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Testifying For/Against a Bill

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Maryland State Assembly


The information on these pages is provided for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as legal advice or counsel.


In Maryland, the General Assembly meets for 90 days to conduct its legislative business. The session begins within the first ten days of January and lasts until early April. During this time, the House and Senate consider thousands of proposed laws that have to do with everything from determining high school graduation requirements to traffic violations.

Before a bill can become a law in the State of Maryland, it must be heard before House and Senate Committees. During these Committee Hearings, the public is welcome to attend and provide oral testimony on why they think the bill should passed as-is, amended, or not passed at all. There are no age requirements on who may testify.

If you want to testify on behalf of a bill, you must follow certain rules.

  • Arrive at the Annapolis State House early to write your name on the Committee Hearing List. A small podium or desk will be outside the assigned Committee Hearing Room with the sign-up sheet. If your name does not appear on the list, you will not be allowed to tesify. The sign-up sheet is removed one hour before the hearing begins. Committee Hearings usually start at 1:00pm.
  • Be patient. All bills are assigned the same Committee Hearing start time. The Committee Chair will decide the order in which the bills will be heard. You may have to wait up to four hours before your bill is called.
  • Bring a typed, double-spaced copy of your oral testimony, printed in a large font so you can easily track what you want to say.
  • Practice reading your testimony before the day of the hearing. You will be sitting at a desk with a microphone mounted on the table top. Do not hold your papers up to help you read, as it will block the microphone.
  • Remember to speak clearly. Your testimony will be recorded.
  • If many people are waiting to testify on the same bill, you will be given no more than a maximum of three (3) minutes to speak.
  • Be prepared to answer questions that committee members may have for you.


The information on these pages is provided for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as legal advice or counsel.


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Tuesday
May 23, 2017

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