Public comment bill passed comm. on to floor

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Public comment bill passed comm. on to floor

A bill potentially conflicting school board policy on public comment during meetings reached the Senate floor.


Senate Local Government committee members passed House Bill 1172, which revises certain provisions regarding meetings of certain public bodies, on a 4-2 vote in a hearing that stretched over two meetings.


HB 1172 requires school boards – and other political subdivisions – to provide public comment at a meeting with the time provided limited at the chair’s discretion.


ASBSD opposes the bill with Director of Policy and Legal Services Gerry Kaufman citing many districts currently have a policy in place that deals with public comment.


School board policies have the full force and effect of law,” Kaufman testified during the committee’s review last week (2/28).


“They are the rules that are to be followed.”


Rep. Elizabeth May, the bill’s prime sponsor, said the impetus of the bill was her attendance of school board meeting in her legislative district where the board did not take public comment. She said the bill would put in “some kind of universal plan for public meetings” as it relates to public comment.


Kaufman noted the detrimental effect the bill would have on local control.


“It gives the state legislature control over a local governmental meeting,” Kaufman testified during Monday’s (3/5) meeting. “It takes the control away from the locally elected governing board.”


A sentiment echoed by Sen. Bob Ewing.


“I do think it takes local control away to an extent,” Sen. Ewing said. “The situation was an isolated event that doesn’t normally happen.”


HB 1172 now heads to the Senate floor for review.


For updates, check the ASBSD Blog, Bill Tracker page, Twitter feed and Facebook page.

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