Learn regular committee schedules. Committee schedules are printed at the beginning of the session. The standing
committees usually meet on a regular basis at their scheduled times. The subcommittees are scheduled by the
subcommittee chairs, and a schedule of these meetings may be obtained from the committee secretary.
The bill number or topic you plan to cover should be registered with the committee secretary. You will usually
be notified when the item in which you are interested is scheduled.
Check the committee schedule at the information desk outside the House chamber when you arrive at the Capitol.
Secure a copy of the bill. If you don't have one already, get a copy of the bill or bills to be heard.
Be sure you have the right version of the bill. Amended copies of the bill and amendments to be offered may be
available at the committee meeting. Ask the author, committee secretary, or staff member for amendments.
Arrive early enough at the meeting so that you can:
- Identify committee members as they take their places;
- Identify other persons who will testify;
- Pick up agenda, copies of bills, and amendments from the committee secretary.
To know who's who on committees, pick up a picture copy of members of the Legislature available at the
information desks. If you go to enough hearings held by the same committee, you will get to recognize not
only the legislators but lobbyists, state agency officials, and interested persons.
Pay strict attention. Take notes if you can on who said what, and try to get the gist of arguments (pro and con),
questions that committee members ask and the tenor of committee reaction. Notice of a legislator is following party
line (or leadership) or acts independently.
Pick up copies of any material available, such as testimony, reports, etc.
- There may be sign-up sheets for persons who want to speak on a bill at the committee meeting. If you intend to speak,
make certain that you put your name on the list.
- Wait your turn to be recognized. The chair controls the agenda regarding recognition of persons wanting to speak for or
against a bill. Due to time constraints, outside testimony may be limited.
- Begin your testimony be addressing the chair and the members of the committee. Give your name, where you are from or
whom you represent and why you are speaking. For example, "Mister or Madam Chair and members of the committee,
my name is _____ from ____. I am in favor of this bill because ____."
- Be courteous in your language.
- Be brief. Try not to repeat what others have already said.
- Try to be relaxed. Legislators are there to hear what you have to say.
- If a member of the committee asks you a question, make certain that you understand the question and respond to it as
best you can. If you cannot answer the question, say so and tell the member you will try to get an answer later.
Know procedures. In legislative committees, the most frequent motions on bills are "report progress" and "do pass."
A "report progress" motion indicates that the committee has decided against the bill and retains control of it.
A "do pass" motion means that the bill moves out of the committee and is passed on to the floor.
Do not be disruptive. Avoid clapping, cheering, or booing and other disruptive forms of behavior.