Legislative Testimony Assignment (FTS-100-131, Fall 2012)
Due by email November 20th; revised version due by email November 29th; oral presentation December 13th
When the Minnesota legislature considers a bill, a relevant committee holds a public hearing at which experts and members of the general public offer testimony either supporting or opposing the bill. Often the testifiers also submit their testimony in writing. Particularly on controversial bills where many testifiers are expected, the committee chair may impose a time limit for each testifier. The written testimony may go into somewhat more detail.
For the purposes of this assignment, we will assume that the time is the spring of 2013. The newly-elected Minnesota legislature is in session. Rep. Hailperin has reintroduced a bill that Rep. Champion got passed in 2009, but which at that time was vetoed by Governor Pawlenty. By amazing coincidence, the bill is again numbered HF 545. Rep. Simon, the chair of the Elections Committee, has scheduled a hearing with a limit of three minutes per testifier. You are to take the role of one of the testifiers. (When we do the mock hearing, you'll also play the role of a committee member.) You are to submit written testimony; at the mock hearing, you will also deliver an oral version.
You are to play the role indicated by your initials on the following lists:
- A representative of one of the following organizations:
- Minnesota Majority (EW)
- ACLU of Minnesota (JB)
- Minnesota Second Chance Coalition (DL)
- Minnesota Taxpayers League (TS)
- ISAIAH (JS)
- Minnesota Voters Alliance (CJ)
- A representative of one of the following state government agencies:
- Office of the Secretary of State (NS)
- Reentry Services Unit, Department of Corrections (WW)
- State Court Administrator's Office (MH)
- A representative of one of the following associations of county officials:
- Minnesota County Attorneys Association (BD)
- Minnesota Association of County Officers (JP)
- Minnesota Association of County Probation Officers (KK)
- A private individual who:
- has served time for a felony (MD)
- has served as an election judge (BM)
You should decide what your position on the bill is based on the role you are playing. You should write testimony that would correspondingly persuade the committee either to recommend the bill for passage or not, drawing on the experience and perspectives of your role. Any statistical information you include ought to be genuine, but you should feel free to invent relevant personal experiences.
You will be graded for your adherence to the following standards in your written testimony:
- You introduce yourself and the organization you represent or perspective you speak from.
- You show yourself to be an educated person by using conventional spelling, punctuation, grammar, and word choice.
- You respect your audience by not demeaning the character or intellect of your opponents.
- Each paragraph makes a single, identifiable point.
- You introduce relevant factual information, such as statistics or a personal experience.
- You link your factual information with the provisions of the bill.
- You link your information to values that ought to matter to the committee.
- You link your values proposition to the action you advocate.
- Although your tone starts out analytical to establish ethos, it transitions to something stronger such as compassion, sorrow, indignation, or determination.
- Your closing moves the reader to action