MADISON, Ala. – Changes could soon be coming to the way members of the public are allowed to make comments at Madison City Council meetings.
The council discussed a resolution to update the procedures for accepting public comments at a work session last week. Under current council rules, members of the public have the option to sign up to speak at the meeting ahead of time, or to speak at the meeting without pre-registering. People who sign up ahead of time are given five minutes to speak while people who do not sign up are given three minutes.
Under the proposed resolution, all members of the public who wish to speak at city council meetings would be required to sign up before the meeting.
The city is planning to roll out a text message service that will allow members of the public to speak at the meeting and reserve their spot in line. However, people who do not wish to use the text message service can sign up to speak using physical cards at the city council meeting.
The proposed resolution would also require anyone who wishes to record the meeting to notify city officials by noon on the day of the meeting. Alabama’s Open Records Act requires municipalities to allow open recording of meetings, but the governing body is allowed to set rules regarding how the recording can be done. Madison city leaders say by being notified that someone plans to record the meeting ahead of time, they can better protect minor’s privacy.
Currently, the City of Madison live streams city council meetings on their YouTube channel and on their public access channel. The recordings of those meetings are left up on their YouTube channel for 2 weeks, but then they are deleted. Officials say the reasoning is to make sure that members of the public aren’t getting outdated information.
The Madison City Council is set to vote on the resolution on September 13th.