How to Fill Out a Witness Form for Texas Legislative Committees
As of 2014, anyone wishing to testify at a public hearing of the Texas Legislature is required to fill out a form. The House of Representatives has gone to an electronic registration system that is explained online at https://www.mytxlegis.legis.state.tx.us/hwrspublic/about.aspx . The witness must be within reach of the Capitol’s wifi system to access the registration site via one’s own iPad or use the provided kiosks. The registration process is uniform for all House committees.
In the Senate, paper or cards are still used for witness affirmation forms, and they can vary from committee to committee or even from hearing to hearing. This example is from the Committee on Health and Human Services.
(This image was prepared by Jessica Luther, and the original is on her website).
The committee minutes will reflect whether the witness registered for, against, or on a bill. As a courtesy to the bill’s author, a person who supports the bill but has concerns or opposes certain provisions should register for or on the bill.
Written testimony will be included in the hearing record, and some committees are making this testimony available online as well, so witnesses are well advised to submit written testimony. This testimony can include pictures, drawings, charts, or other exhibits, but should not include any copyrighted material or personal information such as email addresses.
For hearings where many people are expressing similar opinions, checking “registering position, not testifying’ will usually accomplish the witness’s goal and save time in the hearing.
It is very important that the name and information be written legibly. The Committee Chair will call the name written on the card, so if pronunciation is not obvious, the witness should let the committee staff know. Also, these cards are entered manually into a database, so if a witness makes multiple appearances, it is helpful if the information entered is consistent from card to card.
As a final note, witness forms are typically available only the day of the hearing, at the hearing. Witnesses should arrive at the hearing in plenty of time to fill out and submit witness cards.