Testifying at a committee hearing is an opportunity to have a wider audience for your message, including the legislators on that committee, their aides, and anyone else who is attending that committee hearing. It also provides a valuable opportunity to state your case at a time when legislators are making the critical decision about whether to pass, kill or amend a piece of legislation.
Testimony by a person who has experienced sexual and/or domestic violence or an advocate who works with people who have experienced sexual and/or domestic violence is extremely effective and adds enormous value to the information provided by VSDVAA staff. Testimony by victims and advocates actually puts a “face” to the legislation they are considering and can have a tremendous impact on the decisions legislators make.
The following guidelines will help you develop your testimony:
- Testimony does not need to be long. It should be a maximum of 3 minutes, but can be much shorter than that.
- Before you start writing your testimony or outline, figure out what key point(s) you want to make (no more than 3).
- Start your testimony by saying who you are, the agency you represent (if testifying on behalf of the agency), and where you are from. Mention your entire service area.
- Say why you are there – the bill number, what the bill is about, and whether you are concerned about it or support it.
- Tell them why you are taking that position. This is where you talk about your key points. Include real-life stories from your work (protecting confidentiality, of course!), statistics from your service area, and how this legislation would impact victims and/or the services you are able to provide.
- State what you want them to do (Please oppose SB # xxxxx).
- Thank them for their time
We know that testifying can be scary (or downright terrifying!), and want to offer as much support as we can. Alliance staff is happy to give you ideas on how to prepare your testimony and help review your testimony with you in advance. We will also attend any committee hearing where you testify to provide support, and most likely we will be testifying as well. Legislators are very impressed when citizens come to Richmond to testify, and are generally very respectful and polite to visitors who come to share their views.
If you are still uncomfortable testifying, but feel strongly about an issue, attending a committee hearing as part of the audience is also a great way to show your support of a bill.