Commissioners Court

Rules of Procedure, Conduct & Decorum

The following rules apply to all meetings of the Bell County Commissioners Court.

     I. All Regular, Special, Emergency and Closed Session Meetings of the Bell County Commissioners Court will be called and conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act, Chapter 551, Government Code.


   II. Regular, Special, and Emergency Meetings of the Bell County Commissioners Court are open to the public and to representatives of the press and media.  Closed Sessions of the Commissioners Court are not open to the public, the press, or the media and only those individuals expressly requested or ordered to be present are allowed to attend Closed Session.


  III. The Bell County Commissioners Court meets in Regular Session each Monday of the month at 9 a.m., except on holidays or by order of the Commissioners or the County Judge.  In order for a matter of issue to  appear as an agenda item on the Agenda of any Regular Meeting of the Commissioners Court, a request  must be filed with the County Judge's Office by 12:00 pm (noon) on the Tuesday immediately preceding the  next Regular Meeting of the Commissioners Court.  In addition, the agenda item request must be approved  by at least one member of the Commissioners Court and/or the County Judge.

 a.   The Bell County Commissioners Court also meets each Monday at 9:30 a.m. in Workshop. Workshop meetings are primarily intended to be meetings to receive briefings from staff and others on County operations and County projects.   Workshop meeting agendas will be posted in accordance with the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act, Chapter 551, Government Code and members of the public are welcome to attend the Workshop meetings, save and except those posted as closed meetings.


  IV. The business of Bell County is conducted by and between the members of the Bell County Commissioners Court and by those members of the County staff, elected officials, department heads, consultants, experts, and/or members of the public requested to be present and participate.  While the public is invited to attend all meetings of the Commissioners Court (except Closed Sessions) the public's participation is limited to that of observers unless a member (or members) of the public is requested to address the Commissioners Court on a particular issue (or issues) or unless the member (or members)  of the public completes a Public Participation Form and submits same to the County Clerk  prior to the time the agenda item (or items)  is addressed by the Court.   A sample of the Bell County Commissioners Court Public Participation Form is attached hereto as Exhibit "A."  Click Here for the form.

 A.   Each member of the public who appears before the Commissioners Court shall be limited to a maximum of five (5) minutes to make his/her remarks.  Time for each speaker shall be maintained by the County Clerk or such other designated representative of the Commissioners Court.

B.   A maximum discussion on any agenda item, regardless of the number of members of the public wishing to address the Commissioners Court on such agenda item (or items), shall be limited to thirty (30) minutes.  In the event that more than six (6) members of the public wish to address a particular agenda item (or items), then time allocated to members of the public recognized to speak shall be divided equally between those members of the public wishing to speak for the agenda item (or items) and those members of the public wishing to speak against the agenda item (or items).

C.   In matters of exceptional interest, the Court may, by the majority vote of the members of the Court in attendance at the meeting, either shorten or lengthen the time allocated for all members of the public and/or the amount of time allocated for all agenda items and/or a specific agenda item.

D.   It is the intention of the Court to provide an open access to  the citizens of Bell County to address the Commissioners Court and express themselves on issues of County government.  Members of the public are reminded that the Bell County Commissioners Court is a Constitutional Court, with both judicial and legislative powers, created under Article V, Section I and Section 18 of the Texas Constitution.   As a Constitutional Court, the Bell County Commissioners Court also possesses the power to issue a Contempt of Court Citation under Section 81.023 of the Texas Local Government Code.  Accordingly, members of the public in attendance at any Regular, Special, and/or Emergency Meeting of the Court shall conduct themselves with proper respect and decorum in speaking to and/or addressing the Court; in participating in public discussions before the Court; and in all actions in the presence of the Court.  Proper attire for men, women, and children is mandatory.  Those members of the public who are inappropriately attired and/or who do not conduct themselves in an orderly and appropriate manner may be ordered to leave the meeting by the Court or the Presiding Officer.  Refusal to abide by the Court's Order or the Order of the Presiding Officer, and/or continued disruption of the meeting, may result in a Contempt of Court citation.

