Oral and Written Testimony

When testifying in support of or opposition to a proposed bill, testimony can be given orally or written. Typically, witnesses who give oral testimony will also turn in a one-page written testimony to accompany it though it is not required. Oral testimony is given to the whole committee during a bill hearing. Written testimony does not require speaking, but is included in the bill file. Written and oral testimony are given as a support or opposition statement during a bill’s assigned hearing.

Testimony Guidelines

  • Introduce yourself briefly in the introduction of your testimony
  • If you are representing any agency or organization you should also write your testimony on letterhead of your organization, but only if you have that group’s approval to do so. Otherwise write your testimony on plain paper, but feel free to include your credentials.
  • Indicate if you are in support of or opposition to a bill by writing Support or Oppose at the top of written testimony along with the bill number in bold (ex. – HB13 Support)
  • Include how the bill, if implemented into law, would have an affect on you, your life and the lives of your loved ones, or your organization/business.
  • End your testimony like a letter or email with your name (optional).

Note: Written testimony must be turned in prior to the hearing.  Each committee has its own deadlines and requirements.  Find out how many copies are required for the committee that is hearing the bill. If fewer than the required copies are provided, or if the testimony comes in late, it will not be accepted.

Testimony Tips

  • Tell your story and be as personal as you are comfortable.
  • Focus on what you’re an expert in. Identify your area of expertise – do you identify as an LGBTQ community member, a parent, a teacher, a practitioner? Share your perspective and expertise.
  • Focus on communicating shared values to build support with legislators (e.g. respect, dignity, affirmation, etc.).

General Suggestions

  • If you are providing written testimony, make sure it is submitted the day before a bill’s hearing to ensure it is accepted and included in a bill’s file.
  • If you are providing oral testimony, you must sign up outside of the hearing room prior to the committee hearing.  The deadline to sign up can vary by committee.  Please check for the committee’s sign-up deadline in advance of the hearing.
  • Arrive at the hearing location with enough time to park, go through building security, and get settled in the hearing room.

Taking the steps to testify is not always easy, but your individual perspective and experiences are powerful as legislators weigh the impact of a bill.

For a sample written testimony, visit here.