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Newbie info for attending a hearing at the State House

Discussion in 'G.O.A.L. Massachusetts' started by GOAL C.M., Jan 26, 2010.

  1. GOAL C.M.

    GOAL C.M. Guest

    Public Hearings at the State House – What to Expect

    There have been several inquiries to the GOAL office as to what people should know and expect at the public hearings at the Massachusetts State House. Here are some things our members should know and keep in mind.

    · Possession of firearms, knives, pepper spray, etc. is prohibited in the State House. There is no storage for such items so plan accordingly.

    · When attending a hearing there is generally a signup sheet for those who wish to provide testimony. The sheet will usually ask you to list the bill you are there for, such as H.2259 and if you are for or against the bill. It will also ask if you would like to testify orally or just submit written testimony, your name, address and any group you represent.

    · You can sign up to testify on more than one piece of legislation. Occasionally some committee chairs will allow you to testify on a few bills at the same time.

    · Bills are usually heard in numerical order unless there is a specific bill that might take up a disproportionate amount of the hearing. In that case the committee chair may opt to take certain bills out of turn.

    · It is the option of the chair as to what order of testimony is heard, as in favor of a bill first or opposition first. Some chairs actually like to mix them to keep information flowing.

    · Legislators, government officials, panels and special invited guests are normally taken to testify before the general public.

    · Testimony provided by members of the general public is normally limited to 2 to 3 minutes. Committee chairs will ask that you not read your testimony. If you have written testimony, please just hand it in to the committee staff. If you would like to provide oral testimony they ask that you just hit on a few points and try not to repeat what has already been covered. It is always best to have a short personal story about how the laws affect you. It is also OK to simply state you are in support or opposition of a bill. In any case it is best to be brief, to the point and polite. Aggressive “in your face” testimony is never well received and always reflects badly on all of us.

    · Cheering or jeering others while they testify is frowned upon.

    · While most committees have 17 members (6 senators/11 house), it is rare that all of them will be in attendance due to conflicts in schedules.

    · Hearings can last from just a few minutes to several hours. Typically they do not allow food or water in the hearing room.

    We look forward to seeing all of you in support at our upcoming hearings


    The GOAL Staff

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