Tips for testifying in Legislative Committees

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New Hampshire state law mandates that legislative committees hold a hearing for every bill that is introduced. These hearings give the public the opportunity to comment on specific bills. Committees accept written testimony in the form of an email or letter, as well as in person.

There are a few things to keep in mind when testifying in front of a committee. Keeping it brief and relevant, being on time, and being respectful of others in the room are important considerations.

Where to find public hearing dates

Hearings are posted in the House and Senate calendars and in the individual bill’s docket. Both calendars are released on Thursday mornings and lay out the meetings for the following week.

Additionally, Reaching Higher NH posts information about education-related bills in our Education Bills Tracker. Sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to stay up-to-date on any updates or changes to hearings, executive sessions, or floor votes.

Tips for Testifying

  • Get there early. All members of the public will have a chance to speak. You can leave after you testify if you would like (though you’re welcome to stay!).
  • Sign in. There is a sign-in sheet in the front of the room. Be sure to sign in, otherwise, you may not have the chance to speak.
  • You have 3 minutes to speak. Keep your comments concise.  Prepare written comments to stay on track if it helps. Committee members often let people speak more than the allotted time, but if there is a long list, they may cut you off.
  • You may be asked clarifying questions. Committee members may ask clarifying questions of you. However, they will not debate you.
  • You don’t HAVE to speak. You can submit written testimony in person or via email. Check the individual committee websites, found here for Senate and here for House. You can CC the entire committee, or email the Chair, who will disseminate the testimony to the rest of the committee.
  • If you’re submitting written testimony, make it your own. Generic or form letters are fine, but they’ll be more impactful if you include your own personal experiences. Members care about you and your thoughts–keep it genuine and honest.
  • Don’t get caught up in politics. Don’t question the motives of committee members. Disagreement with positions and policies is welcomed, and you SHOULD speak up. But questioning their motives, politics, or character undermines your argument.
  • Keep it civil. No swearing. Address Committee members properly (Mr. or Madame Chair, Representative, Senator, etc). Your comments will become part of the public record.
  • And most of all, don’t be intimidated! Representatives and Senators are parents, teachers, grandparents, and community members just like the rest of us. If you have something to say, don’t hesitate to speak up. They value your opinion and experiences.

Have more questions? Email us at staff@reachinghighernh.org.