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Legislative Committee Meeting Minutes – August 11, 2023 – (Approved)

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11 AUGUST 2023


The Chair Commissioner Evan Baddour opened the meeting asking Commissioner Matt Rubelsky to offer a prayer and lead the pledge.  The minutes of 2 May 2023 were moved for approval by Commissioner Terry Jones, seconded by Commissioner Matt Rubelsky, and were approved unanimously.  After asking if there were any public comments, the Chair noted this meeting was to address potential changes to the Rules for the committees/full legislative body.


First Agenda Item – Revision to Rule I, which addresses flexibility to cancel unnecessary meetings when applicable.  Reason for revision was given as no options are currently mentioned in the Rules of Order .  Questions and/or comments were immediately raised on:  what was done during COVID (state allowed Zoom meetings); when changed from quarterly to monthly (to be more timely to school requirement that might be urgent); who or what determines importance (Chair gave an example of meeting with only two or three items); helps to come monthly; examples given when did not meet monthly; Committee Chair should decide for their committee (several commissioners commented that this was appropriate); The County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe said on the one called full commission that he, County Clerk, and Financial Manager make the decision on meetings (not a regular thing to have called meetings); if no urgency, maybe appropriate to postpone; cost of committee and full commission meetings (with mention of overtime for deputy attendance at full commission meetings); discussion on an example of school representation at a budget committee meeting (rather than first having a school committee meeting) was discussed; Rule changes require 2/3rd vote of the full commission body; suggest giving the Chair authority to cancel meeting; discussion on planning committee meetings (required by state to meet 10 times whether specific needs for a discussion are identified or not); suggest can’t miss two meetings in a row (don’t meet anyway in December so might have to wait more than two months to discuss an item).  A motion by Commissioner Terry Jones to approve a revision was made, but lacking a second failed.  General consensus – leave current rule as is.


Second Agenda Item – Revision addresses suspension of Rules during Full Commission to allow other elected officials or department heads to brief the commission on agenda-specific issues.  A motion by Commissioner Annelle Guthrie, seconded by Commissioner Evan Baddour, to approve the amendment was made.  In a proposed rule change suggested by the CE for the Commissioners, and based on his understanding about suspending the rules for elected officials or department heads that the Chairman may call upon those individuals at any time to brief the Commission on agenda business or answer commissioner questions without suspending the rules.  In that same proposal, the CE had noted that individual citizens making public comment shall be limited to five (5) minutes duration; any remaining time may not be transferred to another individual.  In keeping with that information, the motion was amended by Commissioner Evan Baddour, seconded by Commissioner Judy Pruett to add that any remaining time may not be transferred to another individual.  Motion was approved unanimously.


Third Agenda Item – Existing rules generally address only full Commission meetings.  This proposal is to consider committee meeting guidelines.  Commissioner Roger Reedy asked that this be included for committees:  Review agenda prior to public comments (either Chair or Secretary).  Charles (Chuck) Boggs  suggested that the public be allowed to make comments after each agenda item is discussed.  The Chair added it would be better for the public for them to have opportunity to speak following committee discussion and before we vote.   Commissioner Erin Curry, and the CE, noted it is difficult in a committee meeting to always identify who is on that particular committee.  Commissioner Curry suggested that at each meeting the committee members be identified.  Discussion followed on how public must register to speak, in committees, and that some former chairs have not been inclined to allowing public speaking during committee meetings.  A motion by Commissioner Joyce Woodard, and seconded by Commissioner Caleb Savage, and per Commissioner Woodard in keeping with allowing more input from the public before the vote is taken on each agenda item, the public may comment for no longer than 5 minutes.  The question was asked if this included the full commission.  Commissioner Matt Rubelsky asked if there had ever been an occasion when somebody was not able to speak, with several saying yes.  Both Commissioners Tracy Wilburn and David Wamble said there had not been a problem with the CE also saying has not been a problem.  The chair Evan Baddour questioned having public speak before each vote in the full commission meetings with concern over number of speakers (given the public may already speak at the start on the agenda items) and that it would conflict with Rule VII.  Commissioner Shelly Goolsby noted that the next elected group of commissioners may not want others to speak and that she sees this as guidance.  Commissioner Terry Jones noted that he was scared of the 5-minute limitation, in that in today’s meeting Chuck Boggs had spoken once but he might want to speak again.  Commissioner Terry Jones said he would never want to suppress the voice of the public.  Commissioner Caleb Savage said he believes the motion does the opposite using the word “allow” as an example.  Commissioner Savage withdrew his second to the above motion.  Commissioner Tracy Wilburn asked if this potential change had been run by CTAS.  The final motion by Commissioner Caleb Savage, and seconded by Commissioner Matt Rubelsky, was during the discussion portion of each motion during commission meetings, any member of the public may be allowed to speak once called upon by the chair, and no longer than five minutes per motion.  The motion was unanimously approved.


Fourth Agenda Item – proposed change on whether the full commission should approve any rules(s) created by the Agri Park committee, considering that the county is ultimately responsible for any litigation that might occur.  The discussion item was brought by Commissioner David Wamble due to his concerns about the county’s liability.  A motion by Commissioner Brad Butler (now sitting in for Matt Rubelsky) and seconded by Commissioner Joyce Woodard was made to approve the full commission approving rule changes created by the Agri Park Committee.  Commissioner Caleb Savage noted that from a legal standpoint, they can approve but the final decision rests with the Agri Park Board.  The CE noted that once established as a separate Board, the full commission’s control rests in determining county funding.  Commissioner Judy Pruett asked if they have a Board, doesn’t that eliminate county’s liability.  Commissioner Roger Reedy discussed how the New Canaan Ranch is structured, in particular that they have a lease to run their program.  Commissioner Caleb Savage mentioned that there is insurance by the event holders but if something else occurs, the county could be sued for that.  Commissioner Gayle Jones said the county pays per year $15K liability coverage and the property is a real asset to the county.  Commissioner Brad Butler said we are not getting rid of the park, but we can use the purse strings.  Discussion continued with a final motion that there be a joint meeting with the Agri Park Board and the Legislative Committee and have the County Attorney to provide suggestions on liability.  With there being no need for a motion to have a joint meeting, the discussion stood that a joint meeting would be scheduled.


Old business/New Business – none.


A motion by Commissioner Caleb Savage to adjourn was made, seconded by Commissioner Brad Butler, and was approved unanimously.


ATTENDEES:    Members of the Committee:  Chair Commissioner Evan Baddour, Commissioners:  Joyce Woodard, Terry Jones, Annelle Guthrie, Caleb Savage, Judy Pruett and Matt Rubelsky (Brad Butler attending after Matt’s departure) Other Commissioners in attendance:  Mathew Hopkins, Rose Brown, David Adams, Erin Curry, Shelly Goolsby, Gayle Jones, Dr. James Lathrop, Roger Reedy, Joseph Sutton, David Wamble, Tracy Wilburn, Tim Risner, Tammy Mathis Other Attendees: County Executive Graham Stowe, Former Commissioner Maurice Woodard, Chuck Boggs, Connie Howell and other members of the public