Hearing Observers – 2023 Session

We need volunteers to observe legislative hearings during the 2023 Legislation Session. It’s an important role, and it can be fun! We use your hearing notes to inform activists across the state as well as to further hone our talking points so that all of us can become more successful advocates.

The 2023 Session runs from Tuesday, Jan. 17 though Saturday, March 18. We ask you to sign up for one or two “shifts” a week, either 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. or 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. (During the first week or so, there are often no hearings during your shift.) We provide an outline for note-taking that you then email back to us when you’re done. To learn more about the role, please read the FAQs below.

Please complete the sign-up form at this link.

Thank you! If you have any questions, email us at retakeresponse@gmail.com.

Hearing Observer FAQs

When will I know if there is a hearing to cover during my shift?

Hearings are often scheduled last-minute, so you often won’t know if you’ll need to cover a hearing until the night before. We try to notify you one way or the other, but if you do not receive an email notification from Retake by 8 p.m., then you likely won’t be needed the following day.

How reliable are the hearing schedules?

Bills are frequently scheduled and then held over for another day or are removed from the agenda for no apparent reason. If a bill is rolled over to another day, please notify us at retakeresponse@gmail.com. Morning hearings usually begin on time, between 8 and 10 a.m. Afternoon hearings often don’t begin on time because they follow Senate or House floor sessions, which can run late. You may need to follow the floor session via Webcast at nmlegis.gov to know when it ends. Afternoon hearings begin 15-30 mins. after that.

How do I watch a hearing?

You can observe hearings in person at the Roundhouse or online at home. In person: The email notice you receive from us the evening before us will give you the scheduled time and room number of the hearing. Please show up 15 minutes early, if possible, to guarantee you get a seat.

Online: There are two options for watching hearings online. One is via Webcast at nmlegis.gov. Click on “Webcast” in the top menu bar and find the committee you need in the list. Click on the committee name and the webcast should appear in a few seconds. The other is by participating directly in the committee Zoom. You will receive the Zoom link and other necessary info in the email notice you receive from us the night before.

What info do I need to participate in a hearing?

The email you receive the night before will look something like this one from a previous session:

“Dear [NAME], We know of one hearing on Tuesday morning so far. The info is below. Please confirm that you can cover it.

Thank you!

Tues., March 2, 9 a.m. Senate Conservation: HB 51 Environmental Database Act. HB 51 establishes a single web-based information portal for city, county, and public access to state environmental data. Among sources of data that would be aggregated: oil and gas wells and pipelines, active mines, utility scale solar and wind projects on state land; rare plant data, locations of permits for sources of air pollution, surface waters, state superfund sites; locations of state trust land leases and active Rights of Way across state trust land; health impact assessments, poverty levels by zip code, child asthma rates by zip code; critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, wildlife corridors, important bird/plant areas, fish management waters.

Watch the Webcast at nmlegis.gov, or follow these instructions to join the Zoom: The deadline to register for public comment is Monday, March 1, 5:00 p.m. Please click here to register for public comment:  https://forms.gle/5pgx2bgxGyHEDeCS8. You can submit written comment (300 words or less) any time by emailing SCONC@nmlegis.gov with your Name, Entity Representing, Bill #, For or Against.”

Do I need to offer public comment in the hearing?

No. You can offer public comment if you like (see next question for how), but you can choose to be a silent observer. It’s up to you. House committees often ask for a show of hands (via Zoom or in person) for those in favor or opposed to the bill. This way, you can show your support/opposition without speaking. Senate committees typically require you to sign up in advance to comment or show support/opposition.

How do I offer Public Comment at a hearing I’m observing?

You may comment in person or via Zoom, but not via Webcast. Every committee varies, but you’re usually given from 1 to 3 minutes to speak.

Senate Committees require you to sign up online and/or email your written comment the day before. The info you need is included in the notification you receive from Retake. Then, a staff person will typically send you a Zoom link to the hearing just before it begins. If you’re attending in person, there is often a sign-up list at the door as you enter the hearing.

House Committees typically ask at the beginning of the hearing if anyone wants to offer comment. If you’re in person, they may then ask you to form a line and await your turn to speak. If you’re on the Zoom, they will ask you to raise your hand and a staff member will call on you when it’s your turn.

What information do I need to gather when observing a hearing?

This year we’re using a simplified hearing observation form to help you record what happens at a hearing. It’s a simple Word doc that you will receive with instructions as a separate attachment. Keep the original document and save it each time, using the bill number as the document name.

To give you a preview, this is the info we ask you to complete on the Observation Record:

  • Your name, bill name and bill number.
  • Date and time of hearing.
  • Committee name, e.g., House Education, Senate Judiciary
  • Major concerns raised about the bill and what the response was to those concerns, from legislators, lobbyists, members of the public, or expert witnesses. There is space to record multiple concerns. Note which concerns were most dominant.
  • Votes of each committee members. You will copy and paste committee names from info emailed to you the day before the hearing. Simply type the vote next to the name.
  • Possible votes are: Do Pass, Pass As Amended, No Recommendation, No Pass, Table.
  • Please note if a member is absent or left before the vote.
  • What was the overall committee vote, based on individual votes? If no vote, was the bill Tabled or Withdrawn? If Tabled, please record who voted to Table
  • If a bill was amended, describe the amendment briefly, but only if amendment was significant.
  • Any other comments or concerns you note.

Thank you for volunteering to be a Hearing Observer for Retake Our Democracy! Please email us at retakeresponse@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns. We typically reply within a few hours. Once you’ve signed up, we will provide a text contact for more urgent questions. Thanks again. I hope you enjoy your experience!

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