City of Lawrence changes virtual meeting procedures in effort to make public comment easier
photo by: Nick Krug
The City of Lawrence is making changes to how it runs its online meetings in an effort to make public participation easier.
The Lawrence City Commission began holding virtual meetings in response to the coronavirus pandemic and adopted a resolution modifying meeting procedures in April. Under those regulations, the city encouraged residents who wanted to speak during general public comment or about a particular agenda item to submit their comments in writing, either via email or using a drop box at City Hall. Residents can also request to be part of the Zoom meeting, either online or by phone. Limited staff members are also in place at City Hall for the public to comment in person.
The commission recently approved a new resolution for meeting procedures in an effort to make virtual participation in meetings more accessible to the public. Previously, those wishing to provide live public comment as part of the commission’s Zoom meeting had to register with the City Clerk’s office at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.
A memo from city staff to the commission states that staff continues to review and recommend updates to the temporary meeting procedures, and that the changes were being made in an effort to provide the public the opportunity to participate in virtual meetings in the same manner as in-person meetings. Going forward, there will no longer be a requirement to register in advance of the meeting. Instead, a link to attend the virtual meeting will be provided in advance of the meeting through the city’s website. Individuals joining the virtual meeting will be allowed to comment on any item when public comment is sought.
The resolution states the changes will also apply to meetings of the city’s various advisory boards. For those boards, the relevant department director or the secretary of the board will publicize how to access the meeting online or by phone in advance of the virtual meeting.