ANOTHER OPINION: Take care revising Nevada Open Meeting Law
May 5, 2011
This editorial originally appeared in The Record-Courier:
If you had to pick a place where there are more government meetings per capita, it would be Douglas County.
That’s why a proposal like Assembly Bill 257, which would revise the public comment requirements in the Nevada Open Meeting Law, is of particular interest here.
At present, all public meetings in Nevada are required to agendize a period for public comment at some point.
In practice, that period has been placed at the front, at the back and even during the middle of meetings.
Under AB257 the public would be given “at least two periods devoted to comment by the general public.” One of those would be at the beginning of the meeting and another at the adjournment of the meeting. The bill passed the Assembly and is now making its way through the Senate.
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Before it was amended in the Assembly, the bill would have allowed public comment for any action item, which is close to how board chairmen run most meetings in Douglas County. We know for a fact that for the vast majority of boards and items, allowing public comment for a specific item is met with the chirping of crickets.
But the more important the agenda item is to residents, the more people turn out to speak at the board meeting.
If the amendment to the bill is interpreted as moving all comment into the two periods and away from the items of interest, than we believe this bill should be defeated.