Many people do not realize that legislative hearings are open to the public. In addition to simply observing, individuals may submit testimony to the committee - in writing and/or in person. Written testimony should be submitted prior to the hearing (plan to arrive at least 1-1 ½ hours before the hearing is scheduled to begin). Most committees have guidelines about how many copies should be submitted and when testimony is due. Go to the Maryland General Assembly’s home page http://mlis.state.md.us for instructions about submitting testimony to the major health committees (usually between 20-35 copies are required).
The content and format for written testimony is similar to that for a letter (see Writing a Letter), except that testimony may be slightly longer - but usually no more than two pages plus attachments. Testimony should be addressed to the chair of the committee. Names and addresses of the chairs of the major health committees are provided on the General Assembly’s home page.
Testifying in person before a legislative committee provides a unique perspective on this important step of the legislative process, allowing participants to observe firsthand how legislators may be influenced to vote on the issue.
An example of How to Address Written Testimony:
The Honorable (First and Last Name of Committee Chair)
(Name of Committee)
Re: (Support for / Opposition to) (Bill # and Bill Title)
(Mr. / Madam) (Chairman / Chairwoman) and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for this opportunity to testify in (support of/opposition to) (Bill #).