A Gun Owners Guide for Testifying at the General Assembly
As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is your right to voice your opinion regarding pending legislation. One way to have your views heard is to testify at a legislative hearing conducted by a legislative committee or interim study group. At a public hearing, private citizens have an opportunity within the time allowed to let their feelings be known.
During the session, public hearings are usually held by committees of the House of Delegates and the Senate on specific legislation. Public hearings are listed on the calendars printed each day the Senate and House meet. Public hearings are listed on the Legislative Meeting Schedule web page.
During the interim, a legislative study committee or commission may hold a public hearing. Notices of these hearings are sent to the Commonwealth's news media for broadcast and publication and are listed on the Legislative Meeting Schedule web page.
The Hearing Process
The General Assembly Session is a busy time and public hearings are scheduled along with many other meetings. Therefore, many hearings will be held within the constraints of a strenuous time schedule. These constraints could limit the time that each speaker is granted, in order to enable as many speakers as possible to speak to the committee or study group. The chairman who is presiding over the meeting will determine what time limits, if any, are imposed and will announce the guidelines at the beginning of the hearing.
At the beginning of the hearing, the patron of the legislation in question will be given the chance to speak first. After the patron's explanation of the bill's intent, the opponents and proponents will be given the chance to be heard in an order set forth by the Chairman.
If you wish to testify before the committee, you will need to register with the committee clerk. You will be asked to provide your name and the organization you represent, if any. You may be asked to indicate whether you are a proponent or opponent of the matter at hand.
Letters or written correspondence stating your support or opposition to a matter will be accepted in lieu of oral testimony at the hearing. Persons wishing to submit such written material should address their correspondence to the clerk of the committee. They should ensure the information arrives before the hearing.
Hearings held by committees, subcommittees, and commissions during the interim period operate under the same guidelines and procedures.
- Be aware that sometimes the patron of a bill may offer amendments to the bill. Amendments could possibly change your opinion of the bill and affect your presentation.
- Be prepared to adapt your remarks to avoid making the same point made by previous speakers.
- Be prepared to answer questions that the legislators might have.
- It is recommended that you have written copies of your testimony to accompany your oral remarks. Please have at least 30 copies of your remarks available for distribution to the members of the committee and the staff. If the written testimony is lengthy, it is recommended that you quickly summarize the material in order that other speakers might be heard. Remember, the committee will also accept written testimony in lieu of an oral presentation.
- Outbursts and remarks from the audience will be prohibited. The committee should be addressed from the speaker's podium.
- Please do not be offended if some legislators rise and leave the hearing room. They have many commitments, including making presentations before other committees.
- For interpreter services or other accommodations telephone (804) 698-7450 or (804) 698-1540, TDD number 1 (866) 267-1474 or (804) 786-2369. Written requests may be made through the address on the inside middle panel. Requests for interpreters should be received seven days prior to the meeting.
Contact Your Legislator
To find your legislator click here.
For additional information regarding public hearings, committee meetings, interpreter services, other accommodations or other questions, contact:
House Clerk's Office
House Committee Operations
P.O. Box 406
Senate Clerk's Office
Senate Committee Operations
P.O. Box 396