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D. How can a participant assert rights to comment?

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  • Alabama

    Not specified.

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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

    Please see section A above.

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  • Arkansas

    If an agency allows for public comment, the participant should follow the rules of that agency concerning comments. The agency can establish local rules regarding participation, as long as the citizen has a reasonable opportunity to comment. Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 93-052.

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  • California

    Under both Acts, the body must give members of the public an opportunity to comment before or during the body's discussion or consideration of the agenda item. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 11125.7(a) (Bagley-Keene Act); 54954.3(a) (Brown Act). Under the Brown Act, the public must be given an opportunity to comment on any matter within the subject matter jurisdiction of the body, in addition to agenda items. Cal. Gov’t Code § 54954.3(a). Presumably, the body will invite public comment at the appropriate time, but if not, the participant could probably interrupt the meeting and request an opportunity to speak on the particular item, or on any matter within the subject matter of the legislative body.

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  • Colorado

    No provision in the Open Meetings Law addresses this issue. Unruly or indecorous conduct of the person seeking admittance is not advisable, since this will only give the public body legitimate grounds for exclusion.

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  • Connecticut

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

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  • Delaware

    Not specifically addressed, but presumably through active participation in open meetings.

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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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

    Simply submit written or oral testimony on any agenda item for public meetings and the board must accept it. Oahu Island Burial Council, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 03-22 (December 30, 2003).

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  • Idaho

    The Open Meeting Law does not provide for any particular method for asserting a right to comment. Individuals should be able to assert a right to comment by providing written notice prior to the meeting or by standing and asking for the opportunity to give public comment. It would also be prudent to ask that the request for comment be included in the meeting minutes.

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  • Illinois

    Review and comply with the rules of the public body, or simply ask to speak during the public comment period.

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  • Indiana

    There is no right to comment.

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  • Kansas

    There is no statutory right to comment.

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  • Kentucky

    There is no right to comment under the Open Meetings Act. 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. A person wishing to comment at a public meeting may consider contacting the public agency in advance to determine its policy.

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  • Louisiana

    In conformity with a public body's reasonable rules and regulations.

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  • Maine

    A person wishing to comment may request an opportunity to do so. Some public bodies will afford an opportunity to do so. Many bodies allow public comment as a routine agenda item, but not all.

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  • Montana

    If the right to participate is denied, an action can be brought in district court to set aside the agency's decision. The action must be brought within 30 days. Mont. Code Ann. § 2-3-114. A court may also award prospective relief ordering the agency to accept public comments.

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  • Nebraska

    No statutory guidance, although a public body may establish reasonable rules and regulations regarding how a participant asserts his or her rights to comment.

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  • Nevada

    A member of the public should sign up if a sign-up is provided before or during the meeting to speak or approach the podium during the public comment period.

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  • New Jersey

    The statute is silent.

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  • New Mexico

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.  Check the rules of the public body.

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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

    When a public body establishes an open forum for its citizens, the public body may establish any reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. 1998 OK AG 45.

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  • Oregon

    By so indicating to the meeting chair, often by signing a speaker’s card or attendance sheet.

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  • Pennsylvania

    Participants may assert that being improperly ejected or silenced at a public meeting constitutes a violation of the First Amendment. See Galena v. Leone, 638 F.3d 186 (3d Cir. 2011).

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  • Rhode Island

    No specific provision.

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  • South Carolina

    There is no formal procedure.

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  • South Dakota

    Presumably attend the meeting and give as much notice as possible of intention to comment.

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  • Tennessee

    Express desire to comment to the governing body.

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  • Texas

    As stated above, the Open Meetings Act does not actually provide the public a right to participate or comment at public meetings. Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. JC-0169 (2000).  Typically, the member of the public shows up at the meeting, fills out a card indicating they wish to address the body, and then is called upon when the comments section of the meeting is reached.  Id. Topics are usually entirely at the discretion of the speaker.  Id.

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  • Vermont

    Some boards allow public comment at the start of the meeting while others place it as the final agenda item.  Some boards allow public comment whenever anyone present has something to add to the discussion.  The chair of the board may establish reasonable rules to maintain order and reasonable limitations on the amount of time for each speaker are not unusual or improper.

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  • West Virginia

    A participant in a meeting subject to the Act may request to speak before the session begins. If a person is not permitted to comment at a meeting that is subject to the Act, while others are allowed to speak, with no comments by the public are permitted, the governing body may be in violation of the act and subject to a suit for declaratory indoor injunctive relief. W. Va. Code § 6-9A-6.

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  • Wisconsin

    This is not addressed in Wisconsin.

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