Tulsa City Council Restores Pre-Pandemic Public Comment Rules
The Tulsa City Council voted at a special meeting on May 27 to restore its rules for public comments at Council meetings to pre-pandemic status in anticipation of a return to in-person meetings. As Governor Stitt terminated his Executive Order declaring a state of emergency due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the City Council’s ability to meet virtually expires at midnight on June 3 pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.
Individuals who wish to speak to the Council on an item that appears on the Regular 5 p.m. Council Agenda, must sign a Request to Speak form in-person at the meeting, providing their names and addresses, and indicating whether they support or oppose the item prior to the Council addressing that item. This restoration removes the ability to comment on agenda items via voicemail, email or webform.
The return to pre-pandemic comment rules also reinstates the ability for citizens to speak before the Council on any item affecting the City of Tulsa on the Regular 5 p.m. Council Agenda under Section 11, titled “Public Comments,” provided the following steps are taken:
• A topic for the comment must be submitted to the Secretary of the Council either in writing, by fax, email or via the Council’s website, along with all supporting materials, no later than 12:00 noon the preceding Thursday. The form can be found here, and can be submitted to the Secretary of the Council when completed.
• The topic should be brief, but specific enough to satisfy posting requirements under state law. The topic should be worded so an ordinary individual may understand what the topic is about (i.e. abbreviations, scientific words, etc. should be avoided).
• The language submitted by the citizen will be reviewed and, if necessary, revised to ensure compliance with the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.
• “Public Comments” are intended to provide citizens with an opportunity to address the Council on new issues affecting the City of Tulsa and are not intended to provide a forum for commercial, political or similar topics.
• A citizen shall be limited to two “Public Comments” items per meeting. A citizen may not re-submit a request on the same subject matter within 180 days from the preceding request.
• The business portion of the Council’s regular meeting shall be concluded immediately after the completion of “Hearing of Appeals.” No action shall be taken on matters raised or discussed during “Public Comments” other than possibly placing such matters on a future regular meeting or standing committee meeting of the Council.
• The Council may have representatives of the City appear and speak on topics raised during “Public Comments.”