On Tuesday June 13, 2017, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation will host a public hearing on An Act to reduce traffic fatalities (S.1905/H.2877), an omnibus traffic safety bill with critical components to support bicyclist and pedestrian safety. This is a chance for citizens to weigh in on legislation.
Two ways you can take action to help the bill move ahead:
- Testify in person at the public hearing on Tuesday, June 13th at 2pm. If you plan to testify, please arrive a few minutes early to sign in or notify us at least one day in advance so we can sign you up to testify in support of S.1905/H.2877. For more information click here.
- Submit written testimony to the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation and your state legislators (see template letter provided below). E-mails should be sent to the committee chairs, copying your Representative and Senator, as well as the bill’s lead sponsors by end of day Tuesday, June 13. Find out if your legislators are co-sponsors of the bill.
With many bills to be considered in the hearing there is understandably procedures and protocol. With many interested in providing testimony or comment on these bills, the Coalition wants to offer answers to these frequently asked questions (special thanks to MassBike for putting these together):
WHERE IS THE HEARING?
Joint Committee on Transportation
Massachusetts State House, Boston, MA
Hearing Room A-1 (Building Map)
WHEN DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Tuesday, June 13, 2:00pm-5:00pm
HOW DO I FIND OUT MORE?
This link will provide a list of the lawmakers who serve on the committee: Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation
You can see the list of bills that will be heard on 6/13 by clicking here.
WHO CAN SPEAK?
Any interested citizen can sign up to testify in regards to bills that are listed for that hearing. Each individual must arrive prior to the hearing to sign up to speak. MassBike representatives will be on site at the check-in table to answer any questions. Typically, legislators will come testify in support of their own bills and they get to testify before the general public (i.e. they are “taken out of order.”)
IS THERE WI-FI?
Yes. You are welcome to connect via the State House’s free wi-fi, but courtesy dictates that all sound turned off.
CAN I BRING MY CELLPHONE?
Yes, but please keep it silenced and do not answer any calls. Photos are allowed.
HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?
The hearings will start at 2:00pm and continue until 4:00pm and could run later, if necessary. Beverages are allowed but please refrain from eating. If you plan on testifying, please arrive a few minutes early to sign in as a speaker or notify us at least one day in advance so we can sign you up to testify in support of S.1905/H.2877.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
We suggest business casual attire or more formal, although the hearing rooms can get quite warm, so a suit may be uncomfortable. We recommend removing any bicycle gear such as helmets, mirrors, and reflective outer garments before testifying.
HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO SPEAK?
Each speaker is allotted three minutes to testify, however panels are typically limited to 10 minutes total, which can result in less than 3 minutes per person if it is a panel of 4 or more. We recommend preparing notes to refer to, but not reading as if from a script. It is good to make eye contact with the committee while you testify. There will be a lot of testimony, keep it short, focused and to the point. Committee members do not want to hear the same points said over and over, so if someone before you already said things you were planning on saying, mention that you agree with earlier points made about xyz by such and such person/organization and spend most of your time on things that have not already been said.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
The State House is on Beacon Hill in downtown Boston. If taking mass transit, get off at Park Street. Click here for a map. The golden dome up the hill is atop the State House. Proceed to the Joseph Hooker Entrance or the Ashburton Park entrance. Staff can guide you to the hearing room. For those on bicycle, there are racks by both entrances. Vehicular parking is extremely limited and area garages are quite expensive.
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR WRITTEN COMMENT?
Send in your written comment as soon as possible. Written comment on any of the bills in question should be submitted, at the latest, by end of day on Tuesday June 13, but some late comments may be accepted.
IS THIS MY ONLY CHANCE TO COMMENT?
No. But the audience and process will change. The bills may be altered or merged with other similar bills or not put forward for consideration. If this committee reports favorably on any bill it moves on in the process of becoming a law. Hereafter the comments you make have less to do with those making the bill and more to do with those simply voting on the bill.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE HEARING?
If a bill is reported favorably by this committee it is sent on to the Ways and Means Committee in both the Senate and the House to determine if the state has the means to enact such a law. Thereafter the bill would go to a general vote, at which point your input with your local lawmakers becomes even more important.
CAN I PROVIDE WRITTEN TESTIMONY?
Yes. Even if you testify in person, we recommend submitting written testimony. Typically the written testimony is more formal and less conversational. E-mails should be sent to the committee chairs, copying your Representative and Senator, as well as the bill’s lead sponsors. Find out if your legislators are co-sponsors of the bill.
If speaking on behalf of an organization, written testimony on letterhead is recommended. We are especially seeking support from local advocacy groups, law enforcement professionals, municipal officials, elected officials, educational institutions, healthcare providers and every stakeholder in making the Massachusetts streetscape a safer place to live and work.
See below for sample testimony.
Other questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recommended e-mail subject: Testimony in support of An Act to reduce traffic fatalities S.1905/H.2877
Senator Thomas McGee, Transportation Senate Chair Thomas.McGee@masenate.gov
Representative William Straus, Transportation House Chair William.Straus@mahouse.gov
Dear Senator McGee, Representative Strauss, and members of the Joint Committee on Transportation,
I am writing to urge a favorable report for An Act to reduce traffic fatalities, (S.1905 - Brownsberger, H.2877 - Hecht and Rogers).
Serious injury and deaths from traffic crashes continue with troubling frequency on our streets. An Act to reduce traffic fatalities S.1905/H.2877 is a comprehensive piece of legislation which aims to create safer streets for all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, and passengers of motor vehicles.
[Tell your own story here. Why is this bill important to you?]
About the Bill
An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities (S.1905/H.2877) will ensure basic, but necessary traffic regulations to guarantee that everyone on our streets can expect to get from point A to point B safely. The bill includes, among other provisions:
- Lowering default speed limit on state highways and parkways in thickly settled areas from 30mph to 25mph
- Allowing municipalities to install limited traffic safety cameras exclusively for speeding and red light & right turn violations
- Equipping state contracted trucks with safety side-guards to reduce pedestrian & bicyclist fatalities
- Prohibits usage of mobile devices, except those in hands-free mode, while operating a motor vehicle
- Vulnerable road user language
Thanks again for your consideration, and I urge a favorable report for this bill.
city/town, state, zip