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Public Comment at Public Meetings Bill Passes Senate

The Senate has passed Representative Paul Baumbach’s House Bill 293S by a vote of 21-0. Shockingly, the bill requires that meetings of public bodies that are open to the public must provide an opportunity for public comment. I know, it is a novel idea.

Yes, I know, that means we have to hear the rantings of crazy racists and cultists and anti-vaxxers, but the only way we can know if our rights to free speech and participation in our government is to protect everyone’s rights to free speech and participation in our government.

So House Bill 293 requires that meetings of public bodies that are open to the public must provide an opportunity for public comment. The time for public comment may be limited if the limit is applied uniformly and public comment may be limited if it is irrelevant, immaterial, insubstantial, cumulative, or privileged.

Naturally, meetings of the General Assembly are excluded from the requirement to provide an opportunity for public comment because under § 9 of Art.. II of the Delaware Constitution, the rules of proceedings for legislative meetings are established by the Senate and House of Representatives of each General Assembly.

The General Assembly could do it (and of course public comment is available at most Committee Hearings), but such a requirement would only be applicable to the current session of the General Assembly. Each successive General Assembly makes their own rules of procedure.

House Bill 293 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Baumbach, Morrison, Wilson-Anton, Collins, Briggs King, M.Smith, YearickHouse Passes 38-0-3. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Freel Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton  Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Absent: Bolden, Mitchell, Yearick
Hansen, Pettyjohn, Lopez, WilsonSenate Passed 21-0. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson
Current Status: Sent to the Governor.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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