Tips on Testifying Before a Legislative Committee

Tips on Testifying Before a Legislative Committee


PUBLIC BETTER UNDERSTAND THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS OF ADDRESSING LEGISLATIVE CHAI COMMITTEES.>>THE COMMITTEE PROCESS IS A PRIMARY STEP IN DEVELOPING AND PASSING LEGISLATION AT THE STATE CAPITOL. THOSE WHO TESTIFY DURING A COMMITTEE MEETING CAN PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN DETERMINING THE OUTCOME OF THAT LEGISLATION. OFTEN THOSE WHO TESTIFY ARE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OR LOBBYISTS. BUT THE VOICE OF THE PUBLIC IS ALSO A KEY ELEMENT IN THE COMMITTEE PROCESS.>>I THINK PUBLIC TESTIMONY IS REALLY IMPORTANT FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS. LEGISLATORS SIMPLY CANNOT BE EXPERTS ON ALL TOPICS. WE USUALLY HAVE 3,000 BILLS THAT GET INTRODUCED IN A LEGISLATIVE SESSION. ON A LOT OF DIFFERENT TOPICS. AND THEY MAY SERVE ON FOUR OR FIVE COMMITTEES, SO IT’S REALLY HARD FOR THEM TO BECOME EXPERTS IN EVERY SINGLE TOPIC. SO I DO THINK THAT PUBLIC TESTIMONY PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THEM TO HEAR A PERSPECTIVE THAT THEY MAY NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF.>>THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OF INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS BRINGS IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE TESTIMONY TO THE PROCESS. PROVIDING LAWMAKERS WITH ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW TO CONSIDER WHEN DEBATING LEGISLATION.>>WE KNOW EVERY BILL HAS AN IMPACT ON PEOPLE’S LIVES. WHAT WE WANT TO HEAR IS HOW DOES THAT PERSON TESTIFYING AND ADDRESSING THE SENATE FEEL ABOUT THAT BILL? HOW WOULD IT AFFECT THEIR LIVES? WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND IT? STORIES ARE REALLY POWERFUL AT MOVING LEGISLATORS AND HELPING TO FORM AN OPINION. AND THAT’S A GREAT WAY FOR US TO SEE A REAL-WORLD APPLICATION OF SOME OF THE THINGS OF THE ISSUES WE’RE ADDRESSING.>>IT IS THOSE HUMAN STORIES MORE THAN ANYTHING THAT ABSOLUTELY TOUCHES LEGISLATORS. WHEN SOMEBODY COMES IN AND REALLY CONNECTS, REALLY CONNECTS WITH US, AND TELLS US HOW SOMETHING HAS AFFECTED THEIR LIVES AND THEIR FAMILIES AND THEIR COMMUNITIES, IT ABSOLUTELY MAKES A DIFFERENCE.>>PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IS ONE WAY TO HAVE AN IMPACT AT THE CAPITOL. BEING WELL ORGANIZED AND KEEPING STATEMENTS BRIEF ARE OTHERS. ON ANY GIVEN DAY, LEGISLATORS SIT THROUGH NUMEROUS COMMITTEES, WADE THROUGH PAGES OF DATA, AND LISTEN TO HOURS OF TESTIMONY. USING TIME WISELY IS KEY TO COMMITTEE TESTIMONY.>>THERE ARE TWO ITEMS IN THE DIRECT CARE AND TREATMENT SERVICES AREA THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SPECIFICALLY MENTION. THE FIRST IS THE CHILD,>>I HAVE KIND OF THREE LITTLE QUICK RULES THAT I TRY TO FOLLOW. KEEP IT SIMPLE. KEEP IT SHORT. KEEP IT FOCUSED. LEGISLATORS, YOU HAVE TO RESPECT THEIR TIME. THERE’S USUALLY A DOZEN OR TWO DOZEN PEOPLE WAITING IN LINE TO TESTIFY ON GIVEN BILLS. SO YOUR TESTIMONY REALLY NEEDS TO BE AT A PRETTY FAST CLIP PACE. I TRY TO KEEP TESTIMONY USUALLY AT TWO TO THREE MINUTES. I TRY TO GET TO THE IMPORTANT THINGS RIGHT UP FRONT. I USUALLY TRY TO FOCUS ON JUST TWO TO THREE POINTS, BECAUSE IF IF GETS MUCH MORE THAN THAT, THEN YOU’RE DID I DILUTING WHAT MESSAGE YOU’RE TRYING TO CONVEY.>>KEEP THE PRESENTATION AROUND TWO TO THREE MINUTES, IF YOU CAN. THAT LEAVES A LITTLE TIME FOR SENATORS FOR TO ASK QUESTIONS IF THERE ARE QUESTIONS. MAKE SURE THAT YOU’RE PREPARED, DON’T YUST COME UP AND WING IT. SO TO SPEAK.>>CREDITED YIBILITYD IS THE CURRENCY IN WHICH LEGISLATORS AND PROFESSIONAL AND CITIZEN LOBBYISTS DEAL. TRUTHFUL INFORMATION IS ANY TESTIFIER’S BEST FRIEND. IT IS THE FOUNDATION FOR THE LAWS THAT ARE PASSED AT THE CAPITOL.