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Policy on Public Participation in Open Meetings

Adopted September 7, 2005

Items Not Specifically Posted in Advance

1. The Commission will include at every regular open meeting an item to provide the public with an opportunity to speak on any matter within the Commission’s jurisdiction that has not been specifically posted in advance for that open meeting.

a. The purpose of this item is to gather input from the public on matters within the jurisdiction of the Railroad Commission, particularly those matters for which there exists no other opportunity to provide input to the commissioners.

b. This item cannot be used to discuss a matter currently pending before the Commission, since ample opportunity for input is provided within the existing rules pertaining to pending matters. This includes pending contested cases, rulemaking proceedings, permit applications, and inspection and enforcement matters.

Items Specifically Posted in Advance

2. The Commission may request that parties or interested persons provide written or oral information or comment on any item specifically posted in advance.

a. In determining whether to permit or request comment or information on an item posted in advance, the Commission will consider whether:

 i. the information can be presented by some means other than orally (for instance, in writing);

 ii. the information would be useful to the commissioners; and/or

 iii. there have already been opportunities for the parties or the public to comment, or provide information under agency procedures (i.e., opportunities to request a hearing, participation in a hearing, previous opportunities for comment).

b. If the Commission permits or requests comment or information on an item posted in advance, persons wishing to speak must register on a form provided by the Commission. A person may not verbally request the opportunity to comment or provide information at that open meeting.

c. If the Commission permits or requests comment or information on an item posted in advance, the Commission may:

 i. impose reasonable time limits on each speaker;

 ii. limit or exclude unduly repetitious presentations; and/or

 iii. require that one representative present the information and position of closely aligned persons or entities.

3. The Commission will accept unsolicited comments from elected officials when they are acting in their official capacities.

4. The Commission may set deadlines for filing written comments or briefs on posted items.

5. In order to ensure that persons needing special equipment or assistance are provided with the equipment or assistance, persons who have a special request concerning the presentation of comments or oral argument should contact the secretary of the Commission at least 48 hours prior to the start of the open meeting. Failure to make such a request will not preclude a person from providing comment or oral argument. A special request includes:

a. presentation of video or audio recordings;

b. use of audio or visual aids; and/or

c. interpreters or other auxiliary aids, including accommodations for the disabled.

6. The Commission expects all persons attending its open meetings to observe the following guidelines concerning conduct and decorum:

a. Persons attending open meetings of the Commission shall conduct themselves with dignity, courtesy, and respect toward the Commission, agency staff, and other persons in attendance. The Commission will not tolerate disorderly conduct.

b. Disorderly conduct includes:

 i. loud talking in the audience;

 ii. addressing the Commission without being called upon; and

 iii. allowing cellular telephones, pagers, or other devices to operate in audible mode.

c. Persons attending a Commission open meeting may record all or any part of the open portion of the meeting by means of a tape recorder, video camera, or other means of audio or visual reproduction. Recording equipment shall be located so as not to impair the ability of:

  i. commissioners to see and hear persons addressing the Commission; and

 ii. persons attending the open meeting to see and hear the commissioners.