This section is contributed by our exclusive Advocacy Update sponsor Verrill and their lobbying and communications group, Maine Street Solutions. Participating in the Maine Legislature in the Virtual Era
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we all work and the Maine Legislature is no exception. This legislative session is unlike any other in Maine’s history. The 186 members of the Maine Legislature have met together in-person for a total of 3 days so far this year. In a “normal” year, the full Legislature would hold sessions of the House and Senate twice a week starting in January and add additional session days as the legislative work built up. In addition, legislative committees would be meeting at the State House complex to consider and vote on bills. Given the risks of gathering that many people together, this year legislative committees have been meeting virtually, via Zoom.
Moving legislative committee work online has had drawbacks – legislators, lobbyists and advocates are missing out on the camaraderie they normally experience in the halls of the State House. But allowing virtual participation has also had benefits, namely that people from all across the State can take part in committee hearings, without having to travel to Augusta.
If you’re looking for ways to participate in Maine’s legislative process this year, we’ve compiled the steps and links here:
Submitting Written Testimony
Once a public hearing has been scheduled for a bill, you can submit written testimony to the committee via the State's online testimony submission system. On this page you will be asked to select the committee, the date of the hearing, and then the bill itself. You will then enter your testimony -- you can either upload a document or copy and paste into the testimony field. Using this online testimony submission portal ensures that all members of the committee, in addition to the clerk and analysts, receive your written remarks.
Presenting Live Testimony
You can register to give oral testimony using the same online testimony submission platform. When filling out the form, be sure to check the box for "I would like to present my testimony live." This will ensure you receive the Zoom link for the public hearing. You can find more information about what to expect when participating in a Zoom public hearing on the Maine Street Solutions website.
Monitoring Committee Meetings
If you simply want to watch committee proceedings, instead of giving oral testimony, you can choose to watch either live or at a later time.
Watch committee meetings via the Maine Legislature's YouTube.