How To Testify Before a Legislative Committee
Committees are the heart of Oregon's legislative process. The committee
process provides legislators more opportunity to closely study a measure
than would be possible in a floor debate. Committees may hear from many
people who support or oppose the measure.
Giving public testimony before a legislative committee can be an exciting
and fulfilling experience if you are prepared.
Your testimony may influence the committee's action. It also becomes
part of the permanent record and may be used in future research.
Listed below are suggestions to help make your presentation successful.
- Know Your Audience
The members of the committee are "citizen legislators." They
care that you have taken time out of your day to come and testify before
- Be respectful.
- Don't accuse committee members of causing your particular problem.
- Resist the temptation to scold, put down, or insult the decision makers
or other witnesses. This tactic will likely alienate them from your cause.
- Know the Issue
Support your personal opinions with as many facts as possible. Be knowledgeable
of the "other side of the story." You may be asked to discuss
the differences. Draw from your own knowledge and experience.
- Be Familiar with the Committee Process
- Know the location of the building, the meeting room, and the meeting
- Agendas will be posted outside the meeting room. Check to make sure
the measure you are interested in has not been removed from the agenda.
The measures may not be heard in the printed order.
- If possible, attend a committee meeting before you testify to become
familiar with the process and room layout.
- When you arrive at the meeting, sign the witness registration sheet.
Witnesses are not necessarily called in chronological order.
- Presenting Your Written Testimony
- When you are called to testify, give copies of your testimony to committee
staff before you begin your presentation. The number of copies requested
is printed on the bottom of the committee meeting agenda.
- Begin your presentation by addressing the chairperson first, then members
of the committee. "Chair___, members of the committee . . ."
- For the record, state your name, address, and the organization or group
- State whether you support or oppose the legislative measure being heard
and briefly explain. Do not read your testimony to the committee word for
word. Prepare an outline.
- Keep in mind you may have a ten minute version of your testimony--be
prepared to summarize it in one minute--that may be all the time you are
- Thank the committee members and offer to answer any questions. "Thank
you for the opportunity to testify before you today. I would be happy to
answer any questions."
- When a member asks you a question respond: "Chair ______ , Senator/Representative
(state name), the answer to your question is . . ."
- Relax! The members understand that this can be an intimidating experience--they
don't expect a perfect presentation.
- Group Testimony
- Select several people to cover different topics so the testimony is
- Address the problem, possible solutions, and your group's best solution.
If you require special accommodation in order to testify before a
committee, please contact the committee administrator or support staff 24
hours BEFORE the meeting with your request.
Contact Numbers: (503) 986-1813 or (503) 986-1187
TDD (503) 986-1467 (inside Salem)
1-800-332-2313 (outside Salem)
If you need information regarding the legislative
process, email the Legislative
Liaison, or call 503-986-1000.
If you have technical questions about this site,
please email Oregon Legislative Information
Systems, or call 503-986-1914. However, the staff of the Oregon Legislature
cannot respond to requests for legal advice from anyone except members of the
Oregon Legislature. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should
consult your own private lawyer.