Public Comment Policy

This Public Comment Policy (the “Policy”) was adopted by the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County Ports (“Pilot Board”) on September 9, 2021 to provide reasonable rules regarding the public’s right to address the Pilot Board during open meetings to facilitate an efficient method of conducting such meetings while still protecting the rights of interested parties to be heard by the Pilot Board.

All meetings of the Pilot Board are open to the public in compliance with the Texas Open Meetings Law (“Public Meeting”), and the public has the right to speak on agenda items during the posted public comment period. It is the policy of the Pilot Board to encourage public comment relevant to agenda items at Public Meetings of the Pilot Board subject to the following rules and recommendations.

Advance Requests to Appear on the Agenda and Speak at a Public Meeting of the Pilot Board

Interested parties may request in advance to appear on the agenda and speak at a Public Meeting of the Pilot Board. Requests should be made to the office of the Executive Director of the Pilot Board, in person or by telephone, email, or facsimile. Such requests must be received no later than seven (7) days before the scheduled date of the Public Meeting for which the appearance is requested and must include: 

  • The Requestor’s name, organizational affiliation, contact information, and a brief, but clear, description of the subject matter of their comments as well as the time requested for the appearance. 

The Executive Director in consultation with the Chair of the Pilot Board has the right to determine whether the appearance of an interested party is placed on the agenda of a Public Meeting. The Pilot Board will notify requestors whether their appearance has been granted or denied along with the time being provided for their presentation. If a request to be added to the agenda is denied, the requestor will be allowed to speak during the Public Comment section of the Public Meeting as provided below. 

Speaking During the Posted Public Comment Period

Interested parties may speak at a Public Meeting of the Pilot Board by completing the sign-in sheet provided for the Public Meeting, which can be found near the entrance of the meeting room. Requestors should provide their name, organizational affiliation, and a brief description of the subject matter of the appearance.

The following time rules shall apply to all speakers during the posted public comment period:

  • Each speaker should identify himself/herself before providing his/her public comment.
  • Non-Agenda Speakers: A speaker whose subject matter does not relate to an agenda item is limited to one (1) minute speaking time, unless the Pilot Board extends the time limit.
  • Agenda Speakers: A speaker whose subject matter does relate to an agenda item is limited to three (3) minutes speaking time per agenda item, unless the Pilot Board extends the time limit.
  • Accommodations: Any person who requires a translator (either a foreign language translator or a sign language translator) will be given double these times. Any translator services will be provided by the speaker; the Pilot Board is not responsible for providing any translation services.
  • Any group or organization must select one representative to present its comments and the group as a whole will be subject to the above time limits.
  • The Executive Director will enforce and maintain the time limits. If the subject is not on the agenda, only statements of specific factual information, clarification, or recitation of existing policy in response to the non-agenda item or inquiry may be made by Commissioners. Commissioners may deliberate about placing the item on the agenda for another noticed meeting.
  • No portion of a speaker’s allotted time may be given (assigned, relinquished, donated) to another speaker.
  • No PowerPoint presentations or visual aids will be allowed during the general comment period. If a speaker has handouts for the Board members, he/she will need to provide twelve (12) copies.

Speaker Rules of Conduct:

  • Speakers will address their remarks to the entire Pilot Board, rather than to a specific member. Speakers are not allowed to address their remarks to the audience.
  • Speakers have the right to criticize policies, procedures, programs, and services, but speakers must stick to the time limits and stay on topic.
  • No outside placards, banners, signs, pennants, or flags shall be brought into the Pilot Board Chambers or in any other room in which the Pilot Board is meeting.
  • Speakers must be respectful and courteous to Pilot Board, staff, other speakers, and those in attendance at the meeting.
  • Speakers will not use profanity.
  • Behavior that fails to yield the floor when the speaker’s time is concluded; repeatedly interrupts a Pilot Board member; disturbs the order of the meeting; involves loud, threatening, hostile, abusive, vulgar or obscene language; or disrupts the Pilot Board meeting is prohibited.
  • Any speaker or audience member that violates these rules of conduct or engages in disruptive behavior may be subject to removal from the meeting.
  • The Board Chairperson or Executive Director will enforce these rules. A person’s failure or refusal to comply with an explicit request or order of the Board Chair or Executive Director to desist from disorderly conduct may violate the Texas Penal Code, Section 38.13, in which case the Board Chairperson or Executive Director may report such disorderly conduct to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.

The Chairperson may inquire whether any person wishes to speak on a topic that has not signed up before closing the Public Comment session. Such a person will be subject to the same time limits and rules of conduct.

Response by Pilot Board

The Pilot Board welcomes public input and will take public comment it receives at a meeting. The Pilot Board may ask questions and engage in dialogue about public comments regarding items duly noticed on the agenda. For public comments regarding items not on the agenda, the Texas Open Meetings Act (Tex. Gov. Code Ch. 551) prevent the Pilot Board from engaging in a dialogue, but allow the Pilot Board to provide statements of specific factual information, clarification, or recitation of existing policy in response to an inquiry. Any additional dialogue, discussion, or information will require the topic to be noticed for and placed on the agenda at a future meeting of the Pilot Board.