What you need to know to be a legislative activist for MFOA Legislation

How to Support Maine Friends of Animals’ Legislation

  • Know the talking points for the bills. Go to www.mfoa.net for Bill Overviews and Fact Sheets. These are the four MFOA bills that went before the 129th Legislature:

“An Act To Make Post-Conviction Possession of an Animal a Criminal Offense” 

“An Act To Change the Allocation Formula for Revenue from Slot Machines” 

(primarily to address the subsidizing of the Maine harness racing industry)

An Act Relating To Pet Shops” (to address puppy / kitten mills)

“An Act To Provide Court Appointed Advocates for Justice in Animal Cruelty Cases”, aka Franky’s Law

  • Be sure MFOA has your email address to receive our Updates and Action Alerts.
  • Share bill information on your social media; ask friends to contact their legislators. 
  • Write Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper(s).
  • Most important: Contact your State Representative and Senator — send them a letter or email explaining the legislation you hope they will support. Make sure you state the name of the bill and LD # and a brief explanation about what the legislation would do. Concisely explain why the bill is needed and request their vote and support. If you can call, even better and again be polite, respectful, and concise. Note: If your legislator serves on the committee one of the MFOA bills is before, as a constituent it is even more important to reach out to them. 
  • Attend public hearings for the bill(s) in Augusta and give oral testimony or submit written testimony to the Committee via the Committee clerk. Go to legislature.maine.gov for bill and committee information. 
  • Just before the vote is taken on the bill in the House and Senate, re-contact, via their office, your two legislators in Augusta by telephone. Leave a very short message giving your name, address and simply naming the specific bill you want them to vote for: 

House Democratic office (207) 287-1430      Senate Democratic office (207) 287-1515 House Republican office (207) 287-1440                    Senate Republican office (207) 287-1505 

                     GUIDELINES FOR PREPARING, WRITING, and GIVING TESTIMONY

You can 1. email or mail testimony to the Committee Clerk, 2. attend the hearing to support the bill and submit written testimony, or 3. provide oral testimony at the hearing.  

To submit testimony online go to www.mainelegislature.org/testimony

Giving testimony is one of the most effective ways to educate legislators and policy-makers about the impact, either positive or negative, of the proposed legislation and the change it might have. 

PROVIDING THE COMMITTEE ORAL TESTIMONY IN AUGUSTA

Don’t be intimidated. The legislators likely know little about the bill and need and want to hear your input, and/or they may not be aware of the implications of a particular piece of legislation. 

  • Most Committees have a three-minute rule. Practice your speech at a regular pace so you can comfortably complete it in three minutes. You can always submit materials and other testimony in writing and reference it in your oral testimony. You also can elaborate if the Committee asks you a question after your testimony. Use the question time to not only ask the question, but perhaps refer to a key point in your testimony you wish to add to or underline.
  • Print one copy of your speech in large font to make it easier to read / refer to. Highlight the keywords. Memorizing pieces of the speech is helpful so that you can make eye contact with Committee members, or if comfortable, put your speech or notes on the lectern and occasionally glance down at your keywords. Time may be limited so it is often good to read your remarks to be sure you say what you want to in 3 minutes.
  • Practicing your speech as it’s written can sound different than when given orally. Write your remarks like you talk. 
  • Wear business casual clothes, and clothing you are comfortable in. 
  • Arrive early to get a seat in the Committee Room and in some cases, to sign up to provide testimony. It also allows you to perhaps chat with a legislator(s) in the room before the hearing begins. 
  • Just as you are about to speak, first give the Committee Clerk 20 copies of your testimony to pass out to the committee. 

Follow this the appropriate heading for your testimony: 

Your name, your title

In Support of (or Against) LD #___ “An Act to ……….”

‘Committee on (Veterans and Legal Affairs’, etc.) and the date of the hearing.

Begin testimony with, “Good afternoon (morning) “Senator____________, Representative_____________ [Senate and House chair], and members of the Committee on (Veterans and legal Affairs” etc.). Identify yourself and the organization you represent (if applicable), and where you are from.

  • Stay calm. Don’t rush, and don’t be afraid to to stop and think for a moment if you feel nervous.  Also you can use silence; it can be a great ally and cause the audience to wonder what you are about to say. Don’t be intimidated by silent moments. Remember they want to hear your testimony to help them better understand the bill.
  • Be concise, no longer than three minutes. Clearly present your position, stating as either “For” or “Against” the proposed bill; provide factual arguments and data as evidence to support your position, if available; offering a personal story or anecdote to demonstrate your position can be powerful; conclude with a review of your position at the end of your testimony.
  • Try not to repeat points made by speakers ahead of you. If all of the points you wanted to make have been made, tell the Committee you agree with the testimony given by the preceding speakers, offer anything different, and urge them to take the appropriate action.
  • Conclude by thanking the Committee for the opportunity to provide testimony; ask them to vote ‘out-to-pass” (or ought-not-to-pass) for LD ___; and offer to answer any questions they may have. 
  • Often you are not asked questions after you give your testimony, but it is prudent to anticipate questions you might be asked by the Committee and prepare / practice answering them.  
  • Answer only those questions that you can answer correctly, as clearly and succinctly as you can. Offer to find the answers to questions you are not sure of and to promptly get back to the Committee (via the clerk) with the information.
  • Do not argue with members of the Committee or people giving opposing testimony. Always be polite and respectful of the procedure and the participants in the hearing. 

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