Texas lawmakers approved legislation during its last session in Austin addressing conduct in public meetings. Aransas County commissioners, at their regular meeting Monday, Aug. 26, approved Order #0-12-2019, Third Amended Rules of Procedure, Conduct, and Decorum, at Meetings of the Aransas County Commissioners’ Court.

The order incorporates the new state law that is effective Sept. 1.

Prior to the new state law, members of the public always had the right to speak during public hearings. Commissioners’ Courts have had the option to choose whether or not members of the public can address the court during a regular open meeting.

The new law states Commissioners’ Courts must allow time for all members of the public to speak. The court can, however, limit the amount of time allotted to the public.

The time limit for Aransas County is five minutes per person, with a maximum of 30 minutes allotted for public comment.

The second change provides additional language regarding how members of the public address the court. Commissioners’ Courts may continue to punish disruptions of meetings, or prohibit profanity, insulting or threatening language, and/or racial, ethnic or gender slurs.

The new added language states, “These rules do not prohibit public criticism of the Commissioners’ Court, including criticism of any act, omission, policy, procedure, program, or service.”

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