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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 90 Minutes Early
    On-street parking in Annapolis is extremely difficult to find. Plan to arrive early so you can park, walk to the Senate or House Office building, and find the committee hearing room.
  • Bring Your State ID
    All visitors are required to go through a metal detector and have their bags checked. Adults may be asked to show ID.
  • Sign Up to Testify
    Anyone wishing to speak in front of the House or Senate Committee MUST sign-up ONE HOUR before the hearing starts. "Sign up" happens through wall-mounted, touch screen monitors located outside of each hearing room. If your name does not appear on the list, you will not be allowed to tesify. Sign-up closes one hour before the hearing begins. Committee Hearings usually start at 1:00pm. If you are testifying in support of a bill, you can try calling the lead sponsor's office to see if a staff member will get your name on the list ahead of time.
  • 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. Sometimes a bill sponsor will request a later hearing time because they have a conflict with another committee obligation. You may have to wait up to four hours before your bill is called.
  • Keep It Short
    You will have a maximum of three (3) minutes to speak. Committee chairs are known for cutting people off, if they go over their alloted time.
  • Be Prepared
    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. If you want to share written testimony that includes data tables, graphs, or links to further information, that is in addition to your oral testimony, bring 35 copies and be sure to give it to Committee Staff as soon as you arrive.
  • Practice Ahead of Time
    Practice clearly reading your testimony before the day of the hearing. You will be sitting at a desk with a microphone mounted on the table top. Your testimony will be recorded, as well as live-streamed. Do not hold your papers up as you read, as it will block the microphone.
  • Anticipate Questions
    Be prepared to answer questions that committee members may have for you.

More Information

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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