JUFJ members testifying in Annapolis in 2020
Jo, Joanna, Carol, and Toby testifying in Annapolis pre-COVID-19. Photos by Joe Magar.

JUFJ’s Maryland General Assembly Testimony Guide

Thanks for being part of JUFJ’s campaigns for a more just Maryland! Submitting testimony to the Maryland General Assembly is a powerful piece of our advocacy work. Hearing the stories and personal narratives of community members is an important component of moving elected officials to take action on the issues JUFJ and our coalition partners care about.

You don’t have to be an expert! The most effective testimony is concise, specific, and personal: it should fit on one single-spaced page, clearly identify your support for or opposition to the bill in question, and make an emotional impact. An emotional story “sticks” with the reader more than facts and figures.

If you are just getting started, click the “How To” button for a video guide on how our testimony guides and templates will work.

Once you have a sense of what you want to submit testimony for, click on the “I want to testify” button. If you are ready to submit, click the “I’m ready to submit” button. When you are ready to start writing your testimony, use the guide and templates below!

Written Testimony Templates

JUFJ’s priority legislation is usually heard in a few key committees. Click below for Google Doc testimony templates for each key committee or use the editable template for any other committee. When you click a button, you will generate a new copy of the template that you can edit and use for drafting your own testimony.

  • Court & Prison Reform:
    • Juvenile Interrogation Protection Act: Judicial Proceedings (Senate) and Judiciary (House)
    • Funding Women’s Prerelease Facility: This will likely go through budget subcommittees. For now, use the “general” testimony template.
  • Immigrant Rights:
    • Universal Representation: Judicial Proceedings (Senate) and Judiciary (House)
  • Paid Family & Medical Leave:
    • Time to Care Act: Finance (Senate) and Economic Matters (House)
  • Transforming Public Safety:
    • Safe Schools: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs (Senate) and Ways & Means (House)
    • Baltimore Civilian Review Board: Baltimore City Delegations (House and Senate), Judiciary (House), Judicial Proceedings (Senate)
  • Renters’ Rights:
    • Let Rental Assistance Work: Judicial Proceedings (Senate) and Judiciary (House)
    • Funding Access to Counsel: This will likely go through budget subcommittees. For now, use the “general” testimony template.

TESTIMONY NOTES:

  • Your testimony should not exceed much more than one page.
  • Our position on bills is consistent with the positions of our coalitions. Should a coalition have a particular suggestion for amendments, we will communicate that to those providing testimony.
  • Click on the “Campaign Resources” button below for articles about the issues we work on.
  • By submitting your written testimony, you are NOT signing up to deliver oral testimony. If you are interested in oral testimony, please click the “Oral Testimony” button below for more information.
  • Looking for examples of testimony from other JUFJers? Click the “Testimony Examples” button below for an archive of many examples from the Maryland General Assembly, Baltimore, Montgomery County, and DC.

The template buttons will generate a new copy of the template that you can edit and use for drafting your own testimony.

Written Testimony Format

This testimony format is also included in the templates listed above.

OPENING: My name is (Your Name). I am a resident of District (Your District Number). I am submitting this testimony (in support of/in support with amendments/against) (HB#/SB#), (Bill Name).

FRAMING: Start off with thanking any committee member who is a sponsor of this bill – if relevant. Briefly describe who you are, what synagogue or other organizations you belong to, not including JUFJ. It is actually more powerful not to list JUFJ since we will also be submitting separate JUFJ testimony. Share why you care about the bill — mention your values, Jewish tradition, moral framework, personal experience with the issue, professional expertise, etc. that guide your viewpoint.

BODY: Use the body to more fully present your personal story, how it relates to the proposed bill, and how passing or rejecting the bill will improve the lives of people in Maryland. What do you think will be fixed/broken by passing this bill? What would have been different, positively or negatively, if this bill had been a law when your personal story occurred?

NOTE: Rebutting opposition arguments draws attention away from our coalitions’ messages and can inadvertently amplify the opposition. We suggest you keep your testimony focused on our coalition’s talking points and not focus on rebutting the opposition’s talking points.

CLOSING: The closing paragraph should reiterate your position on the bill. Explain why you think the bill will be effective/ineffective, outcomes that the bill will achieve, etc. This does not need to be long. End with: I respectfully urge this committee to return a (favorable/favorable with amendments/unfavorable) report on (HB#/SB#).

Have more questions about testifying in Annapolis? Contact Elianna or Matan.

Logistical Notes

Want to know exactly where to go, when to arrive, and how to get there? Click below for our guide to Annapolis logistics.