Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rules on meetings

I am doing some research on State of Wisconsin meetings held for the public.

From our State site:

This is the part of the compliance that deals with citizens participation:

4. Citizen participation.
In general, the open meetings law grants citizens the right to attend and observe open session meetings of governmental bodies, but does not require a governmental body to allow members of the public to speak or actively participate in the body's meeting. Lundquist Correspondence, October 25, 2005. There are some other state statutes that require governmental bodies to hold public hearings on specified matters. See for example, Wis. Stat. § 65.90(4) (requiring public hearing before adoption of a municipal budget) and Wis. Stat. § 66.46(4)(a) (requiring public hearing before creation of a tax incremental finance district). Unless such a statute specifically
applies, however, a governmental body is free to determine for itself whether and to what extent it will allow citizen participation at its meetings. Zwieg Correspondence, July 13, 2006; Chiaverotti Correspondence, September 19, 2006.

Although it is not required, the open meetings law does permit a governmental body to set aside a portion of an open meeting as a public comment period. Wis. Stat. §§ 19.83(2) and 19.84(2). Such a period must be included on the meeting notice. During such a period, the body may receive information from the public and may discuss any matter raised by the public. If a member of the public raises a subject that does not appear on the meeting notice, however, it is advisable to limit the discussion of that subject and to defer any extensive deliberation
to a later meeting for which more specific notice can be given. In addition, the body may not take formal action on a subject raised in the public comment period, unless that subject is also identified in the meeting notice.

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