Through the years I have spoken with many people who have commented that they would love to go to Augusta and tell their Representative what is on their mind but that the whole process seems intimidating. The purpose of this document is to walk you step by step through the process and show you it is really easy and very important!
WHERE DO I GO?
The Legislature meets at The Capitol in Augusta and your hearing will be in the Cross Office Building. The address for that building is 111 Sewall Street, Augusta. The Capitol is a large domed building. If you grew up in Maine you may have been there in 4th grade! There is a parking garage across the street. Parking can be crazy so allow a little extra time. If you go into the Capitol, you will need to go through a metal detector so be sure and leave those wine keys at home!
WHAT DO I WEAR?
People tend to be dressed up at The Capitol. Women mostly wear a skirt and a jacket, or slacks and a jacket. My default is black pants, boots and a sweater. Gentlemen usually wear a tie and jacket. However I would comment that there are people there who are very dressed up and people who are in jeans. My advice is to dress as you would for a job interview. Be comfortable but neat.
WHICH ROOM DO I GO TO?
The public hearing will be in the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, which is Room 208 in the Cross Office Building
CAN I GET SOMETHING TO EAT THERE?
Yes! There is a cafeteria in the Cross Building. It is on the ground floor. They serve both breakfast and lunch and also have snacks. It can be crowded in there but if you keep walking towards to back you will likely find additional seating there.
HOW ABOUT RESTROOMS AND ELEVATORS?
They are located on each floor in both the Cross Building and the Capitol.
WHAT WILL THE ROOM BE LIKE?
Generally the hearing rooms have a lot of chairs set up for members of the public, staff, lobbyists and anyone else who wants to speak to the Committee to sit in. The Committee sits facing the chairs and they have desks in front of them. Sometimes when there are a lot of people who want to speak on a bill they may have “overflow” rooms where you can sit and listen to people testify and this will occur that day. Signs will be placed at the committee room to notify you of the locations. Many people leave after they testify and at that time people in the overflow rooms can move in to the hearing room. Bringing food and drink in the room is generally not allowed. You may be there for a long time so bring something to do like a book or a phone or an iPad. There is free Wifi throughout the building.
HOW DOES THE HEARING GO?
That is up to the Chair but often the Committee members introduce themselves and tell you where they represent. Many of the Representatives are on more than one Committee so they may either not be there or come and go. They are not being disrespectful, they just have multiple responsibilities.
There will be a sheet where you write your name when you come in and the Chair will call out names of people to come to the podium to speak. Legislative sponsors (legislators) will go first and then the committee chair will rotate the proponents and opponents. Proponents (those in favor of the tip credit) will go first and will be allowed 3 minutes to speak. At some point after 5 or 10 proponents, the chair will allow opponents (those against the tip credit) to speak. This rotation will continue until everyone has had an opportunity to speak. You will want to write out your testimony and bring 25 copies. When you approach the podium, hand it to the Clerk and they will hand it out for you. Make sure you have your name, address, phone number and email address so they can contact you if they have questions. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO SPEAK, IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THAT PROCESS.
WHAT SHOULD I SAY?
Start out by saying Senator Volk, Representative Fecteau and Committee members of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, my name is XXXX, I am a resident of XXX and I am here today to speak in favor of LD 673 and 702 and in opposition to LD 1117, the study bill. (This is the number of the bill. LD stands for Legislative Document.) You can then read your testimony. Your testimony should say why you are in favor of the bill. Tell them in your own words how the elimination of the tip credit has hurt you and how reinstatement of the tip credit will help you. If you have statistics or numbers that you can share that can be helpful. You may be nervous and that is fine! Legislators
understand you are not a professional Lobbyist. As a member of the public often your testimony can carry a lot of weight as Legislators need to know how a given bill affects members of the public.
End by thanking them for their time and offering to answer any questions. If they ask you a question and you do not know the answer it is totally fine to say that you do not know! Always be polite even if you do not agree with what is being said. You can say “I would have to respectfully disagree with that”.
You are welcome to stay after you testify, or you can leave.
Please feel free to contact me at anytime if I can help in any way!
Jean Ginn Marvin firstname.lastname@example.org 329-1310 cell