Oppose House and Senate Bills Mandating Public Comment

February 5, 2018

HB 1101 (Robinson) requires every public body, except for governing boards of public institutions of higher education, provide an opportunity for public comment during any open meeting. Although the bill states that if a public body holds more than four meetings each calendar year, such public body may, by recorded vote, limit the number of meetings at which an opportunity for public comment is afforded to four meetings per calendar year. This will still require all advisory work groups or other committees formed by local boards to take public comment.

A similar bill, HB 1247 (Cline), was struck from the docket. However, SB 336 (Peake), which is broader and more cumbersome, is flying through the Senate without opposition.

Action Required – Please contact your legislators to oppose these problematic bills.

HB 1101 will be heard Tuesday, February 6, in House General Laws Committee’s Subcommittee #4 and then on Thursday, February 8, by the House General Laws Committee.

SB 336 will likely come up tomorrow on the Senate floor for a vote. Please contact your Senators to oppose.

KEY POINTS

  • There are requirements for public hearing already in the code on a variety of issues from budget to zoning to tax rates that provide for public comment, thus HB 1101 is unnecessary.
  • The bill will lead to lengthier meetings and will require public comment in numerous advisory committees that don’t have authority to take action.
  • This bill has already gone to the FOIA Council, which did not recommend this concept.

KEY CONTACTS

House General Laws Committee’s Subcommittee #4: Hodges (Chairman), Fowler, Miyares, Leftwich, Davis, Carr, Hope, Murphy, Peace

House General Laws Committee: Peace (Chairman), Gilbert (Vice Chair), Wright, Knight, Helsel, Hodges, Bell, Richard P., Leftwich, Morefield, Davis, Fowler, Miyares, Ward, Bulova, Carr, Torian, McQuinn, Aird, Hope, Murphy, Price, Jones, J.C.

Senate of Virginia

VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, Esq., CAE

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