Raise your voice – How to testify on a bill
Have you ever wanted to let state legislators know what you think about a particular bill?
The perfect time for this is during the public hearing season of the state legislative session, when people can speak up about specific bills.
You can either submit written testimony, testify virtually, or both (submitting written testimony when you plan to testify virtually is a good idea – in case you don’t have time to say everything you want to).
Submitting written testimony
You don’t have to testify in person or via Zoom (how hearings are currently being held in 2022) – you can just write down what you want to say in a document, attach it (as a Word doc or PDF), and send it via email the day before the hearing.
To get the hearing date and correct email address to send testimony, you can check the Bulletin (details on how to do that below). When you email your testimony, put "In support/opposition of [bill number]" in the subject line, and in the body of the email, make sure to identify yourself (name, town or organization), what bill you are testifying on, and your position (support or oppose).
When we share action alerts for written testimony, we make sure to include the right email address for you to send your written testimony — sign up for our action alerts.
What to write
- In your opening paragraph, make sure to thank the committee for the opportunity to testify, identify who you are, where you live or what organization you are with, if you are supporting, opposing, or suggesting specific ways to improve the bill, and include the bill number and title.
- Your middle paragraphs are the meat of your testimony. Here is where you can explain why you support, oppose, or what to modify the bill. All you need to do is explain what this bill would mean to you in your personal or professional life – and feel free to share a personal story. Legislators need to understand why this bill
- In your closing, restate your position (supporting or oppose), and thank the committee for their time.
Testifying in person
Virtual testifying via Zoom is now the norm for the state legislature, as we are still dealing with a global pandemic. Where before you had to go up to the Capitol in Hartford and testify in person, now you can testify from wherever you are via Zoom.
How to testify via Zoom
- You need to make sure to register before the deadline (usually the afternoon before the public hearing) at the link provided in the Bulletin (details on where to find that below) or, if we send out an alert, we will include the virtual testifying registration link – you can sign up for our action alerts here.
- You should receive your unique Zoom link from the committee you will be testifying in front of.
- The evening before the hearing, the committee will post the speaker order for the next day’s hearing. You should find yourself on that list and make a note of what number you are and who you’re after.
- To find the speaker order list go to the Connecticut General Assembly website
- Find the drop down for “Committees” in the top menu and then click on the committee you will be testifying in front of
- Click on “Testimony” under “Public Hearing” – this will bring you to a list of hearing dates; click on the date of your hearing and at the top of that page will be a link to “Click for Speaker Order”
- That opens a document with a list of everyone testifying in numerical order
- The day of the hearing, log into the hearing via the Zoom link when the hearing begins. When it is close to your turn, the committee clerk will invite you to join the panel and once you are called, you will be unmuted (or may have to unmute yourself) and deliver your testimony.
- You have three minutes to testify, so don’t try to deliver all of your written testimony if it is long. Edit it down and just give the highlights, the big ideas. Practice it a few times and time yourself. 3 minutes is shorter than you think!
Our action alerts sent via email include testimony alerts, which include all the details you need to testify on health justice bills we are supporting, including:
- The bill number and a little explanation
- The correct email address for submitting written testimony
- Suggestions for what you can say in your testimony
- The link to register to testify virtually via Zoom or phone
Sign up for these helpful alerts, and also receive important news and information from us, by clicking here.
Finding the Daily Bulletin
The state legislature releases a Bulletin every day and the current session’s Bulletins can be found here. What is most important for testifying, whether written or virtually, is the section on public hearings.
You’ll need to look for the section titled “Public Hearings” and scroll through to find the committee and date of the hearing you are interested in. Make sure the bill you want to testify on is listed.
Take note of the instructions at the beginning of the hearing announcement – it has the Zoom link to register to testify virtually (or via phone), the deadline for that registration, the email address to send written testimony and any other important details.