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Procedures for Testifying


• People may sign-up inside the hearing room beginning one-half hour before the hearing.

• People who testify are asked to bring seven copies of any written testimony and to give it to the Council’s Administrator for distribution to the Council and for the record.

• Generally, people are called to testify on each bill in the order of the sign-in; however, the Chair has flexibility to take people or bills out of order.

• People who speak as individuals may speak for up to 3 minutes.

• People who speak on behalf of a group or organization may speak for up to 5 minutes.

However, a group may do either/or — have a group spokesman for 5 minutes OR speak as individuals (not representing the group) for 3 minutes each, but not both. If more than one person from a group wishes to speak, they should speak as individuals, for a maximum of 3 minutes each. They should not identify themselves as representing or speaking on behalf of a group or organization.

Note: It often is more effective for a group to designate one speaker, who may ask the non-speaking members of the group to stand to indicate the number of people present who are represented by that speaker. Designating a single speaker for a group tends to avoid repetition for the Council and allows the group to give a thorough, cohesive account. Such a presentation usually is more compelling than a larger number of individual speakers. In addition, group members who have a single speaker may also submit written testimony or a petition of support from a number of individual members who elect not to speak.

• Speakers may not cede time to another speaker.

• When a speaker is called to the podium, he or she should first state his or her name and address so that it may be included in the record of testimony.

• Written testimony will be accepted until the voting session on the bill; however, members are most likely to have time to read it if it is submitted by the week before the voting session.

• Testimony e-mailed to councilmail@howardcountymd.gov will be directed automatically to all council members and to the Administrator for the record.

• Placards, balloons, and other displays that may impair visibility or detract from the formality of the occasion are not allowed in the hearing room.

• Please turn off all cell phones, Blackberries, and other electronic equipment while in the hearing room. (It is not sufficient to put them on mute or vibrate. The signals sometimes interfere with the sound system, causing feedback and other problems.)

• Food or drinks may be consumed in the lobby. Please do not bring them into the hearing room (including bottled water).