The following tips can help you organize your advocacy message and contact your legislator in person, in writing, or by phone.
A personal visit is the most effective means of communicating with a legislator as it gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with them.
Here are some tips on providing testimony about legislation and other public policy issues.
Public testimony is an effective way to help policymakers understand how an issue affects people, presents difficulties, or addresses needs. Public testimony also lets you show support or opposition to specific bills under consideration by legislators.
Public speaking can be scary, especially for people who don’t have much experience. But with some preparation, giving public testimony can be simple.
Most committees will limit the time for witnesses (that’s you), so expect to have three minutes. Decide what you want to say in advance, and then practice, practice, practice!
Practicing what you’re going to say in front of a mirror can help you get comfortable with your testimony and decide on the words you want to use. To help get used to speaking to a large you, you could practice in front of your friends or family. This will also give you a chance to get feedback on how to improve your message.
Preparing two versions of your testimony is a good idea. One version should summarize your message in three minutes. You can also write a longer version to give to legislators after sharing your summary. If you take written testimony with you, call the committee office to find out how many copies you will need. If you do not have time to type up your testimony or make copies, you should still testify.
Not sure where to start? Use the My Testimony Blueprint (PDF) to begin writing your testimony.
When you get to a hearing, there should be a sign-up sheet for you to indicate you want to give testimony. Speakers are taken in the order they sign in, but legislators, state agency representatives, and invited speakers are usually allowed to testify first.
If you do not wish to speak, you can fill out a testimony card to state your position on an issue. You can also submit your testimony in writing instead of speaking.
Use the following image and links to view and download an infographic that explains the Texas legislative process.
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