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B. Must a commenter give notice of intentions to comment?

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  • Alabama

    We know of no law requiring a commenter to give notice of his intentions to comment at a public meeting.

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  • Alaska

    The Open Meetings Act does not address a right to comment. Rights afforded by local government bodies are governed by the rules of those bodies.

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  • Arizona

    The OML does not contain any express provisions requiring a commenter to notify the public body of his intent to speak at a public meeting.  Members of the public body are prohibited from discussing or taking legal action on matters brought up during an open call unless those matters were properly noticed on the meeting agenda.  See A.R.S. §38-431.01(H).  At the conclusion of the open call, however, “individual members of the public body may respond to criticism made by those who have addressed the public body, may ask staff to review a matter or may ask that a matter be put on a future agenda.”  Id.

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  • Arkansas

    Whenever a citizen has a statutory right to participate in a meeting, the agency can establish local rules regarding comments, as long as the citizen has a reasonable opportunity to participate. Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. Nos. 93-299, 93-052.

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  • California

    Neither Act requires a commenter to give notice of an intention to comment. However, a body may impose reasonable regulations to ensure an orderly meeting. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 11125.7(b) (Bagley-Keene Act); 54954.3(b) (Brown Act).

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  • Colorado

    No provision in the Open Meetings Law addresses this issue.

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  • Connecticut

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Delaware

    Not addressed.

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Florida

    There is no requirement that a commenter give notice of intentions to comment where the commenter has a right to comment.

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  • Georgia

    Georgia county commissions and city councils and like bodies, e.g., school boards, typically have rules affording a limited right of public comment at meetings. See, e.g., Cardinale v. City of Atlanta, 290 Ga. 521, 522, 722 S.E.2d 732, 734 (2012) (noting the existence of rules governing public comment at Atlanta city council meetings). The state’s Open Meetings Act does not address the issue of public comment.

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  • Hawaii

    No. Registering to testify is not required. The law requires that all interested persons be afforded an opportunity to present oral testimony. OIP Op. Ltr. No. 01-06 (December 31, 2001).

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  • Idaho

    Generally the governing body will ask for persons to sign a list of persons seeking to comment upon particular agenda items. The Open Meeting Law does not address such an issue, however.

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  • Illinois

    Many public bodies require a statement of intent to comment be filed with the clerk or secretary of the body.

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  • Indiana

    There is no right to comment, so no notice is required.

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  • Kansas

    There is no statutory right to comment.

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  • Kentucky

    No provision in the Open Meetings Act concerns public comment at meetings. Some public agencies allow public comment during designated portions of public meetings, and some of those agencies require members of the public to sign in or otherwise give advance notice of their desire to make comments.

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  • Louisiana

    Only as may be specified by a public body's reasonable rules and regulations.

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  • Maine

    Generally, no, but some bodies will ask for advance notice to schedule time for public comment or to set time limits on comment.

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  • Minnesota

    There are no requirements to do so under the statute. Each public body may establish its own rules regarding procedure.

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  • Mississippi

    Public body may make rules and regulations regarding those attending public meeting. § 25-41-9.

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  • Montana

    Public bodies do not generally require commenters to give notice of their intentions, but there are no cases addressing whether such a requirement would be permissible.

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  • Nebraska

    No statutory requirement to give notice of intentions to comment, although an individual public body may make and enforce reasonable rules and regulations regarding the conduct of citizens attending or speaking at the meeting, which, if reasonable, may include the requirement that the commentator give notice of intention to comment. Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-1412(2).

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  • Nevada

    No. See Nevada OMLO 99-11 where the Attorney General noted that a practice of requiring persons to sign up three and one-half hours in advance to speak at a public meeting can have the effect of unnecessarily restricting public comment.

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  • New Jersey

    There is no statutory requirement but there may be a local bylaw of the public body requiring such notice.

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  • New Mexico

    No statutory right to speak.  Most public bodies maintain an informal list of persons who want to speak.  Call in advance and ask about any formal or informal rules or lists.

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  • North Carolina

    There is no provision in the Open Meetings Law. Each statute providing a right of public comment has its own provisions. See Section V.A. above.

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  • Ohio

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue (not applicable).

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  • Oklahoma

    There are no specific rules on this issue. However, once a public body voluntarily establishes an open forum, it may establish the conditions and restrictions on such speech subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. 1998 OK AG 45.

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  • Oregon

    No, unless a sign-up mechanism is utilized.

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  • Rhode Island

    No specific provision.

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  • South Carolina

    The requirements would vary with the rules of the particular public body. Some public bodies require citizens to request a position on the agenda in order to address the body, while others merely have a sign-in sheet for a public comment period.

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  • South Dakota

    Uncertain. Likely will be a matter of chair discretion or the rule of a particular public body.

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  • Tennessee

    Act does not address.

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  • Texas

    A commenter does not have to give notice of an intention to comment. Tex. Gov’t Code § 551.042; see also Peavy v. Dallas Indep. School Dist., 57 F. Supp. 2d 382, 393 (N.D. Tex. 1999) (President of school district board of trustees did not violate Texas Open Meetings Act by allowing transcript of trustee's telephone conversation, containing controversial and offensive comments, to be read during report period of school district meeting, where board had long established practice of allowing trustees to make reports, even though issue was not specifically listed on meeting's agenda); and Op. Tex. Att’y Gen. No. JC-0169 (2000) (“‘Public comment’ provides sufficient notice under the Open Meetings Act of the subject matter of ‘public comment’ sessions where the general public addresses the governmental body about its concerns and where the governmental body does not comment or deliberate except as authorized by [S]ection 551.042 of the Government Code.”).

    If a member of the public inquires about a subject for which notice was not given, the governmental body may respond with specific factual information or provide information on the current policy in response to the inquiry without violating the notice provisions of the Open Meetings Act. Tex. Gov’t Code § 551.042. Any other discussion, deliberation, or decision regarding the subject matter will be limited to a proposal to place the subject on the agenda for another meeting. Id. § 551.042; Hays City Water Planning P'ship v. Hays Cnty., Tex., 41 S.W.3d 174, 181 (Tex. App.—Austin 2001, pet. denied).

     

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  • Vermont

    Not addressed.

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  • West Virginia

    As noted above, a governing body may require those persons who wish to speak to register no more than fifteen minutes prior to the start of a scheduled meeting.

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  • Wisconsin

    Commenters do not have to give notice, but the government is not required to permit comment.

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  • Wyoming

    No, but the commenter may be required to provide his/her name.

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