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How to Testify in Committee Hearings


For questions about the legislature, legislative process, or other government agencies, please email help.leg@oregonlegislature.gov, or call 1-800-332-2313.

​How to Register to Testify​

​​How to Testify - Spanish Version (Cómo Testificar)​​


You must register in advance to provide testimony either in person or remotely during a committee or subcommittee meeting. Registration closes 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of the meeting.

There are two ways to register:

  • Use the online Testimony Registration System. Look up the committee or subcommittee meeting agenda or a specific measure on the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) website and click on the “Register to Testify" button next to the bill on the agenda or at the top of the measure overview page. Follow the instructions and fill out the registration form. A confirmation screen will appear. The system will send you an email. The email sent to those registering to testify remotely will include a meeting link and phone number and instructions for delivering your testimony using the Microsoft Teams platform or phone. Be sur​e to check your spam folder if you do not see a registration confirmation email in your inbox.

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Figure 1 - Register to Testify from the Measure Overview page

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​Figure 2 - Register to Testify from the Committee Meeting page

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Figure 3 - Public Testimony Registration Form

  • ​Call 1-833-588-4500 to register. You will be given a phone number and access code to call into the meeting and deliver your verbal/audio testimony.
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​​Before the Public Hearing

IF YOU REGISTER TO TESTIFY IN PERSON, plan to arrive at the State Capitol in time to find parking and enter the building through a security checkpoint. The State Capitol Is under construction, and parking nearby may be limited. All committee hearings are taking place on the first floor of the State Capitol. Enter through the doors at the center of the building on State Street. There is no entry to the building on Court Street. A help desk is located just inside the building; stop there with any questions or to ask for assistance to register to testify or to submit written testimony.

​IF YOU REGISTER TO TESTIFY REMOTELY, use the MS Teams meeting link or phone number to join the committee or subcommittee meeting at least 5 minutes prior to the meeting start time.

If you are joining the meeting using an MS Teams link, please:

  • Join the meeting with your camera off and microphone muted and stay in that mode until you are called on by the Chair to speak.
  • If you are not familiar with MS Teams, spend a few minutes reviewing the user interface ahead of time. This link may be helpful: Join a meeting in Teams.

If you are joining the meeting by phone, please:

  • Join the meeting with your microphone on mute until you are called on by the Chair to speak. At that time, press *6 to unmute.
  • Be aware that when you call in, your phone number will be displayed on the live stream of the committee or subcommittee meeting.

​During the Public Hearing

​Follow any instructions from the Chair for your testimony. This may include a time limit; in some cases, a timer may be used to indicate when you need to finish. Please respect any announced time limits as they are set to allow everyone an opportunity to speak.

If you are not available when it is your turn to speak, or you are testifying remotely and have technical difficulties, you may submit your testimony in a written format up to 48 hours after the scheduled start time of the committee meeting at which you planned to testify.

If you are testifying remotely on MS Teams or by phone:

    • During the hearing your camera and microphone should be off/muted until you are called upon to testify.
    • If you are watching the meeting live stream on the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) website , close the live stream when public testimony begins and listen to the meeting on MS Teams or your phone instead (live streams have a time delay, and you may miss your name being called).
    • When the Chair calls on you to speak, turn on your camera (optional) and microphone (*6 on your phone to unmute) and provide your testimony.
    • ​​When you are done with your testimony, turn off your camera and mute your microphone/phone. You may leave the meeting and continue to watch the meeting on the OLIS live stream.

​The Chair may ask that you remain at the witness table or stay in the MS Teams meeting when your testimony is done to answer questions from committee members.

Everyone is subject to the same rules of decorum – whether testifying remotely or in person. Anyone who chooses not to follow the rules for testimony established by the committee Chair may forfeit their opportunity to testify. At the direction of the Chair, you may be removed from the meeting if you continue to disregard the Chair's instructions.​

​​​Language Access Services
These language services may be requested for a public hearing:

  • Interpretation or translation of Spanish or other spoken languages
  • American Sign Language
To request Language Access Services (interpreter/translation): Citizen Engagement language-access
Please submit a request for language services a minimum of 3 business days prior to the start of a public hearing.​

  

Spe​cial Needs
 

  • If you require special accommodation to testify before a committee, contact committee staff 24 hours before the meeting.​
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How to Join the Meeting Using Microsoft Teams

 





How to Testify to a Committee

 

Giving public testimony before a legislative committee can be an exciting and fulfilling experience.

 

For reference assistance, questions about the legislature, legislative process, or other government agencies, please email help.leg@oregonlegislature.gov, or call 1-800-332-2313.

 

Committees, as the heart of Oregon’s legislative process, allow legislators to study bills closely and hear testimony during public hearings in support of or in opposition to the bills.

Public testimony before a committee may influence the committee’s action. Your testimony also becomes part of the public record and may be used in future research.

You can better prepare and succeed in giving testimony by following the suggestions below.

Know Your Audience

  • Committee members are “citizen legislators,” and they want to hear your comments.
  • Be respectful of committee members as well as other people who come to testify.
  • Do not scold or insult members or other witnesses, or accuse members of causing your issue. This may alienate members from your cause.

Know the Issue

  • Draw from your own knowledge and experience.
  • Support personal opinions with as many facts as possible.
  • Be knowledgeable of the "other side of the story." You may be asked to discuss how and why your opinion differs from others.

Be Familiar with the Committee Process

  • Know the location of the building and meeting room, and be sure of the meeting time.
  • Agendas are posted outside the meeting room. Check the agenda to make sure the bill you are interested in has not been removed or rescheduled. Bills are not always heard in the order in which they appear on the agenda.
  • If possible, attend a committee meeting before you testify to learn about the process. You can also watch videos of past meetings on OLIS.
  • When you arrive at the public hearing, print your name legibly on the witness registration sheet for the appropriate bill. Witnesses may be called out of order. Do not sign up if you only wish to watch the meeting.
  • Visit the legislative website (OLIS) at oregonlegislature.gov to learn more about committees.

Presenting Your Written Testimony

  • Email your written testimony and any materials (reports, handouts, presentations) at least 24 hours in advance so it can be posted electronically to OLIS for the members and public to view. However, written testimony is not required.
  • If you did not submit materials in advance, give your paper copies to committee staff—not directly to the members—after you are called and before you begin speaking.
  • Address members formally (e.g., Senator Jones, Representative Brown). Respond to questions through the chair (e.g., ‘Chair Jones and members of the committee…’).
  • State your name, city or county, and any other affiliation for the record, even if you’ve already been introduced or called upon by name.
  • Clearly state whether you support or oppose the bill and briefly explain your reason.
  • If you submitted written testimony, do not read it word-for-word to members. Make an outline and summarize the main points of the testimony.
  • Keep in mind that many people testifying or a busy agenda may require you to summarize your testimony in two minutes.
  • When finished, thank the members and offer to answer any questions.
  • Members realize that the process may be intimidating; they do not expect perfect presentations.
  • Testifying as a group: Select a few people to cover different topics so the testimony is not repetitive. Address the problem, possible solutions, and your group’s solution. Check with committee staff to determine how much time will be allotted for testimony on the bill.
  • Verbal testimony and written materials are public records available to the public on the Internet. Use discretion on what personal information to include.

Special Needs

  • If you require special accommodation to testify before a committee, contact committee staff 24 hours before the meeting. Contact staff 72 hours in advance if a sign language interpreter is needed.

Making a Difference - A Citizen's Guide on How to Testify

 

"Making a Difference - A Citizen's Guide on How to Testify" covers protocols and procedures of testifying before a Legislative Committee and offers important online resources.

 

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