(This information is presented with the permission of the Maine Legislature)

Testifying at a Legislative Hearing

Your elected state legislators are interested in your views on legislation before they take a vote on an issue.  Speaking at a public hearing is an effective way to express your opinion, rather than just writing a letter.  The purpose of a public hearing is to receive testimony from members of the public.  This brochure explains how you can participate in the Legislature's public hearing process.

Information on Public Hearings

As a rule, notices of public hearings on legislation are printed in the Weekend Edition of the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Sunday Telegram and the Lewiston Sunday Sun, 1 to 2 weekends in advance of the hearing, and will contain the LD number, title of the bill, hearing room and time and day of the hearing.  You may also call the Legislative Information Office at 287-1692 or 1-800-301-3178 to find out hearing or work session times or the status of any bill.  It is a good idea to reference the Legislative Document number or "LD" number when you need information about a bill.  Information about bills can also be found on the Legislature's website www.janus.state.me.us/legis[NOTE:  Information about the status of the Maine Land Bank legislation will be available from a link on our website, www.mainelandbank.org.]

Preparing Testimony

Legislators are very interested in knowing the implications that proposed legislation may have, so it is important that your testimony be clear and concise.  Many people provide written testimony.  Written testimony also ensures that committee members who are not present have the opportunity to read what was said during the public hearing.  If you do provide written testimony, please bring at least 20 copies and present the copies to the Committee Clerk before you testify.  (Photocopying is available in the Law and Legislative Reference Library (Room 200 of the State House) for a nominal charge.)

When you Arrive

Most committee hearings are held in the State House (the Capitol) or on the second floor of the Cross Office Building.  The committee hearing times and locations are posted on the first floor of the State House and on the second floor of the Cross Office Building.  You can pick up copies of bills in the Document Room, first floor, Room 102 in the State House.  (Be sure to have an LD number.)

Public Hearing Procedures

Speaking Order:  At the beginning of each hearing the presiding committee chair will call the public hearing to order and announce the bill to be heard.  The legislator who sponsored the bill will formally introduce the bill, and after the sponsor has spoken, the presiding chair will ask if any other sponsors wish to testify.  Once all sponsors have had the opportunity to speak, the presiding chair will then invite members of the public to speak.  Generally, the speakers are divided into three categories:  Those favoring the bill, those against the bill, and those neither for nor against the bill.  Some committees ask members of the public to rise or raise their hand if they wish to testify before the committee.  Bills may be heard in a different order from that listed on the hearing notice.

Your turn at the podium:  When you are invited to testify, stand at the podium to speak.  You should begin by addressing both the Senate and House Chairs by name.  (For example, "Senator Stanley, Representative Lemoine and members of the committee.")  Introduce yourself and who you represent, indicate whether you support the bill, oppose it or are offering suggestions to improve it, and then explain your reasoning.  If other speakers have already made your point, let the committee know that you agree with the previous remarks of other speakers, but try to avoid repeating the testimony of previous speakers.  If you have lengthy written testimony, please summarize major points rather than reading the entire document.  When you finish, please remain at the podium for a moment, in case committee members want to ask you questions.

Comings and Goings:  Many hearings last throughout the day, and most Legislators are members of more than one committee.  Legislators may need to leave and re-enter the room if they are scheduled to be at another public hearing or work session in another committee.  However, they will receive any written information which is presented.

Decorum in Committee Proceedings:  The public hearing is an important part of the lawmaking process.  Please give your courteous attention to other speakers, regardless of their views.  Don't applaud or indicate pleasure or displeasure with anyone's remarks.  Only members of the committee may ask questions of persons who testify.

Work session:  Work Sessions on a bill are generally held on a day other than the day of the public hearing.  At the work session, committee members discuss the bill and decide whether to recommend its passage.  The public may speak at a work session only if a committee member requests further public input and the presiding committee chair grants permission.

If you would like to attend a work session, contact the committee clerk for the date and time.

Resources Available

Bills (LDs) and Amendments:  Single copies of bills and printed amendments are available upon request at no charge in the Legislative Document Room (Room 102, State House).

Legislative Internet Webpage:  Bills, calendars, schedules and other information are available on the Legislature's webpage at:  www.janus.state.me.us/legis.
Bill Status Information:  Legislative Information Office
Room 121, State House - 287-1692 / TTY# 287-6826

Committee Clerks:  Every committee has a Committee Clerk who provides administrative support to committees and ca answer specific questions regarding public hearings, work sessions and meeting times and places.  Clerks may be reached by calling the numbers listed in the public hearing notice or by calling the Legislative Information Office.

Laws and Rules:  Law and Legislative Reference Library
Room 200, State House, 287-1600

Parking:  Free parking is available in the parking garage on the corner of State Street and Sewall Street or where spaces are marked "General Parking."  Unauthorized cars will be towed if parked in handicapped parking spaces or any other restricted parking space.  One and two hour parking is available on the west side of Cross Office Building.

Phone Numbers:  To leave a message for a member of the House during session call 800-423-2900, and to leave a message for a member of the Senate during session call 800-423-6900.  Be prepared to leave a concise message.

Senate and House Calendars:  Calendars of legislative matters to be discussed are published each day the Legislature is in session and are available at no charge in the Legislative Document Room (Room 102, State House).

Special Services:  If you plan to attend a public hearing or work session and have any special needs, please call Legislative Information at 287-1692.  They will make every effort to accommodate your request.

Joint Standing Committee on Taxation
121st Legislature

Senator Stephen S. Stanley, Chair
Senator Ethan Strimling

Senator Richard A. Nass

Representative David G. Lemoine, Chair
Representative Joseph C. Perry
Representative Bernard E. McGowan
Representative Deborah L. Simpson
Representative Edward J. Suslovic
Representative Arthur L. Lerman
Representative Harold A. Clough
Representative Jonathan T. E. Courtney
Representative Earle L. McCormick

Representative Joshua A. Tardy

General policy areas of the Committee include:
Bureau of Revenue Services; taxes; tax exemptions and credits; Maine Residents Property Tax Program; property valuation and assessment; tax increment financing; municipal revenue sharing; unorganized territories and tree growth tax issues.

Hearing Room:

Room 127, State House

Committee Office:

Room 127, State House


(207) 287-1552

Committee Clerk:

Jo-Ellen Staples

Committee Analyst:

Julie S. Jones, Analyst
(207) 287-1635
Office of Fiscal and Program Review