[HISTORY: Adopted by the Legislative Council of the Town of Newtown as amended through 6-15-2011. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The Chair and Vice Chair shall be elected by a majority of the Council. The Chair or, in his/her absence, the Vice Chair shall preside at all meetings of the Council. He/she shall call the meeting to order promptly at the noticed time by requesting those present to pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
Upon the death, resignation, removal or incapacitation of the Chair or Vice Chair, there will be a new election for the vacated position within 30 days.
The Chair or Vice Chair may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the full Council.
The Clerk shall maintain an accurate record of attendance, including the time of arrival and departure of members; record all votes and other actions of the Council; produce accurate minutes of each meeting; prepare the agenda and notices of all regular and special meetings or cancellations at the direction of the Chair; and perform any other administrative duty as the Council from time to time directs.
The Clerk shall distribute minutes to each Council member prior to the next meeting.
The agenda for Council meetings shall be distributed three business days prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting.
The Clerk shall also be responsible for the preparation and maintenance of a permanently bound set of Council records, which shall be kept in the Town Clerk's office.
Each standing committee shall consist of three to six Council members appointed by the Chair at his/her sole discretion. The Chair shall consider the personal preferences of committee members in making appointments. The Chair of the Council serves as an ex-officio member of each standing committee of which he is not a regular member.
All members shall serve on at least one Committee. Exceptions are at the discretion of the Chair.
Each committee established herein shall choose its own Chair and Vice Chair. The Chair or, in his/her absence, the Vice Chair shall preside at all meetings. A committee Chair and Vice Chair may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the committee.
The Chair and Vice Chair of the Council shall, as part of the budget preparation process, prepare a proposed budget for Council operations for approval by the Council. If both the Chair and Vice Chair are of the same political party, one member of the political party having the highest representation on the Council shall assist the Chair and Vice Chair in preparing the proposed budget.
Nothing herein shall prevent the Chair from appointing ad hoc committees for specific purposes, to serve at the pleasure of the Council.
At the request of the Council Chair, committee Chairs or, in their absence, the Vice Chairs shall report at Council meetings on any agenda item that has been referred to their committees.
Once receiving its instructions from the Council, the committees shall gather information and advise the Council only. No committee has the authority to spend money or to make decisions on behalf of the Council, nor is it intended that any committee have the power or authority to act on behalf of or as representatives of the Council unless specifically authorized by the Council.
The Council will meet twice a month at regular dates decided upon by the Legislative Council at its first meeting following election unless canceled by the Chair due to lack of agenda items. The Chair may schedule special meetings as needed.
The order of business shall be:
Call to Order, Pledge of Allegiance, Roll Call.
Consideration and possible action on Minutes.
Communications (if not previously distributed).
First Selectman's Report.
Possible executive session and possible action on legal matters.
The order of business may be changed at the discretion of the Chair.
The Council desires to allow as much voter participation as is possible, consistent with the Council carrying out its own responsibilities to deliberate and act, believing that voter participation should generate information and opinions, while arguments and debates shall be presented for Council deliberation. The rules set forth below are intentionally broad in the hope that the voters' sense of responsibility, rather than the rules, will be the limiting factor in allowing the Council to achieve a balance between the voters' contribution and its own responsibilities.
Within the limits established herein and by the Newtown Charter, any person eligible to vote at a Town Meeting of the Town of Newtown may speak at any regular or special meeting on items on the agenda during the first voter comment and on any item they wish during the second voter comment. Participants will limit their comments to three minutes in length, unless, at the discretion of the Chair, allowed to speak longer. The length of time of the Voter Participation Comment periods may extend to 30 minutes where voters shall desire to speak for the first time. The Chair, at his/her discretion, may extend the Voter participation Comment period beyond 30 minutes.
Each voter wishing to speak shall ask the Chair to be recognized. Upon being recognized, each voter shall state his/her name and address and the item he or she will address. No voter shall be allowed to speak for a second time until all the voters wishing to speak have been heard once.
All motions, resolutions and amendments on Agenda items shall be presented to the Clerk in writing if the Chairman or a majority of the Council so desires.
When there has been no committee report on a motion, and no representative of the affected department has been present during Council deliberations on the motion, a member may feel that the Council is not sufficiently informed. Under these circumstances, any member of the Council present may force postponement of the motion until a future meeting or date certain as a matter of right.
No Council member shall speak more than once on a question until each member choosing to speak shall have had an opportunity to speak once. No individual shall hold private discourse during Council debate, when the Chair is speaking, or while a voter is speaking during Voter Participation.
No motion having the effect of closing debate shall be in order until every member who wishes to speak on the motion under discussion has had at least one opportunity to do so.
Nothing in the above rules shall prevent elected/appointed Town officials or members of boards or commissions of the Town of Newtown having an interest in an Agenda item from participation after being recognized by the Chairman.
It shall be the duty of every Council member present to vote affirmatively or negatively on each question raised unless that member feels that he has an actual or possible conflict of interest that prevents him from acting. Unless the vote is unanimous, the "yeas" and "nays" of each member shall be recorded by the Clerk. Members who cannot physically attend a meeting but are able to participate in an agenda item discussion in its entirety, and hear and can be heard by all, may participate and vote by telephone or other electronic means that allows two-way communication.
After all agenda items of a regular meeting have been completed, matters not on the Agenda may be raised by members of the Council and discussed, but no action shall be taken by the Council on any such item except pursuant to the rules set forth in the Newtown Charter.
Except as otherwise specifically, provided by these rules, all meetings shall be conducted in conformity with the latest version of Robert's Rules of Order. It shall be the responsibility of the Chair to have a copy of Roberts Rules available for each meeting.
These rules may be amended at any meeting by majority of at least nine affirmative votes, provided that no proposed amendment may be acted upon at a meeting unless it has first appeared on the Agenda for discussion and is openly read by the Clerk at a prior meeting of the Council, and unless it appears again on the Agenda for the meeting of the Council at which action is to be taken. All Council members shall receive a written copy of the proposed amendment prior to the vote.
The rules shall not be suspended at any meeting of the Council except upon a two-thirds vote of those present, and the motion to do so shall state specifically what rule is proposed to be suspended and for what purpose, and the question shall be decided without debate or amendment.
Pursuant to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, radio, recording, television, or photographic equipment may be so located within the meeting room so as to permit the recording, broadcasting, or photographing of the proceedings. The recorder, broadcaster, or photographer shall be required to handle the recording, broadcasting or photographing in as inconspicuous a manner as possible and in such a manner as not to disturb the proceedings. Therefore:
Microphones must be located in a single location prior to the meeting and may not be moved within the seating area of the Council without the permission of the Chairman. Cameras may be used outside of the seating area of the Council.
During meetings, reporters and other persons of the media and public must remain outside the seating area of the Council and may not converse in private with members of the Council during the meeting.
When communicating with others on local government matters that are within the purview of the Legislative Council, a member shall indicate that his or her opinions are his or her own and do not reflect the opinion of the full Council.
If explicitly charged with representing the full Council, reference that you have been authorized by a Council resolution to speak on the Council's behalf.
Any member may communicate the official actions taken by the Council and may make reference to information in the Minutes.
These rules shall pertain to verbal and written comments made to other government entities, the media, and to the public, including in print, on the Internet and on social media platforms.