How to Testify

If you want to weigh in on legislation, there are several ways to get your opinion and comments directly to lawmakers and recorded for posterity.

First, identify the specific legislation. Then find out where it is in the legislative process. You can look up bills, schedules, committee information and more on the web on the legislature’s redesigned bills and laws page, formerly known as BASIS, or Bill Action Status Inquiry System. You can also look things up through the Legislative Affairs Agency’s free iOS and Android apps for smartphones and tablets.

Email and text alerts for custom bill lists are available via the legislature’s Bill Tracking Management Facility.

The House Speaker and Senate President refer each bill to one or more committees, where public comment can be made. Committee schedules and bill details on the legislature’s website usually note hearings for public testimony at least a few days in advance.

Once you know where and when to testify, you can participate in three ways:

1. Testify in person

Just show up, sign in and wait for your name to be called. You may need to wait several hours, depending on the agenda and how many people are signed up to testify.

Specific practices for testimony vary from committee to committee and chair to chair. Time limits are common. Dialogue is usually discouraged.

Legislators listen especially for whether a speaker is for or against the bill at hand, and for suggested changes.

2. Testify remotely

If you can’t physically get to a committee hearing but want to testify live, go to your nearest Legislative Information Office. If you can’t get to one, call your local LIO to join a live teleconference.

3. Testify in writing

It’s important to address your written testimony to the committee as well as individual legislators, because the legislature’s records policy makes a distinction between what’s public and private.

Individual legislators’ records are private according to the policy, and may be excluded from official public records. Written testimony submitted to a committee is public. Further, under Uniform Rule 23, committees must deliver written testimony to the legislative reference library for recordkeeping.

Written testimony can be submitted via email, LIO, or the Public Opinion Message system. Committee rosters, email addresses and other contact information are available on the legislature’s website.

In all forms of testimony, identify yourself and who you are representing, such as a business, other organization or yourself. 

Live testimony is recorded and archived in official meeting minutes and state audio archives. Live testimony may also likely be in unofficial archives through Gavel Alaska and the Legislative Affairs Agency’s webstreams.