Speakers must sign up in advance by calling the Council Office at 240-777-7803. Persons who have not signed up in advance will be asked to submit their testimony in writing, but may be heard at the end of the hearingat the discretion of the presiding officer.
Public hearing sign-ups begin on the date that the notice of the public hearing is first advertised in a local newspaper.
Beginning FEBRUARY 25, 2013:
Deadline to sign up to speak at a Council hearing:
Afternoon hearing - 5:00 pm on the day before the hearing
Evening hearing - 10:00 am on the day of the hearing
If we have been unable to accommodate you on the speaker’s list, please provide testimony in writing so we can include your comments in the record and share them with all Councilmembers. Your written testimony will be given the same consideration as oral testimony.
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Mail to: Council President, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850.
It has been customary to begin evening hearings at 7:30 pm and to limit the number of speakers to 30 for an evening public hearing and 5 for an afternoon public hearing. To accommodate more speakers for extraordinary hearings, the Council President has the discretion to adjust the start and end times of the hearing or to continue the hearing to an additional evening.
Each speaker will be given 3 minutes. This applies to elected officials, government and organization representatives as well as individuals. Speakers will not be allowed to cede time to another speaker. Either a property owner or the owner’s attorney, but not both, may speak at a hearing. Only one person may represent an organization.An individual who wishes to speak at more than one public hearing in the same Council session will receive a total of 5 minutes to speak on all items scheduled at that session. Only the County Executive, appearing personally, is exempted from the time limit.
Staff has been directed to assure that the Council hears all points of view. Staff asks speakers to indicate whether they are “pro” or “con” when appropriate, and to specify the issue they wish to address. Speakers are encouraged to consolidate testimony, and staff tries to accommodate special requests and needs. In conversations with the public, staff stresses that the hearing is not a plebiscite. The Council does not presume that the number of “pro” and “con” speakers at a public hearing reflects the distribution of public opinion on that issue.
Speakers often are not told when they sign up that they have a place on the list. When the topic is complex or controversial, staff takes the names of all persons who wish to speak. Council staff, after consulting with the Council President, selects who is on the final list. In all cases, staff maintains a list of all persons who asked to speak; that list is available to the members of the Council.
In the case of budget hearings, slots are reserved for each portion of the budget and allocated just before the date of the public hearing. Government department and agency representatives will not be selected to testify at the budget hearings.
Speakers are brought to the witness table in groups of 5 or 6. While Council staff does accommodate some requests for speakers who wish to testify together, staff attempts to compose each panel of persons with different points of view. All members of each panel remain at the witness table until the entire panel has testified. Councilmembers reserve their questions until the entire panel has spoken.
The Council's rules of procedure authorize the presiding officer to limit testimony to the subject of the public hearing.