How to Make Your Views Known at the Texas Capitol
First, Identify Your Senator and Representative on the state legislative website >
Ways to Contact:
- In-person Visit: Be sure to meet your Representative or Senator in their district or Capitol office
- Invite them to a Group Meeting: Ask you legislator to attend a group meeting in your community
- Call the Office: Calls are more effective than emails. Be sure to provide your home address.
- Testify at a Committee Hearing: Registering support or opposition at hearing
- Attend a Town Hall Meeting: Show up, speak, ask questions.
How to Testify at a Legislative Committee
Before the Hearing
- Know When to Testify: Track bills, committee hearings, issues areas by signing up for alerts at www.capitol.state.tx.us.
- Make Sure You Can Testify: Many committee hearings allow public testimony, but some only allow invited witnesses. Check the committee hearing notice.
- Practice Your Speech: Prepare 2-3 minutes of comments; read it out loud several times, timing yourself. The committee notice will let you know how long you have to testify.
Getting to the Capitol
- Plan: Plan on arriving early to find the committee room. Parking, security and getting to the room can take more time than you expect.
- Park: There is significant construction underway northeast and west of the Capitol. Some streets are currently closed to parking. Parking is especially hard to find and often several blocks away from the Capitol. Please plan your time accordingly and expect to walk distances.
- Entering/Security: There are entrances at all sides of the Capitol. You will go through security, and the lines can be long.
- Find the Committee Room: The Capitol and the Capitol Extension can be a bit confusing. Many committee rooms are in the underground Capitol Extension. The State Preservation Board provides various maps of the Capitol that you may find helpful.
- Register to Testify/Stating a Position Without Testifying: The House of Representatives and the Senate register witnesses differently. The House requires registration at Kiosks, while some Senate committees require witnesses to fill out witness cards at committee hearings. Both allow you to register whether you want to testify for or against the bill, or simply note your position for or against the bill. If you don't want to testify in a Senate committee, but want your position known, you can do so by registering solely at Kiosk.
- Arrive Early/Expect to Stay Late: Some committee meetings are not long, while others may run late into the night. Note that the committees will often break and reconvene later in the day.
- Be Nice: Your testimony can be passionate, but always be respectful.
- Be Truthful: If you don’t have an answer to a question, stating “I don’t have that information, but I’ll try get it to you” is respectful and acceptable.
- Be Concise: You’ll likely have only 2-3 minutes to speak. If you have additional testimony to provide, submit written testimony in addition to your oral testimony. Be respectful of the legislators and others waiting to testify.
- Be Personal: Say how the legislation will affect you, your family or friends.
- Bring copies: If providing written testimony or background material, check committee postings to see how many copies you need to bring to the committee.
- Be Unique: Try not to repeat what other witnesses have said.
- Follow-up: Email committee members to thank them and provide any additional information.