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Meeting Protocol

Commission Meeting Protocol

Meetings of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission) are subject to Florida Sunshine Laws.  This protocol is designed to guide the Chair of the Commission in conducting public workshops and meetings of the Commission.

Notice and Agenda of Commission meetings

There shall be at least seven days’ notice of any public meeting, hearing, or workshop by publication in the Florida Administrative Register.  There shall be an agenda which specifies the items to be considered at the meeting, hearing, or workshop.  Draft agendas may be posted on the Commission website at staff discretion, but the final agenda shall be posted at least seven days in advance of the meeting.  The Chair shall announce specific changes in the final agenda at the beginning of the noticed meeting.  The Commission staff shall post all Commission Meeting notices, agendas and, to the extent practicable, background information on its website in advance of the meeting.

A quorum for any Commission meeting at which official agency action will be taken is a majority of the full membership of the Commission, which is four members.

Any matter brought before the Commission for official action shall be done by motion.  The steps by which a motion is brought before the Commission and acted upon are as follows:

  1. A Commissioner makes a motion.
  2. Another Commissioner must second the motion or the motion fails.
  3. The Chair opens the motion to discussion.
  4. The Chair puts the motion to a vote (generally, the Chair should ask for affirmative and negative votes, but on minor or noncontroversial motions, may ask for only a negative vote.)
  5. The Chair announces the result of the vote.

Commissioners, employees and agency partners shall comply with the following procedures for obtaining the floor:

  1. Before any Commissioner, employee, or agency partner may make a motion or speak, he or she must obtain the floor, that is, be formally recognized by the Chair.  Once recognized by the Chair, that person has the exclusive right to be heard at that time.  Employees and agency partners assigned the floor shall approach the podium.
  2. Only the Chair may assign the floor.  Other Commissioners, employees, or agency partners shall not assign the floor.  For the purposes of receiving public comment, the Chair traditionally delegates the assignment of the floor to the Vice Chair.
  3. Anyone recognized by the Chair shall speak only at the microphone to assure that their remarks may be heard and for the preservation of the remarks in the audio recording and meeting minutes.
  4. Anyone not recognized by the Chair who speaks while another person has the floor is out of order.

Under Florida law, the need to receive and consider public comment may be balanced with the equally important need for orderly meetings with full deliberation by Commissioners.  Public comment shall follow the guidelines below:

  1. Any member of the public who wishes to address the Commission must register their information with FWC staff upon entry to the meeting.
  2. When a large number of people wish to speak, the Chair may limit the time for each speaker or the time allotted to public comment on specific agenda items in order to ensure that speakers are heard within the time allotted for the meeting.
  3. Speakers shall refrain from repeating comments from previous members of the public.  Speakers may waive in support of a position.

In order to ensure meaningful and orderly public comment at the Commission meeting, the following guidelines shall be implemented:

  1. Public comment will be taken immediately after staff presentation of each item appearing on the "Items Requiring Action" portion of the agenda.  After hearing public comment on an item, the Commissioners shall take appropriate action on the issue and then move to the next item.  Based upon the Chair’s discretion, the Commission may allow for public comment on other agenda items not requiring action, such as staff reports.
  2. Commission staff will manage the list of registered speakers during the public meeting.  The list will indicate which item the speaker wishes to comment on and the name of their organization, if applicable.  Consistent with the order of the meeting agenda items, the Vice Chair shall announce each speaker.
  3. It is the Chair’s prerogative to establish a time limit for individual speakers.  It is standard to allow three minutes for individual speakers.  However, the Chair may modify the amount of time based on relevant factors, including, total number of registered speakers and a time certain adjournment for the meeting.  If the Chair has imposed a time limit for individual speakers, that time limit shall be applied uniformly and each speaker will be allowed to speak up to the designated amount of time imposed by the Chair.  The Chair may impose a time limit for all public comment on any specific agenda item in order to ensure that speakers are provided an opportunity to speak within the time allotted for the Commission meeting.  The Chair will announce any alternative time limits prior to the public comment period.
  4. The Commission may use such timing devices as may be practicable to ensure that all speakers stay within the time limit.
  5. The "Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda" portion of the Commission meeting agenda will be held on only one of the days of the Commission Meeting and reserved for public comments concerning items that do not appear on the meeting agenda.  Time limits for speakers shall be in accordance with the above.

The minutes of a meeting are a synopsis of what was done at a meeting.  Minutes are not a transcription of a meeting.  Minutes are prepared by the Commission Assistant who shall perform the duty impartially.
The Sunshine Law requires that minutes of a meeting of a commission be promptly recorded and open to public inspection.  The adoption of the minutes, including any corrections, shall be voted on at the next Commission meeting.  If a member of the public wishes to offer a correction of the minutes, they may do so in writing and this request shall be referred to the Commission Assistant for review.

While public participation in Commission meetings is welcome and encouraged, the Commission shall maintain orderly conduct and proper decorum.  Conduct or speech that prevents the Chair from proceeding through the agenda at a normal pace or prevents other persons from expressing their views, such as speaking without being recognized, is a disruption that may lead to the Chair asking the disruptor(s) to leave.  If the speaker refuses to abide by the Chair's request, the Chair may take action to bring the meeting back to order or adjourn the meeting until such time as orderly conduct and decorum are restored.
While most comments are constitutionally protected speech, speech threatening or inciting others to violence is not.  Speakers threatening or inciting violence shall be asked to refrain from making such comments and if the speaker refuses, he or she shall be asked to leave the meeting or be removed.