NUTS AND BOLTS
First, remember to breathe! You can do this! Legislators pay attention when someone takes time out of their day to attend or testify at a public hearing. They are listening to their constituents and want to know your story.
Let’s deal with the basics first.
Dress professionally when possible. You don’t need a new suit, but casual business attire is appropriate. Always be neat.
It will be a long day. Bring snacks, but be discreet and quiet in the hearing room. Don’t be digging into a bag of crinkly potato chips. Bring a beverage or two. If you are bringing a lunch, it is best to leave the hearing room for that purpose. There is a cafeteria on-site but seating will be limited.
Bring chargers for your phone. Outlets in the Legislative Office Building are limited. External battery chargers are helpful to bring. Turn your phone on to vibrate while in the hearing room.
Everyone must enter the Legislative Office Building (LOB) from the Hungerford Street (West) side of the building. You will go through a metal detector like at the airport. Build in time for this. No knives are allowed.
TESTIMONY SIGN UP
Testimony sign up usually takes place early in the morning in the LOB lobby. Every committee handles sign-ups differently. Please check alerts and our website for details about specific hearings.
GENERAL INFO The first hour of testimony is reserved for legislators and state officials. Others are allotted 3 minutes to testify. One page of double spaced writing usually fills the 3 minutes. If you are nervous, you can read your testimony. If many others have testified before you, you can summarize your testimony and make sure you state your position: “Please Vote No on Bill No. 123.” If you have been following the testimony of others, you can address issues they have raised that wasn’t included in your testimony. More information about testifying in Connecticut can be found here.
The public hearing may be televised on CT-N. You can visit the site, and watch video archives to get a feel for what a public hearing looks like by clicking here.
Be polite and respectful. If you are there to observe, do not clap or make noises in response to other’s testimony.
TIPS ON WRITING
1. Check for info on whether or not emailed testimony will be sufficient for the Committee hearing the bill. You can find the Committee email on the website. Look under Committees on the main menu bar.
2. Write out your testimony and bring a copy with you so you can be prepared. Check the specific committee for information about whether or not they want hard copies.
3. State your position clearly and early. “I’m Sally Smith and I oppose HB 123.”
4. CRESR OUTLINE:
CONCISE STATEMENT: HB 123 is an unnecessary intrustion into family privacy.
REASON: Regulation is unnecessary and counter-productive.
EXAMPLES: Existing law recognizes the parents as having the right to the training and upbringing of their children. Other laws address any concerns that might exist.
STATISTICS/SOURCES: One study shows no significant impact when regulations are increased. Another state’s audit showed a negative impact of regulation of keeping children safe.
REQUEST: Please vote No on HB 123.
5. SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
Clerks and legislators are listening for the Bill Language. They have a limited time to process all of this. Your testimony should use the language of the bill: “HB 123, which is geared to keeping children safe, is ineffective to keep children safe and will instead expose more children to the danger of parental alientation.”
LISTEN to your opponents. What phrases are they using? Look to the wording of the bill and the stated purpose. If they want to close loopholes, respond as to why the bill will not close loopholes, or why there are no real loopholes.
6. THANK THEM AND LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE OPEN FOR QUESTIONS.