Public chapter 300 was approved in this last session of the General Assembly and takes effect on July 1, 2023. This new law requires that a governing body shall, for each public meeting, reserve a period to provide the public with the opportunity to comment on matters related to the items on the agenda for the meeting.
The commission, however, can put limitations on such comment, including (but not limited to):
- The governing body may put reasonable restrictions on the period for public comment, such as the length of the period, the number of speakers, and the length of time that each speaker will be allowed to provide comment.
- The governing body may require a person to give notice in advance of the desire to offer comments at a meeting.
- The governing body shall take all practicable steps to ensure that opposing viewpoints are represented fairly, if any.
Lastly, the statute requires that the notice for a public meeting shall indicate the way a person may indicate their desire to provide public comment at the meeting. In other words, the notice shall specify how the public can choose to convey their comments at the meeting, e.g., in writing, verbally, etc.
We would advise counties to address this new public chapter in the county legislative body’s meeting rules and procedures. It is important to remember that the subject of the public comments must be related to items on the agenda.
If you have any questions about this Public Chapter or procedures for public meetings, please reach out to your County Government Consultant.