New rules for speaking

County Civil Attorney Daniel Ray, left, spoke before the Hunt County Commissioners Court Tuesday about new rules for how citizens can address the court.

The Hunt County Commissioners will get to hear more from their constituents during public meetings, under new rules adopted this week.

Hunt County Civil Attorney Daniel Ray spoke before the commissioners Tuesday, noting the court would have to change its procedure for how it speaks with residents wishing to address the panel.

“We can no longer stick with just the items people want to talk about,” Ray said.

The commissioners had long adopted a policy of allowing people to speak on items on regular session agendas which included a public hearing. More routine items, such as accounts payable votes, normally would not include the option for comment from anyone in the audience.

But Ray said the commissioners court was required to adopt a written policy related to public testimony, pursuant to Texas House Bill 2840, adopted earlier this year, to set reasonable rules concerning the public’s right to speak at an open meeting.

Ray said he recommended the Greenville City Council continue with its policy of allowing individuals to speak for up to three minutes during the “Citizens To Be Heard” portion of the agenda, which the commissioners also utilize, and then permitting up to two minutes on any specific agenda item.

“You have to let people speak as to any item they wish to discuss, but you have to set reasonable rules,” Ray said.

County Judge Bobby Stovall said the policy would allow citizen input, without causing meetings to be overly long.

“That way we would discuss items with them before we discuss them amongst ourselves,” Stovall said.

“The public hearings will continue exactly they way they have done in the past,” Ray said.

The measure passed on unanimous vote of the commissioners present.

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