Who may speak?
Comments may be offered by Philadelphia residents or taxpayers. No proof of eligibility is required. You merely need to identify yourself and state where you live or, if you are not a resident of Philadelphia, that you are a Philadelphia taxpayer.
Council typically meets on Thursdays, beginning at approximately 10:00 a.m. At each session, there is a single public comment period, which occurs in the second half of the meeting, immediately before Council votes on bills and resolutions.
In what order?
The Chief Clerk of Council will maintain a list of those wishing to speak, and speakers will be heard in the order in which they sign up. To add your name, call the Chief Clerk’s office at 215-686-3410 or 215-686-3411. If you have not called to sign up by 5 pm on the Wednesday before the Council session, you should sign up in Room 400 City Hall before the Council session starts. However, you will not be denied the opportunity to provide public comment if you do not sign up in advance. After everyone who has signed up has spoken, the Council President will ask if anyone else wishes to be heard.
For how long?
Each speaker will have 3 minutes. However, the Council President reserves the right based on circumstances to establish a different time limit. The Council President may also limit repetitious comments in order to enable Council to conduct its meeting.
Speakers may comment on any of the bills or resolutions that are on Council’s Calendar (also known as the Agenda) for possible action at that day’s Council session, even if those items are not actually called up for a vote. This consists of any items on the “Final Passage” and “Second Reading and Final Passage” sections of the Calendar. To see the Calendar, you may (1) pick up a copy from the Chief Clerk’s Office (Room 402 City Hall), (2) ask the Chief Clerk to add your e-mail address to a weekly distribution list so that you receive it automatically in the future, or (3) look on the internet at the following address: http://legislation.phila.gov/calendar (do not type “www”); then scroll down and click on the Agenda for the next meeting of City Council. The Calendar is usually available by the Friday or Monday that precedes the next Thursday session of Council.
Is there another way to publicly express your opinion to Council about a bill?
Yes. In fact, you can weigh in at a much earlier stage in the life of a bill. Here’s how: Under Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter, before the full City Council may vote on a bill, the bill must first be referred to a committee of Council. That committee must hold a publicly advertised hearing on the bill, where any and all persons wishing to testify on the bill may do so. If you feel strongly about a bill – whether you oppose it, support it, or wish to see it amended – you are encouraged to testify at the committee hearing on the bill. Testifying at a committee hearing on a bill will not preclude you from also offering public comment on the bill if and when it is placed on the Final Passage calendar for action by the full Council.
What if I have more questions?
If you have questions about the procedures described above, please contact the Chief Clerk’s Office at 215-686-3410 or 215-686-3411.