The Senate Health & Human Services Committee is scheduled to take public testimony on SB 1 (Relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities; providing penalties) starting at 10:00 AM on Monday, July 08, 2013. The hearing will be in the Texas Capitol extension in room E1.036 (Finance Room) and they will start allowing witnesses to sign up outside the room starting at 9 am.
This is the Senate companion bill to HB2 which was heard in the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The House set a time limit on their hearing and in over 8 hours was only able to take oral testimony from 94 individuals. While the notice for the Senate hearing does not have a hard end time and they are only allotting 2 minutes to each witness to maximize the committee’s ability to hear from as many individuals wishing to testify as possible, if 2,000 people register, it is unlikely they will be able to hear from everyone. We have provided information below on how best to have your voice heard, whether you speak in front of the committee or not..
- Get there as early as possible to register. Witnesses are called at the discretion of the chair, but the earlier you register, the greater your chances are that you will be called.
- Even if you are not prepared to stay all day to testify, or do not want to speak, show up to register. You can indicate your position on the bill and that you are not testifying. This will be included on the witness list. You may only register for yourself and must do so in person.
- If you can prepare your remarks in advance, please do so in writing. Written testimony may be turned into the clerk to be distributed to members and even if you are not able to speak or have to leave before you are called, it becomes part of the public record. You will need to supply 20 copies of the written testimony to the clerk with your name on each page.
- Below is a simple sample format for written testimony.
Testimony of (your name here)
On behalf of (Organization name here) *optional
Before the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
on July 8, 2013
Chairman Nelson and members of the committee, thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak before you. My name is (your name here). I am here to speak (against/on/for) SB1.
State your concerns or reasons for your position. If you agree with parts of a bill, state that up front and then tell the committee where you disagree.
Provide any data you wish the committee to have and be sure to provide your sources in the written materials. You don’t have to take up your time stating them to the committee if speaking, but should have them in front of you in case the committee members ask where you got the information.
Tell your story. Remember if you get to speak you only have 2 minutes and the more concise you are the less likely you will be cut off. You can elaborate in your written testimony, but should also prepare something that will fit within the two minutes allowed you.
For those who showed up on Tuesday and stayed until midnight without getting the opportunity to speak, we hope you have that opportunity on Monday, but if not, these tips may still allow your voice to be heard.
NOTE: While I have my own position on this issue, our Texas office has not taken an official position, and that is why the sample written testimony format allows for all positions.