The Houston City Council has transitioned to virtual meetings until further notice after at-large council member Letitia Plummer tested positive for COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The city said in a May 15 news release that council meetings, beginning with Tuesday’s meeting, would be held virtually using Microsoft Teams in an attempt to reduce the chances of COVID-19 transmission. The city said it is legally permitted to hold virtual council meetings because Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has suspended various provisions of the Open Meetings Act during the pandemic.
There are several procedures for residents to follow if they would like to make public comments during virtual council meetings, which will be broadcast on HTV, Houston’s municipal channel, as well as the city’s website and Facebook page.
Public comments will be allowed via teleconference for each meeting. In order to speak, the city said residents must register in advance – by 5 p.m. the day before the meeting – by calling the city secretary’s office at 832-393-1100. Once they are registered, public speakers will need to call 936-755-1521 prior to the meeting and input the appropriate meeting ID.
All speakers will wait with their line muted until Mayor Sylvester Turner recognizes them. When their name is called, they will need to press *6 to unmute and mute themselves after their comments are heard. As with in-person meetings, each speaker will have 1-3 minutes for comment. Speakers may be muted or dismissed from the meeting if they speak out of turn, according to the city.