- Show up to committee hearings that have RPT Legislative Priorities bills on the meeting agenda. It’s important to have people there letting folks know that we care, and who are responding to the other side’s arguments.
- If there is a group of you there for the hearing, designate a couple of spokespeople. Others can file a witness card registering a position only, so their support will be recorded in committee report. (Legislators get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again.)
- Written testimony is a really good idea. Legislators serve on multiple committees, and the written testimony is distributed to every member — even ones who are not physically present. Bring enough copies for the committee clerk and each member of the committee. (Sometimes the meeting posting tells you how many copies to bring).
- It is probably worthwhile to reach out to each committee member in advance of the hearing and let them know that you would appreciate their support for the bill.
- Constituents should call or write or otherwise reach out to their own legislators and let them know that we support the priorities, especially if theirs is a Republican legislator who is known to be on the fence or opposing a priority.
- Contact from constituents – especially precinct chairs or county chairs in a legislator’s district — will carry a lot more weight.
- BE POLITE TO STAFF AND THE LEGISLATOR. Creating a scene at the Capitol does more harm than good. If a legislator or staff tells you they are not with us on an issue, the correct response is something like this: “Thank you for your time Rep. X and for hearing us out. Hopefully we can enjoy your support on some other issues we’ll work on in the future.” or something to that effect. When people create a scene at the Capitol or are rude to staff, word spreads quickly.
- Never threaten a member or staff, physically or politically.
- Being polite doesn’t mean agreeing with a legislator or accepting bad behavior. There are plenty of ways to address that outside the Legislative process.
- “Legislative vehicles” (related bills to which other bills can be attached as a germane amendment) can sometimes be a way to get stuff around an unfavorable committee or chair.
- Fair warning: Some committee hearings can be long, especially late in the session. Be prepared to be there for many hours waiting to testify, if necessary.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee. I’m John Doe representing the X County Republican Party, testifying in support of HB 1234. We support designating March 3 of each year Mom and Apple Pie Day. We believe kids should show more respect for motherhood, and they should eat more natural food containing fruit products. Creating a day where those two things are celebrated will draw more attention to these things and encourage kids to do them. Thank you for the opportunity to testify, I am happy to answer any questions.
Key points here:
- You have to state your name for the record before you start testifying.
- Be prepared to field questions, especially in the House.
- State the problem the bill is intending to solve and why it does so.
- Be concise and to the point.
- Three minutes is a common time limit (excluding questions).
Sample Written Testimony:
PLEASE SUPPORT HB 1234
HB 1234 will designate March 3 as Mom and Apple Pie Day. Here are some key reasons why this is a good bill:
- Apples are good for you.
- Kids should eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Getting kids used to eating fruit will help Texas Agriculture.
- The Bible says “Honor thy Father and thy Mother.”
- Designating a day for Mom and Apple Pie will draw more attention to these important Texas values.
- Every human being has a Mom. Acknowledging that biological fact isn’t discriminatory toward anyone.
- Here are some of the groups supporting this bill:
Republican Party of Texas (Platform Plank #___)
Texans for Good Things
Texans Who Like Agriculture
Texas Pie Eaters Association
Tips Provided by Will Lutz