>>BEING FORTHRIGHT, CREDIBLE, AND RESPECTFUL ARE THE CORNER STONES OF GREAT TESTIMONY. WE BASE OUR DECISIONS ON THE INFORMATION THAT IS BEING PRESENTED IN THESE — IN THESE HEARINGS. SO TO BE CREDIBLE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.>>THE WHOLE TESTIMONY PROCESS REALLY, YOU’RE NOT SWORN IN, IT’S NOT A COURT OF LAW. BUT IT IS BASED ON A TRUST SYSTEM THAT YOU ARE TELLING THE TRUTH WHEN YOU TESTIFY. IT’S IMPORTANT FOR A LOBBYIST NEVER TO BLUFF, NEVER TO PROVIDE FALSE INFORMATION. THEY DON’T WANT TO EXAGGERATE OR EXTEND THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT MAY HAVE HAPPENED TO THEM. JUST BE SPECIFIC, AND IF THERE IS A QUESTION THAT THEY CAN’T ANSWER, THEY CAN OFFER TO GET BACK TO A LEGISLATOR AS WELL.>>PARTICIPATION IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS TAKES MANY FORMS. MEETING AND CORRESPONDING WITH LAWMAKERS ARE COMMON METHODS. COMMITTEE TESTIMONY IS ANOTHER. ONE WHERE LAWMAKERS WELCOME AND ENCOURAGE PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.>>I THINK WE ALL HAVE THAT IMAGE FROM CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY WHERE SOMEONE STANDS UP AND HOLDS UP THEIR RIGHT HAND AND THERE ARE ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHERS SITTING IN FRONT OF THEM. IT IS NOTHING LIKE THAT IN THE MINNESOTA LEGISLATURE. YOU KNOW, YOU’LL HAVE A COUPLE OF PEOPLE SITTING AT THE TESTIFIERS’ TABLE, AND YOU’LL HAVE A LINE OF SENATORS OR REPRESENTATIVES THERE TO JUST SORT OF LISTEN, AND THEN THERE’LL BE MAYBE A LITTLE DIALOGUE AFTER THE FACT. BUT THE WHOLE POINT IS TO WELCOME PEOPLE INTO THIS PROCESS.>>I’M A MOTHER OF THREE AND A HOUSE WIFE,>>LEGISLATORS ARE VERY RESPECTFUL FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE TESTIFYING FOR THE FIRST TIME. IT IS A — THINK OF IT AS JUST COMMUNICATING WITH TEN PEOPLE. TRY TO BLOCK OUT ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE IN THE ROOM. YOU TRULY ARE THE EXPERT AT YOUR STORY. NOBODY ELSE KNOWS THE DETAILS OR WHAT PERSPECTIVE YOU BRING. YOU’RE SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS. THESE AREN’T THINGS LIKE A TEST WHERE THERE’S A RIGHT OR WRONG. THIS IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE.>>WE APPRECIATE YOU MAKING THE EFFORT TO BE HERE WITH US.>>THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.>>I DID NOT THINK I WOULD BE HERE, SITTING,>>GIVING TESTIMONY DOES NOT GUARANTEE PASSAGE OR FAILURE OF LEGISLATION. BUT IT COULD INFLUENCE ONE OR MORE COMMITTEE MEMBERS, AND THAT MAY BE ENOUGH TO DETERMINE THE OUTCOME.>>I THINK, AND THIS IS SOMETHING THAT ANY OF US WHO ARE TRYING TO BE PERSUASIVE IN ANY FACET OF OUR LIFE, WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO DO IS GET A MESSAGE ACROSS, AND PERSUADE SOMEBODY TO SEAT IT OUR WAY. AND I THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THAT IS TO BE REALLY CLEAR ON WHAT YOU THINK IS THE MOST PERSUASIVE POINT YOU CAN MAKE AND HOW YOU CAN MAKE IT. AND KEEP IT SIMPLE. TRY TO IDENTIFY WHAT THE PROBLEM IS AND WHAT IT IS YOU WOULD LIKE LEGISLATORS TO DO ABOUT IT. IT’S NOT JUST GOOD ENOUGH TO GET UP THERE AND SAY, THIS IS A PROBLEM. THIS IS A PROBLEM. THIS IS A PROBLEM. HOW DO YOU WANT LEGISLATORS TO HELP SOLVE THAT PROBLEM?>>IF YOU’RE PREPARED, IF YOU HIT A FEW KEY POINTS, AND IF YOU’RE — AND IF YOU CAN MAKE IT PERSONAL, YOU’VE GOT AN EFFECTIVE PRESENTATION. WE DON’T HAVE YOUR PERSPECTIVE. AND THAT’S WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR FROM YOU. WE WANT YOU TO SHARE WITH US HOW LAWS, BILLS, AFFECT YOUR LIVES.

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