Take Action Toolkit
Your voice can make a huge difference for passing new laws to protect Maine’s environment and stopping bad proposals from becoming law. This toolkit provides Maine people with resources and guidelines for how to participate in the legislative process and speak out in support of Maine’s air, land, water, and wildlife.
Maine’s Legislative Process: Where You Fit In
The Maine Legislature operates on a two-year schedule. At the beginning of each legislative session, lawmakers submit thousands of proposed bills. Each one then receives an LD number and is assigned to one of 19 committees where it is reviewed, analyzed, and receives a public hearing.
- Visit our bill tracking page to see what bills NRCM is tracking and learn when the hearing will be.
- Find your Maine state legislators
- View legislative committees
After a bill receives a public hearing, the committee either approves it and then goes to the Senate or House of Representatives for a vote, or it is rejected by committee, which means it will no longer be considered. At every step of the process, your voice matters!
- Tips for contacting your legislator
- Writing a letter-to-the-editor and and Maine newspaper contact info
- Sign up to receive NRCM action alerts
How to Testify at Public Hearings
Due to the ongoing pandemic, all legislative hearings in 2021 will be held online via Zoom webinar and streamed live on the Legislature’s YouTube channel. Tune in to our video above to see what this process will look like, or follow the steps below:
- Track the bills you care about via NRCM’s Bill Tracking Page, which gives a summary, NRCM’s position, and tells you where the bill is in the legislative process, including when public hearings are coming up.
- Sign up to testify at a public hearing once it has been announced via the Maine Legislature’s Testimony Submission and Sign-up page. In order to testify at the hearing, you must fill out this form at least 30 minutes before the hearing begins.
- Select the committee to which the bill has been assigned, the date of the hearing, and the bill title.
- To sign up to testify at the hearing, click the box that reads: “I would like to present my testimony live”—and whether you are for or against the bill.
- If you have written testimony to submit with your oral testimony, you can upload a file or type the testimony into the text box on the page.
- Add your name, town, email address, and phone number.
- Click “I am not a robot” and “Submit/Register.”
- Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive an email to the address provided when signing up to testify. This will come from the committee clerk and will have a link to register for the Zoom webinar. Fill out this registration form, and you’ll receive another email from Zoom with the link to join the hearing.
- Join the hearing with the link provided when it is time for the hearing to start. You’ll begin as a “participant” in the Zoom webinar—meaning, you can hear and see the committee members, but they will not be able to hear or see you. When it’s your turn to testify, you’ll be promoted to a “panelist,” at which time the committee members will be able to see your video and hear you speak.
- Deliver your testimony once you are called on by the committee chair. If it’s a busy hearing, you’ll likely be limited to three minutes. See below for tips on developing and delivering compelling testimony.
- Once you’re done testifying, you’ll be moved back to a “participant” on the Zoom webinar, and the committee will no longer be able to hear or see you. At this point, we recommend you leave the Zoom meeting and watch the remainder of the hearing on the committee’s YouTube channel.
Note: Persons with special needs who require accommodations to participate in legislative hearings should contact the Legislative Information Office at (207) 287-1692, FAX (207) 287-1580, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unfamiliar with Zoom? We recommend watching these basic Zoom tutorials:
Tips for Developing and Delivering Compelling Testimony
Watch our video above to hear tips from our Outreach Coordinator Todd Martin on how to develop and deliver compelling testimony. See below for these tips summarized:
Tips for Writing Effective Testimony
- Introduction: Address the two committee co-chairs and thank them
- Personal: Make a personal connection to the issue in the bill. Tell a personal story and why it relates to the bill.
- Details: Demonstrate your knowledge of the issue. Get specific about bill details and why it would work/not work for Maine.
- Examples: Demonstrate how the issue has been solved in another state or country, or not, and why Maine should follow/lead.
- Closing: Reiterate how you want the committee to vote and ask the committee if they have any questions.
Delivering Compelling Testimony
- Practice your 3-minute testimony before the hearing.
- Make sure you submit your written testimony via the testimony submission portal so that committee members can read along.
- Let your legislators and NRCM know you’ll be testifying if they want to tune in and send them a copy of your testimony.
- Log in a few minutes early for the hearing to get situated and hear others testify so you don’t miss your turn.
- Make sure your video and audio are working and you’re in a quiet place where you can be heard.
- Make sure your background is clear of distractions and your lighting is sufficient so you can be seen in the frame.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Try to maintain eye contact with the camera.
- Make your testimony personal, get specific, and give details!