A couple weeks ago, I went to downtown Annapolis, but not to go shopping. This time, it was to testify in the House Judiciary Committee against a proposed ‘Dangerous Dog Law.’ (In short, the bill will make it a felony if your dog attacks another animal or human, and adds a pricey insurance plan requirement for dogs deemed ‘dangerous.’)
I left straight from school (note to self: high heel boots = not made for walking around campus) and got to Annapolis about an hour before the hearing, that was scheduled at 1 pm. I wasn’t exactly sure where the House Office Building was, but figured I could find it easy enough. After a little bit of walking I had arrived, and even though I was five minutes late, was able to submit my written testimony and sign up to speak.
Yuliya was already there so we headed over the the Senate House across the street for lunch. They had an unimpressive lunch-line/cafe thing in the basement. By the time we finished eating, it was close to 1pm so we headed back over to meet up with the rest of our group that was coming to to testify as well.
The room alone was intimidating! Thirty-five chairs behind the desks that lined the outside of forming a giant U along the three far walls. One chair for each delegate on the committee, marked with their name and equip with microphones so they could be heard easily, or recorded easily, I’m not sure which. The podium at the front of the room, facing into the circle of delegates was for those testifying. There was three chairs at that desk, they had microphones too and a full paper sized sign warning you that the microphones and cameras were always recording. Phew, no pressure.
One bill was discussed before ours and it was over way too quickly! I wasn’t ready to speak! The delegates Sponsoring the bill testified first, along with a representative from H$U$ and one other lady from a rescue. Then it was our turn to testify against the bill. The five of us approached the stand and we started speaking. I think I was third, or maybe second, I can’t remember.
Public speaking is not my forte and I’m sure I sounded like a babbling idiot as I fumbled around the testimony I had written trying to make sure my sentences were complete thoughts. Hard enough remembering what words I had just spit out, let along what points I was trying to make!
Good news, is that the bill received “Unfavorable Report by Judiciary” so we succeeded this time. I just need to work on the whole speaking part, so that next time goes smoother!
I didn’t expect another opportunity to practice to present itself this soon, but it has! This time in the form of a kennel license for people with only TEN intact dogs. That is a big penalty for show breeders and dog show hobbyist who can accumulate 10 intact dogs easily through co-ownership, etc. Retrieverman addresses the idea of these anti-breeder laws on his blog.
Maryland doesn’t need HB940. The hearing to testify AGAINST the bill is March 8th at 1pm, this time in the House Economic Matters Committee. If you can’t make it to that hearing, e-mail the Committee to let them know what you think!
Rugby and I can keep up on the Maryland Dog Laws easily thanks to the Maryland Dog Federation. Hopefully your state has a similar organization!