E.   It is not the intention of the Bell County Commissioners Court to provide a public forum for the demeaning of any individual or group.  Neither is it the intention of the Court to allow a member (or members) of the public to insult the honesty and/or integrity of the Court, as a body, or any member or members of the Court, individually or collectively.  Accordingly, profane, insulting or threatening language directed toward the Court, toward a member of the Court, and/or any person in the Court's presence and/or racial, ethnic, or gender slurs or epithets will not be tolerated.  Nothing in these is intended to prohibit public criticism of the Commissioners Court, including criticism of any act, omission, policy, procedure, program, or service.  Violation of these rules may result in the following sanctions:

1.  revocation and/or cancellation of a speaker's time;

2.  removal from the Commissioners Courtroom;

3.  a Contempt Citation; and/or

4. such other civil and/or criminal sanctions as may be authorized under the Constitution, Statutes, and Codes of the State of Texas.


    V. The County Judge is the presiding officer of the Bell County Commissioners Court and is a fully participating member thereof.  In the event of the absence of the County Judge, the senior member of the Commissioners Court (in terms of total number of years as an elected representative) present at the Regular, Special, Emergency Meeting, or Closed Session, shall serve as the Judge Pro-Tem of the Court.  However, nothing herein shall prevent the senior member of this Commissioners Court from delegating this duty to another member of the Commissioners Court.


   VI. The County Judge (or the designated Judge Pro-Tem of the Commissioners Court), as presiding officer of the Commissioners Court, is responsible for conducting all meetings, and members of the public who have properly completed a Public Participation Form and submitted same to the County Clerk must wait to be recognized before they will be allowed to address the Court.


  VII. Special Rules for the Press and Media:

 A.   Media personnel shall secure prior approval from the Presiding Officer for the location of any personnel or equipment, including, but not limited to, lights, cameras, or microphones.  In general, media personnel and equipment shall remain behind the partition that separates the Commissioners Court dais from the seating area.

B.   Regardless of location, reporters and media technicians are required to structure their movements, equipment set-up and take-down, and adjustments, etc. in such a manner as to not disrupt the Commissioners Court deliberations or the ability of the public to see, hear, and participate in the proceedings.

C.   Interviews shall not be conducted inside the Commissioners Courtroom during the time the Court is in session.

D.   Media interviews which are conducted outside the Commissioners Courtroom should be conducted in such a manner that the interview does not disturb, impede, or disrupt the proceedings of any Regular, Special, Emergency, and/or Closed Session Meeting of the Court.


VIII. The Sheriff of Bell County, Texas, or his designated deputy, shall serve as the Bailiff at all Regular, Special, and Emergency Meetings of the Court.  However, in the event of the absence of the Sheriff, or in the event that there exists a conflict of interest between the Sheriff, any member of the Sheriff's Department, and the Commissioners Court, or in the event of a Closed Session of the Court in which the Sheriff is not an authorized participant, then in such event, the Court shall appoint such other commissioned peace officers to serve as Bailiff as may be necessary.


   IX. From time to time, the Commissioners Court shall conduct town meetings and public hearings.  These rules of procedure, conduct and decorum shall also apply to such town meetings and public hearings; however, the Commissioners Court may adopt such additional and supplemental rules for such meetings as may be necessary and appropriate to conduct such meetings in an orderly, efficient, and proper manner.


    X. These Rules of Procedure, Conduct and Decorum at Meetings of the Bell County Commissioners Court shall be effective immediately upon adoption by the Court and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or repealed by a majority vote of the Commissioners Court.


PASSED AND APPROVED by the BELL COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT on this the 26th day of August, 2019.

Click Here for a signed and/or printable copy of these rules.

Click Here for the Public Participation Form