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How to Testify
at the Oregon State Legislature


  

 

In order to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, entry to the Oregon State Capitol is for authorized personnel only until further notice. The Oregon Legislative Assembly has established a process to accept remote verbal public testimony on bills by video or phone during this time, in addition to written public testimony.​​


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.
  

You can submit written testimony in the following two ways: ​

You can submit written testimony up to 24 hours after the scheduled start time of the committee meeting at which a bill is listed on the agenda for a public hearing. 
All committee meetings, as well as House and Senate floor sessions, will continue to be live streamed on OLIS​. A public access station will be set up outside of the State Capitol building if you do not have access to the internet. Closed captioning is available for all meetings when viewing online. 
If you are only interested in watching a committee meeting, or submitting written testimony on a bill, there is no need to follow the testimony registration process. 
  

Bill is Scheduled for a Public Meeting

There are several ways to know when a bill is scheduled for a public hearing:
  • You can search for a bill by bill number, bill text, or bill sponsor on the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS), and look at the bill’s measure history.
  • When a bill has been referred to a specific committee, you can: 1) search for that committee or subcommittee on the OLIS website, and look at whether that committee has scheduled the bill for a public hearing, or 2) subscribe to receive committee or subcommittee meeting agendas via email using the e-subscribe link on the committee webpage.
  • If you do not have internet access and are near the Capitol, you can view committee or subcommittee agendas on a screen that is visible through the center State Street Capitol doors.​

Once a bill is scheduled for a public hearing, you can register to speak at the hearing. It is not possible to register to testify before the bill is formally scheduled. ​

 

How to Register to Testify Remotely

You must register in advance to provide verbal testimony during a committee or subcommittee meeting. Registration closes at the start of the meeting. 

There are three ways to register:
  • Look up the committee or subcommittee meeting agenda on the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) website and follow the testimony registration link on the agenda. The system will send you an email with a registration meeting link and instructions for delivering your verbal/video testimony using the Microsoft Teams platform.
  • Look up the committee or subcommittee meeting agenda on the OLIS website and call the listed toll-free number. The phone system will provide you with a phone number and access code to call into the meeting and deliver your verbal/audio testimony.
  • On the day of the hearing, come to the public access station outside of the State Capitol building to deliver your testimony into a publicly provided laptop. Please note that this option is intended for those who do not have internet access or an available phone.​

Before the Public Hearing

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. You will “wait” in a virtual lobby until staff admits all participants into the meeting, shortly before the public hearing begins. 
  
If you are joining the meeting with an MS Teams link, please: ​

  • Join the meeting with your camera off and microphone mute​d and stay in that mode until you are called on by the Chair to speak.
  • If time permits, committee staff may be able to quickly test your video and audio.
  • 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 calling into the meeting, 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


  • 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.
  • Follow any instructions from the Chair for your testimony. This may include a time limit; in some cases, the Chair will use a chime to indicate when you need to finish.
  • If you do not respond when called on to speak, or you encounter technical difficulties, you may not be able to testify. If this happens, you may submit your testimony in a written format up to 24 hours after the scheduled start time of the committee meeting at which you planned to testify.
  • When your testimony is finished, the Chair may ask that you stay in the meeting to answer questions from committee members.
  • 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. Or you may remain in the meeting to continue listening and watching with your camera and microphone off. If the meeting is at capacity, you may be removed from the meeting upon the conclusion of your testimony to allow others to join.
  • People testifying remotely are subject to the same rules of decorum as an in-person meeting at the Capitol. Anyone who chooses not to follow the rules for remote 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.​

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

  • Be sure of the meeting time.
  • Agendas are posted online. 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 using the public access station at the Capitol to testify, register with the Public Access Station, 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.

 

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.
  ​

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