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RULE §1.10Public Comment Procedures

(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 to make:

    (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 subsection; and

    (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 an interpreter will be given at least twice the amount of time as a member of the public who does not require the assistance of an interpreter in order to ensure that non-English speakers receive the same opportunity to address the Board.

Source Note: The provisions of this §1.10 adopted to be effective August 17, 2023, 48 TexReg 4390

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