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Huntsville City Council passes amendments to bylaws, adjust public comment procedures, delays voting on changes to HPCAC

The Huntsville City Council is set to discuss changes to public comment procedures and the HPCAC. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — UPDATE 8:40 p.m.: The Huntsville City Council passed changes to the council's bylaws regarding public comments with several amendments to the original ordinance by a vote of 4 to 1. Councilmembers Jennie Robinson, Frances Akridge, John Meredith and Devyn Keith voted to approve the ordinance. Councilman Bill Kling voted against the ordinance.

Councilwoman Frances Akridge proposed an amendment to how residents can sign up to give public comments at council meetings. Those who wish to speak at the initial public comment section will be able to sign up by contacting the city council offices and will not be limited to signing a roster in the hour prior to the meeting. This amendment was approved.

Councilman Devyn Keith proposed an amendment to the ordinance to delay the implementation of changes to public comments until the council meeting scheduled for October 14. This amendment was approved.

Councilwoman Frances Akridge also proposed an amendment to how speakers will address the council. The amendment reads: "The speaker shall use this time to offer opinions, concerns or ideas about city matters. Council members shall listen without engaging in dialogue. Appointments to engage in dialogue will be honored. Speakers shall refrain from making comments regarding the good name and character of any individuals." This amendment was proposed regarding both the initial and second public comment sections. This amendment was approved.

Regarding amendments to the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Committee, Councilwoman Frances Akridge moved to postpone voting to adopt the ordinance until the council meeting scheduled for July 22.

ORIGINAL STORY: 

At the Huntsville City Council regular meeting on July 8, members are set to discuss changes to the city code, including stricter public comment procedures and changes to the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Committee (HPCAC).

The regular council meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Click here to watch the meeting.

Public Comment Proposed Changes | Meeting Agenda Item 13.a

These proposed changes involved public comments on agenda and non-agenda items at Huntsville City Council meetings. The proposed changes to Divisions I and II of Article III of the Huntsville City Code would limit the kinds of comments that will be able to be made during the first comment period of a meeting. According to the proposed changes, the public will only be allowed to make comments regarding items listed on the published City Council agenda during this period.

The second public comment period at the end of meetings would still allow for comments to be made outside the scope of the agenda. 

The current language of the Huntsville City Code allows for comments to be made on topics both on and off the agenda during both public comment periods.

Furthermore, the proposed changes would change when registration for public comments takes place. For the initial public comment period, residents would be required to register in the hour immediately before the meeting; for the second public comment period, residents would be required to sign a second roster sheet prior to the end of new business items being introduced.

As of July 8, residents are simply required to sign the roster prior to the beginning of the meeting for the first public comment section and are required to sign a second public comment roster during the meeting for the second public comment section.

Should Agenda Item 13.a be adopted, it would become effective immediately.

Prior to the July 8 council meeting, the City and Council President Jennie Robinson, District 3, issued a statement with the hopes of clarifying the proposed changes.

“As the City changes, the Council must ensure its bylaws meet the community’s needs while letting the Council conduct business effectively,” Robinson said. 

Robinson went on to say that the changes will make it easier for the public to follow along and will increase transparency. She said these changes would allow City employees to leave once their agenda items have been addressed by the council.

“Some of our employees live outside the City limits and arrive at work by 6 a.m. or even earlier,” Robinson said. “Ensuring a healthy work-life balance enables them to continue serving our citizens to the best of their ability.”

According to the City, these changes do not intend to restrict the public from commenting on agenda and non-agenda items.

These proposed changes were introduced at the June 24 City Council meeting.

Proposed Changes to HPCAC | Agenda Item 13.f

Agenda Item 13.f, sponsored by council members Frances Akridge, District 2, and Bill Kling, District 4, aims to codify several changes to HPCAC, including expanding the number of members from 10 to 13.

RELATED: Huntsville officials expand response to the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council report

This proposal also includes changes to HPCAC's purpose, role, responsibilities, membership, meetings, attendance and resignation procedures, and the duties of HPCAC officers.

For more in-depth information on the proposed changes to HPCAC, check out our previous WZDX Huntsville City Council Coverage.

These proposed changes were introduced at the June 24 City Council meeting.

RELATED: Huntsville City Council to propose expanding number of HPCAC members among other changes

The Huntsville City Council meeting can be watched on www.rocketcitynow.com or the City's Facebook page or website.

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