New law allows more public input at local government meetings

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A new Texas law passed in the last legislative session is aiming to give the public more opportunities to speak at meetings held by local government bodies.

Before HB 2840, public comment was usually slated for a certain amount of time either before or after the meeting.

But now, people are allowed to speak throughout the duration of the meeting. The public is allowed to comment on items listed on the meeting’s agenda as they are discussed.

The new legislation is for all local government entities.

Political science professor Dave Rausch explained, “School board, special district, city council, county commission, county commissioner’s court. As long as it appears on the agenda, a person may sign in and speak on that issue,” Rausch said.

Rausch said this does have the potential of making the meetings a little bit longer.

The bill does allow each governmental body to make its own reasonable restrictions with this rule.

This could include rules that limit the total amount of time that a member of the public may address the body on a given item.

Another subsection of the bill says if there is a set time restriction, it must be doubled if the speaker needs a translator.

This ensures that non-English speakers receive the same opportunity to address the body.

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