Bill Requiring All Governing Bodies To Allow Public Comment Passes In Committee, Heads to Senate Floor

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

Legislation requiring that public comment be allowed at meetings of governing bodies in Tennessee has officially been passed by the Senate State and Local Government Committee. 

Senate Bill 0551 (SB0551) is sponsored by Sen. Adam Lowe (R-Calhoun-District 1). Its companion House Bill 0448 (HB0448), sponsored by Rep. Elaine Davis (R-Knoxville-District 18), has already been passed in the House by an 82-6 vote

During Wednesday’s committee meeting, Sen. Lowe stated that SB0551 “simply ratifies the need for public comment when a commission or a board gathers with actionable items on the agenda.”

While providing opportunity for public comment remains common practice in many communities, instances of constituents being denied the ability to speak at public meetings continue to gain notoriety across the country.

“We have had some indications throughout the state, of election commissions, occasionally school boards, that are not providing adequate public comment in meetings that have an agenda with actionable items. This would make it by law, that they would have to provide a time for public comment,” said Sen. Lowe in committee.

The bill also allows governing bodies to put reasonable limitations on public comment.

“Much like we do on this committee,” Sen. Lowe said, referencing set timeframes for public testimony and set amounts of a meeting’s time that can be devoted to public comment, in order to avoid any specific person or group from filibustering a meeting.

The bill was also amended in committee to dictate what Sen. Lowe stated are “some carveouts for when there are no actionable items on the agenda [or when] there are disciplinary hearings involving personnel.” These situations would be excluded from public comment requirements.

“It’s a good faith effort with the community, just to make sure everyone has a voice in a public space,” Sen. Lowe concluded.

SB0551 was then passed as amended with a unanimous 9-0 vote and will soon be scheduled for consideration on the Senate floor.

About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Adelia at

One thought on “Bill Requiring All Governing Bodies To Allow Public Comment Passes In Committee, Heads to Senate Floor

  • March 31, 2023 at 4:44 pm

    Good idea.

    Adelia is doing a great job. Thank you!!!


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