Senator Amy Galey Files Bill to Address Disruption of Public Meetings

Raleigh, N.C. — Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance) today filed Senate Bill 335, “Increase Penalty/Disruption of Open Meeting.” The bill clarifies that conduct which disturbs the peace or order of an official meeting is punishable under disorderly conduct statutes. Currently, disruption of public meetings falls under G.S. 143–318.17 and is punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Sen. Galey said, “The current law is confusing. It is based on trespass law and focuses on whether a person leaves a public meeting when requested. This new law deals with the conduct that disrupted the public meeting.

“People who come to public meetings are often upset about something very important to them. Wide latitude should be given for them to express themselves, but speakers can reasonably be expected to follow the same rules for public comment or behavior that apply to everyone.

“This new law would give clarity about appropriate participation in a public meeting. It is vital that all levels of our government are able to conduct the public’s business with decorum.”

Sen. Michael Lazzara (R-Onslow) said, “I would like to thank Sen. Galey for inviting me to partner with her and Sen. Warren Daniel on this bill. It is important that we clarify the protections granted at public meetings in order to keep everyone safe and to allow our governmental bodies to operate in an orderly manner as they conduct the work of the citizens.”

The bill was drafted in consultation with the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys.

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