|(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to establish
procedures for hearing public comment at Governing Board meetings
open to the public held by the Texas Department of Housing and Community
Affairs in accordance with §2306.032(f) and §2306.066(d)
of the Tex. Gov't Code.
(b) Procedures for taking public comment.
(1) At each meeting open to the public the Governing
Board (Board) shall provide opportunity for members of the public
(A) General public comment after the Board has taken
action on all posted agenda items on which it intends to take action,
general public comment on matters of relevance to the Department's
business, or requests that the Board place specific items on future
agendas for consideration. It is the prerogative of the Board Chair
to place reasonable limits on public comment. Handouts of printed
materials are permitted only as provided for in paragraph (6) of this
(B) Specific public comment on each posted agenda item
after the presentation made by Department staff and motions made by
the Board. For purposes of this rule, the Board may consider the staff's
presentation to be staff's written presentation in the Board's meeting
book posted on the Department's website, or additional printed materials
only as provided for in paragraph (6) of this subsection.
(2) The opportunity for general public comment under
paragraph (1)(A) of this subsection may not be used to advocate for
or against any specific action relating to any posted item or for
or against any pending application. The opportunity for any such testimony
is to be limited to the appointed time when action on such matter
is requested to be formally considered as a posted agenda item as
described in paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection.
(3) At the time general or specific public comment
is taken, speakers should be prepared to come promptly to the podium
or other place designated for speakers. They may, if they wish, agree
among themselves on an order in which they will speak, or this may
be directed by the Board Chair. If a large number of speakers wish
to testify, the Chair may, in his or her reasonable discretion, establish
appropriate limits on the total amount of time to be devoted to testimony
on any given item or items. As each individual speaker begins his
or her testimony, they must state on the record their name and on
whose behalf they are speaking, and sign in on a sheet provided by
staff to indicate the correct spelling of their name and on whose
behalf they are speaking.
(4) Individuals present at the meeting, who wish to
register their position for or against a posted agenda item, but do
not wish to speak, may do so by submitting a comment registration
form with the secretary of the meeting, or another person designated
by the Board Chair. The comment registration form, must state the
commenter's name, whom they represent, the action item to which their
comment relates, their position, and must be signed by the commenter.
At the end of the public comment on the item the Board Chair will
have registered positions for and against read into the record. It
is the Board Chair's discretion to determine if similar comments submitted
are aggregated and reported as a total number providing their position,
as opposed to reading all names into the record.
(5) Additional limits on public comment.
(A) The Board Chair, in her/his sole discretion, may
additionally limit the number and length of presentations of public
comment, both general and specific, at any time during a meeting based
on a consideration of:
(i) the number of persons wishing to give public comment;
(ii) the number of agenda items to be heard;
(iii) the time available for the meeting; and
(iv) the risk of losing a quorum of Board members.
(B) If the Board Chair limits presentations, she or
he will not limit them in a manner that inappropriately favors a particular
point of view.
(C) The Board Chair may, in her or his reasonable discretion,
grant deference to elected officials and other persons who have traveled
great distances. Deference to elected officials may include, but is
not limited to reading letters from elected officials to the Board
into the record.
(6) Presenting printed materials. An individual providing
testimony to the Board may provide printed materials only if they
are provided as outlined in subparagraphs (A) - (C) of this paragraph:
(A) In order to ensure that members of the Board and
the public are given an opportunity to review any such materials,
they must be provided to the Department staff not less than five business
days prior to the meeting at which they are to be. This is to enable
staff to post them on the Department's website not later than the
third day before the date of the meeting, as provided for in Tex.
Gov't Code §2306.032(c). They must be made available in Adobe
Acrobat (pdf) electronic format;
(B) Department staff will post such materials to the
Department's website no later than the third day before the meeting
at which they are to be used;
(C) In exceptional circumstances the Board Chair may,
in her/his sole discretion, and only after giving Board members an
opportunity to object, allow materials to be provided at a meeting
in hard copy format provided:
(i) they are delivered to staff prior to the start
of the meeting so that staff may log in the materials and the Board
Chair may review for acceptance under this subsection. Materials may
not be handed directly by the public to a Board member on the dais;
(ii) they are not so voluminous as to cause inordinate
delay while members of the Board and public review them;
(iii) they are provided in hard copy format to all
members of the public in attendance;
(iv) they are also provided to staff in Adobe Acrobat
(pdf) format for inclusion in the electronic records of Board materials
available to the public via the Department's website; and
(v) if the materials involve large size photos, maps,
charts, or other information to be displayed for the Board, an identical
copy must be displayed to the public attendees.
(D) Persons seeking allowance of written materials
under paragraph (6)(C) of this subsection should be aware that their
proffered materials may be disallowed, and they should always be prepared
to proceed with a verbal presentation within the time constraints
for public speaking at Board meetings.
(E) If materials submitted relate to a competitive
Application under any Department program, including Chapters 11 and
13 of this title (relating to Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) and
Multifamily Direct Loan Rule, respectively), such materials provided
under either subparagraphs (A) or (C) of this paragraph may be prohibited
from presentation to the Board under applicable rules or statute.
(c) To the extent that subsection (b) of this section,
or the Board Chair, place limitations on the amount of time that a
member of the public may address the Board, a member of the public
who addresses the Board through a translator will be given at least
twice the amount of time as a member of the public who does not require
the assistance of a translator in order to ensure that non-English
speakers receive the same opportunity to address the Board.