New Texas law aims to promote democracy

Local News

Residents allowed to speak up anytime in governmental meetings

ODESSA, Texas (BIG2/FOX24) – A new Texas law will give more power back to the people. Residents are now allowed to speak up before, after, and during all governmental meetings.

“It amended the Texas Open Meetings Act to allow citizens and give the public the right to speak on agenda items, either before or during the meeting.” said City Attorney, Natasha Brooks. “To speak on behalf of the council, I think they would like to see more citizens involved with what’s going on.”

Brooks says the Odessa City Council has already been supporting this law.

“This is something that the city of Odessa has been doing for a long time,” explained Brooks. “The only thing we updated was our agenda in which we posted the language.”

It will also allow residents to criticize the actions of the council in open meetings. In addition, residents who need translation assistance will receive double the time to speak. However, the city can still set reasonable rules, such as a time period. Mayor Jerry Morales says Midland is joining the movement.

“It’s great. I mean, we want full transparency, and it’s an opportunity to make them feel comfortable to share on their ideas,” said Morales. “We the city council only know if they speak up.”

The Midland city council will now announce the residents’ new rights before the meeting and before every segment on the agenda. Morales says the city has also started to livestream all council meetings starting last month on their city website.

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