Rules for Speaking Before the Columbus City Council
Unless otherwise noted on the schedule, Columbus City Council meets each Monday beginning at 5:00 p.m. Zoning meetings begin at 6:30pm. Hard copies of the agendas are available in the Office of the City Clerk generally by 3:00pm and on the City Council website generally by 4:00pm on the Thursday prior to a Monday City Council meeting.
The following rules shall apply to the general public when they wish to speak before Council at a scheduled Council meeting:
- Speakers slips must be filled out completely including name, address, organization represented, the ordinance number of the item to be addressed, if the individual will be speaking for or against the item, the subject if non-agenda and with any material or information to be distributed and filed with the city clerk prior to 5:00 p.m. on the day the speaker wishes to speak before the council. The council encourages individuals to submit written testimony and/or contact the appropriate committee chairperson to discuss their concerns. The council will not entertain incomplete speaker slips. Speakers slips addressing rezoning or variance requests must be submitted prior to 6:30 p.m. on the day the speaker wishes to speak before the council.
- For regular business meetings, individuals are permitted to submit a total of two (2) speakers slips. Of the two (2) slips, one may be used to address a non-agenda matter.
a) For agenda items, speakers must only speak to the ordinance indicated on the speaker slip submitted to the clerk. Council will entertain three (3) speakers for and three (3) speakers against any ordinance, recognizing speakers in the order the slips are received by the clerk. Each speaker will be given three (3) minutes to speak.
b) For non-agenda items there will be a limit of six (6) speakers taken in order of receipt of speaker slips with no more than three (3) speakers on any subject. Each speaker will be given three (3) minutes to speak. If the subject does not concern the legislative or administrative responsibilities of city government, the president of council may refer the speaker to another public forum and/or deny the request.
- For zoning meetings, speakers will be limited to three (3) three-minute speakers by the proponents, and three (3) three-minute speakers for the opponents for each ordinance.
- Speakers' subject matter will not contain obscenity, defamation or slander nor shall speakers conduct themselves in violation of the disorderly conduct or disturbing a lawful meeting provisions of Chapter 2317 of the Columbus City Codes, 1959. If the council president determines that these rules are not being followed one warning will be given. Speaker's conduct shall be subject to the right of the council president to preserve the order and decorum of the forum. If the rules continue to be violated after one warning, the council president may revoke the individual's speaking privileges.
- Speaker slips shall be presented to the president of council by the city clerk in the order received.
- Any variance or waiver of these rules shall be by a majority vote of council.
It is the policy of Columbus City Council that speaker slips must be delivered personally by the individual wishing to speak on the day of the meeting prior to 5:00 p.m. (6:30 p.m. for zoning items). Council staff members are not permitted to complete speaker slips for members of the public wishing to speak.
***NOTE: Speakers addressing City Council regarding legislation must direct their comments solely to the subject matter addressed in the legislation indicated on the speaker slip. Failure to do so will result in a warning from the Council President to return to the subject matter of the legislation. At the President’s discretion, a speaker may be excused from the podium or chambers for failure to comply with the President's warning or for repeated noncompliance with this requirement.***
Signs and banners are not permitted in Council Chambers. This prohibition does not apply to charts, diagrams, enlarged photographs or other demonstrative exhibits or visual media utilized by a speaker in presenting testimony to Council, subject to the provisions of Section 111.12, set forth above.