Senators Strickland and Jones continue their work to improve Henry County government through local legislation. The newest bill, Senate Bill 639, would introduce a county commissioner attendance requirement for board meetings. Those that fail to show up could face removal from the board.
Update: the legislative session adjourned for the year before the bill passed both chambers. It did not become law.
In November, the board had to cancel multiple meetings because half of the board was absent. Meetings on both November 3 and Nov. 30 were unable to occur after Commissioners Clemmons, Thomas and Holmes did not attend.
County Commissioner attendance requirement
Senate Bill 639 stipulates that commissioners who miss one-third of regular board meetings in a three-month period would be subject to their seat being declared vacant. This amounts to missing two meetings within three months.
Commissioners can have an excused absence if either they or an immediate family member has an accident, emergency, illness or injury. When this occurs, then commissioners must communicate with the county clerk prior to the meeting their unavailability to attend.
When a commissioner misses too many meetings, then the chief judge of Superior Court shall be empowered to declare a temporary vacancy in that seat. Before declaring a temporary vacancy, the judge shall hold a hearing as to the facts surrounding the alleged vacancy. The board member in question shall be notified of the meeting and have the opportunity to present evidence on their behalf.
If after the hearing the judge declares the seat vacant, then the steps to fill a board vacancy shall apply. This requires the political party that held the seat to submit nominees and the remaining board members to select from those nominees for interim county commissioner.
SB 639, sponsored by Senator Strickland and co-sponsored by Senator Jones, passed the state senate on Tuesday, March 29. The bill now proceeds to the house for consideration. The final day of the 2022 legislative session is next Monday, April 4.
Featured image shows the board of commissioners meeting on November 3, 2021. The county was unable to meet because a quorum of board member was not present. Photo credit Clayton Carte.