Normal To Loosen Public Comment Limits

Mar 17, 2017

The Illinois Attorney General has required some changes and suggested others to the Town of Normal Council meeting public comment rules.
Credit Staff / WGLT

The Normal Town Council will consider a new public comment policy to replace one the Illinois Attorney General has called illegal.

The Town currently prevents members of the public from addressing the council more than once every 45 days.

The Public Access Counselor for the Attorney General's Office said that violates the Open Meetings Act.

On the Council Agenda for Monday is a proposal to do away with the 45 day limit. The policy would require notice of the intention to speak at least two hours before the meeting.

The person asking for time also would also have to to specify which agenda item they will address.

The time limit would be three minutes per person instead of the current two minutes, and six minutes for an organization instead of five. There would be no more than 20 minutes total public comment time. if there is more demand for time than availability, a lottery would determine who speaks.

The Council has resisted easing restrictions in the past, taking the position that the time for public input is generally not at a council meeting, but before. The revised policy comes at the request of the council.

The Attorney General's office also suggested allowing public comment on topics not on the agenda, but the proposed policy does not change the requirement to have the comment relevant to the meeting.