Shreveport City Council Could Reduce the Public’s Voice at Meetings
The Shreveport City Council will be introducing a resolution to cut the amount of time the public has to speak at their meetings. The legislation is Resolution 36 of 2019, it will be officially introduced at today's (March 26) Shreveport City Council meeting. Unlike normal measures, this resolution would not have to layover for two weeks before a vote, it will be allowed to be voted on or final passage today.
Resolution 36 would cut the amount of time the public has to speak at meetings in half. Currently the public has the floor at the beginning and end of a City Council meeting, allowing the public to speak before votes are cast, and after votes are cast. Resolution 36 would cut out the second half of the public speaking time, and only allow for the public to comment at the beginning of the meeting.
Additionally, Resolution 36 would change what the public can speak about as well. Right now, the public can bring up any issues they feel necessary, as long as it's inside their allowed time. The new resolution would make it so the public can only speak on matters the City Council has put on their agenda, effectively controlling the content the public can speak on.
Here is a portion of the text on Resolution 36:
BACKGROUND INFORMATION The following revisions to Section 1 of City Council Rules of Procedure are being proposed: •
- All public comments, on any matter of public concern regardless of whether or not the item is on the Agenda, shall be made at the beginning of the meeting as opposed to have public comments both at the beginning and the end of the City Council meeting.
- Identify a placeholder on the Agenda for authorized Executive Sessions.
- Update reference in Consent Agenda regarding the reading of the titles of ordinances and resolutions for compliance with Open Meetings Law.
- Have the introduction of both 2-reader resolutions and any ordinance be accomplished with only a motion and a second for introduction.
- Provide some clarity on the appropriate times to address the City Council (pursuant to the outlined Agenda), and identify that a Citizen’s Request to Speak can be submitted on-line prior to the meeting.
- Allow the Chair or Vice-Chair to order the public comment forms and call the members of the public up to speak in any order he or she desires.
- Update 1.12 Withdrawal and removal of items on the City Council Agenda to distinguish between withdrawal of proposed ordinances & resolutions (either sponsored or not sponsored by a Councilmember), and appeals
The way this resolution is moving has caused a stir across social media in the Shreveport area as well. The fact that the measure will be introduced and potentially voted on in the same day has caused some negative responses from Shreveport residents.
You can see a short debate on the resolution from the March 25th City Council work session below. The conversation begins about 20:45: