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RULES OF PROCEDURE, CONDUCT AND DECORUM
AT MEETINGS OF
FORT BEND COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT
I. All Regular, Special, Emergency and Executive Session Meetings of the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court will be called and conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act, Chapter 551, Government Code.
II. Regular, Special and Emergency Meetings of the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court are open to the public and to representatives of the press and media. Executive Sessions of the Commissioners Court are not open to the public, the press or the media and only those individuals expressly requested or ordered to be present are allowed to attend Executive Sessions.
III. The Fort Bend County Commissioners Court generally meets in Regular Session on the first, second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. In order for a matter or issue to appear as an agenda item on the Agenda of any Regular Meeting of the Commissioners Court, a request must be filed with and approved by at least the County Judge or one Commissioner by 2:00 p.m. on the Wednesday immediately preceding the next Regular Meeting of the Commissioners Court.
IV. The business of Fort Bend County is conducted by and between the members of the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court and by those members of the county staff, elected officials, department heads, consultants, experts and/or members of the public requested to be present and participate. While the general public is invited to attend all meetings of the Commissioners Court (except Executive Sessions) the public's participation therein is limited to that of observers unless a member (or members) of the public is requested to address the Commissioners Court on a particular issue (or issues) or unless the member (or members) of the public completes a Public Participation Form on an agenda item and submits the same to the County Clerk prior to the time the Court convenes the meeting. A sample of the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court Public Participation Form is attached hereto as Exhibit "A".
A. Each member of the public who appears before the Commissioners Court shall be limited to a maximum of three (3) minutes to make his/her remarks. Time for each speaker shall be maintained by the County Clerk or such other person designated by the Commissioners Court.
B. Maximum discussion on any agenda, regardless of the number of members of the public wishing to address the Commissioners Court shall be limited to thirty (30) minutes. In the event that more than six (6) members of the public wish to address the court on a particular agenda item (or items), then no more than six (6) members of the public shall be recognized to speak and that number shall be divided equally between those members of the public wishing to speak for the agenda item (or items) and those members of the public wishing to speak against the agenda item (or items), with speakers selected in the order received by the court.
C. In matters of exceptional interest to the Court, the Court may, by the majority vote of the members of the Court in attendance at the meeting, shorten or lengthen the time allocated for comments from the public and/or the amount of time allocated for all agenda items and/or a specific agenda item.
D. It is the intention of the Court to provide an opportunity to the citizens of Fort Bend County to address the Commissioners Court and to express themselves on issues of county government. Members of the public are reminded that the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court is a Constitutional Court, with both judicial and legislative powers, created under Article V, Section 1 and Section 18 of the Texas Constitution. As a Constitutional Court, the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court also possesses the power to issue a Contempt of Court Citation under Section 81.024 of the Texas Local Government Code. Accordingly, all members of the public in attendance at any Regular, Special and/or Emergency meeting of the Court shall conduct themselves with proper respect and decorum in speaking to, and/or addressing the Court; in participating in public discussions before the Court; and in all actions in the presence of the Court. Proper attire for men, women and children is mandatory. Those members of the public who are inappropriately attired and/or who do not conduct themselves in an orderly and appropriate manner will be ordered to leave the meeting. Refusal to abide by the Court's order and/or continued disruption of the meeting may result in a Contempt of Court Citation.
E. It is not the intention of the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court to provide a public forum for discussion of non-agenda matters, nor for the demeaning of any individual or group. Neither is it the intention of the Court to allow a member (or members) of the public to insult the honesty and/or integrity of the Court, as a body, or any member or members of the Court, individually or collectively. Accordingly, profane, insulting or threatening language directed toward the Court and/or any person in the Court's presence and/or racial, ethnic, or gender slurs or epithets will not be tolerated. Violation of these rules may result in the following sanctions:
Cancellation of a speaker's remaining time;
Removal from the Commissioners Courtroom;
A Contempt Citation; and/or
Such other civil and/or criminal sanctions as may be authorized under the Constitution, Statutes and Codes of the State of Texas.
V. The County Judge is the presiding officer of the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court and is a fully participating member thereof. In the event of the absence of the County Judge, the senior member of the Commissioners Court (in terms of total number of years as an elected member of Commissioners Court) present at the Regular, Special, Emergency meeting or Executive Session, shall serve as the Judge Pro-Tem of the Court. However, nothing herein shall prevent the senior member of this Commissioners Court from delegating this duty to another member of the Commissioners Court.
VI. The County Judge (or the designated Judge Pro-Tem of the Commissioners Court), as presiding officer of the Commissioners Court, is responsible for conducting all meetings and members of the public who have properly completed a Public Participation Form and submitted same to the County Clerk must wait to be recognized before they will be allowed to address the Court.
VII. Special rules for the press and media:
A. No media personnel or equipment, including lights, cameras or microphones will be located in the Commissioners Court in a manner that would obstruct the view or hearing of any attendees in the audience, and, in no event, will personnel or equipment be placed closer than 6 feet from the bench.
B. Reporters and media technicians are required to structure their movements, equipment set-up, take-down and adjustments, etc., in such a manner as to not disrupt the Commissioners Court deliberations or the ability of the public to see, hear, and participate in the proceedings.
C. Media Interviews shall not be conducted inside the Commissioners Courtroom during the time the Court is in session.
D. Media interviews which are conducted outside the Commissioners Courtroom should be conducted in such a manner that the interview does not disturb, impede or disrupt the proceedings of any regular, special, or emergency and/or executive session of the Court.
VIII. The Sheriff of Fort Bend County, Texas, or his designated deputy, shall serve as the bailiff at all regular, special, and emergency meetings of the Court. However, in the event of the absence of the Sheriff, or in the event that there exists a conflict of interest between the Sheriff, any member of the Sheriff’s Office, and the Commissioners Court, or in the event of an Executive Session of the Court in which the Sheriff is not an authorized participant, then in such event, the Court shall appoint such other commissioned peace officer to serve as bailiff as may be necessary.
IX. From time to time, the Commissioners Court shall conduct town meetings and public hearings.
These rules of procedure, conduct and decorum shall also apply to such town meetings and public hearings; however, the Commissioners Court may adopt such additional and supplemental rules for such meetings and hearings as may be necessary and appropriate to conduct such meetings and hearings in accordance with State Law in an orderly, efficient and proper manner.
X. These Rules of Procedure, Conduct and Decorum at Meetings of the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court shall be effective immediately upon adoption by the Court and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or repealed by a majority vote of the Commissioners Court.