Public Testimony Overview
Idaho has an open legislative process. All committee action on Administrative Rules and legislation that has been assigned a bill number is conducted in open session. Once one of the above items has been introduced, it is assigned to a standing committee for study and consideration. The committee Chairman determines when it is scheduled for a hearing. Public testimony is permitted at most committee meetings.
Legislative committee meetings are generally informal, but it is important that you follow the guidelines and protocols below.
Before a committee meeting
Find out which committee(s) will be hearing your bill(s). This information is found on the Senate and House committee agendas published to the legislative website. Or by contacting Senate and House committee staff.
Be prepared. Plan your testimony, you will be more effective if you have prepared what you plan to say.
If the committee is having a meeting where they will allow remote testimony, then sign up on the public testimony registration tab of the committee web page ahead of time. The committee agenda will provide a link to the public testimony registration tab of the committee web page. There you will find a link to register to testify.
During a committee meeting
Be on time. Meeting agendas will list the physical location of the meeting within the capitol.
The Chairman will announce when a specific bill is coming up for discussion. The bill sponsor will be the first person to speak. Once that person is done the Chairman will open the floor to public testimony and will call on members of the public. Often times the Chairman will alternate between a proponent and an opponent of a bill.
All testimony and all committee discussion must be addressed through the Chairman.
Begin your testimony by addressing the Chairman and committee members. State your name, address, and why you are there. For example: “Mr. (or Madam) Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Pat Q. Public, I’m from Emmett. I am/am not in favor of this bill because…”
Be courteous and brief in your language and address. Try not to repeat testimony offered by previous testifiers. Be prepared to answer questions. Respond to questions as best you can. You need not be embarrassed if you do not have a specific answer.
Do not be nervous – there is no right or wrong way to testify. The Idaho legislature is made up of your friends, neighbors, and community members who have been elected to represent you. They want to hear what you have to say.
Demonstrations, applause, clapping, and signage are prohibited during a committee meeting. You may be asked to leave by the committee Chairman if you participate in disruptive activities.
Legislators on the committee may enter and exit throughout the meeting as they fulfill other commitments, do not be offended if a member leaves when you are speaking.
Legislators want to hear from you. Your input is important to them and they appreciate your interest in Idaho’s legislative process.
This information has been provided by:
Office of the Secretary of the Senate
Idaho State Senate
Office of the Chief Clerk
Idaho House of Representatives
Office of Legislative Services
Idaho State Legislature