Testifying Before Legislative Committees
Before the Committee Hearing
At the Committee Hearing
- To find out when your bill will be up for hearing, you can monitor committee agendas, but these do not generally provide much advance notice. Typically agendas are posted online in the afternoon for committee meetings the following day. You can check out committee agendas online at the State of Idaho Reading Calendars and Agendas website.
- You can also check the AIC Bill Tracker to see if the bill has been scheduled for a hearing. The most effective way to determine when a particular bill is up for hearing is to check with the committee secretary.
- Read the bill and carefully plan your testimony. You can find the bills online (arranged numerically and by topic) at the State of Idaho Legislative Tracking website.
- You will be more effective getting your message across if you have prepared your testimony in writing for distribution to committee members. You can then orally summarize your points to conserve time.
After You Testify
- Be early and be prepared to wait. Many committees meet upon adjournment of the House or Senate, which means that you may have to wait for legislators to finish their business on the floor.
- Sign-up sheets are available at all committee hearings. Be sure to sign your name when you arrive, indicate your position on the legislation and whether you intend to testify.
- The chair will announce when a particular bill is coming before the committee for discussion, and the bill’s sponsor is the first to speak. After testimony from the sponsor, the chair will ask to hear from those who have indicated on the sign-up sheet that they wish to testify about the particular bill.
- Begin your testimony by addressing the chair and committee members. State your name, address, and why you are there. For example: “Mr. (or Madam) Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Pat Q. Public and I’m from Emmett. I am in favor of this bill because...”
- Be prepared to answer questions from legislators. Respond to questions as best you can and don’t be embarrassed if you do not have a specific answer. When answering a question, always address your answer through the chair: “Mr. (or Madam) Chairman and Representative Smith, I appreciate your question...”
- Be courteous and brief, and try not to repeat testimony offered by previous speakers. Don’t be offended if legislators come and go during a meeting. They have other commitments including the need, at times, to present information in other committee hearings occurring simultaneously.
- Do not expect immediate committee action. The bill may be held until another day. If the vote on your bill is postponed and the chair does not announce a date for further consideration, check back with the committee secretary about future scheduling. You are welcome to stay after the discussion on your bill and listen until the end of the committee meeting.