About the Legislature

Testify at a hearing

Committees are groups of representatives or senators who focus on a particular field, such as education or finance. They review legislation, state programs, and appointments by the Governor which are relevant to that field, and then report back to the Assembly or Senate.

There are two kinds of committee meetings, both of which are open to the general public:
  • In public hearings, committees hear from legislators and legislative agencies, experts in the field, and the general public. This helps them to make an informed decision about the bills before them.
  • In executive sessions, committees debate bills amongst themselves, and take votes. They return a report to the Assembly or Senate with their recommendations: Should the proposal be passed? Which amendments should be adopted?

You can see the hearing schedule for a committee by going to its page: Either search for the committee on our search page, or search for its name in the search bar at the top of this page. You can also use the ‘Committees’ tab in the top menu to browse committees. Hearing notices are listed near the top of the page, immediately below the list of members.

Testifying at a hearing

Members of the general public usually testify to express support or opposition to a bill, to suggest amendments, or to explain how it would affect them or others.

When you arrive, fill out a hearing slip and wait to be called by the committee. If you can’t stay for the entire hearing, notify the messenger or ‘page’, near the door, and ask to be called early.

Please keep your testimony to five minutes or less, and bring a copy of your testimony for each committee member. In particularly long hearings, the length of testimony may be limited, usually to about three minutes.

Other ways to participate

You can express your support or opposition to a bill without testifying. When you arrive, check the box on your hearing slip indicating that you support or oppose the bill but do not want to testify. This will be noted in the committee’s report to the Senate or Assembly.

You can also attend without filling out a hearing notice. Please refrain from cheering, booing, or waving signs, to avoid intimidating those who provide testimony.

If you can’t attend a hearing in person, the WisconsinEye network broadcasts many hearings live on television and the internet, and records others for later broadcast.

You can also express your support or opposition to a bill by contacting your legislators; use the form on our home page to find their contact information.