Rules of procedure the 2021-22 Garland County Quorum Court adopted at its first meeting Monday night included a section on virtual meetings.
Article 4 stated the quorum court will include the public in virtual meetings whenever practical. The county's legislative body held its first all-virtual meeting last spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The quorum court resumed in-person meetings in the summer and later allowed justices of the peace to participate remotely.
Two of the 13 JPs participated virtually in Monday night's meeting. County Attorney John Howard, who, according to the rules JPs adopted, is the quorum court's parliamentarian, told JPs that other than Article 4, the rules were mostly unchanged from what the 2019-20 quorum court adopted.
The county began requiring the public to register for the video teleconferences after hackers crashed the December meeting of the quorum court's Finance Committee. The county ended the Zoom call when it was unable to remove the hackers, who showed a graphic video and yelled profanities and racist comments.
After registering on the county website, the public can watch the meetings remotely but are unable to communicate with those in attendance.
The 2019-20 quorum court was the first to adopt an ordinance enshrining rules and procedures in the county code. The state code mandates quorum courts enumerate rules of procedure through an organizational ordinance adopted during the first regular meeting of the term. The county has said its ordinance was modeled after the Association of Arkansas Counties' procedural guide for quorum court meetings.
The ordinance allows a majority of JPs to amend procedure at any time.
"You are required by statute to periodically adopt rules of procedure," Howard told JPs. "You last did it in 2019. With the new court coming in you need to reaffirm those rules of procedure. Essentially, you are just adopting and reaffirming the procedure rules that were already in place."
The rules enshrined the procedure for adopting ordinances by a roll-call vote and advancing motions by a voice vote previous quorum courts used before the 2019-20 court adopted rules of procedure. The rules allow a resolution to be adopted by voice vote, whereas a roll-call vote was required prior to 2019.
Three readings will continue to be required for the adoption of ordinances, with a two-thirds majority needed to suspend rules that require the readings be held over the course of three separate meetings.
Jeremy Brown, R-District 12, is the only new member of the 2021-22 quorum court. He replaced Richard McGrew, who resigned last year after his election to District 22 of the state House. In April, the governor appointed McGrew's wife, Debbie, to serve the remainder of his term.
Brown was unopposed in last year's primary and general elections. His district includes the Mountain Pine area. All four incumbents who were opposed were reelected.
Brown was appointed vice chair of the Ordinance Committee. Ray Owen Jr., D-District 6, was reappointed as committee chair. John Horner, R-District 5, and John Faulkner, R-District 7, were reappointed as chair and vice chair of the Environmental Service, Public Works and Buildings Committee.
Thomas Anderson, D-District 2, and David Reagan, D-District 1, were reappointed as chair and vice chair of the Human Resources Committee. Larry Raney, R-District 13, and Jimmy Young, R-District 4, were reappointed as chair and vice chair of the Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee.
Matt McKee, R-District 9, and Jason Braziel, R-District 8, were reappointed earlier this month as Finance Committee chair and vice chair.