Look for testimony procedures, too, as each state is different. Be sure to check in with the bill’s sponsor or a member of their staff to let them know you plan to testify.

Check the legislative schedule

Before you testify, be sure you know:

  1. Who is sponsoring the bill and why it is important to them
  2. Who chairs the committee
  3. Who the key proponents and opponents of the bill and their positions about it.
Knowing this information will help you address the policy topic with greater clarity and credibility. Do not associate yourself with a specific organization unless you have permission from the organization to speak on its behalf.

Know the process and the stakeholders

Be sure that your information and facts are current and credible. Using a personal story is appropriate if it is well-informed and serves as an example rather than rhetoric. Clarify your position on the bill. Are you trying to:

  1. Persuade
  2. Dissuade
  3. Provide expertise
  4. Or, insight delayed action in a bill?
State your position early in the testimony and ensure your information, facts and stories align with your position.

Inform your purpose