Omaha City Council public hearing

This file image shows a public hearing crowd during a recent discussion of Mayor Jean Stothert’s proposed trash collection contract.

The Omaha City Council on Tuesday withdrew a planned public hearing and vote on proposed rule changes that would have capped most public testimony to the council at 3 minutes.

Council President Chris Jerram and Deputy City Attorney Bernard in den Bosch said Tuesday that city and Douglas County lawyers were discussing some concerns about the revised rules. Among them: the wording of some proposed restrictions on public behavior during council meetings.

It also became clear during the council’s premeeting Tuesday that the rule changes might lack the support of all seven council members, which the council requires to change its rules.

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Councilwoman Aimee Melton, who represents northwest Omaha, asked to be included in the next drafting process.

Councilman Brinker Harding, who represents parts of west Omaha, repeated his concerns that 3 minutes might be too short in some circumstances.

And Councilman Rich Pahls, who represents southwest Omaha, said such concerns were a big reason why the vote should be delayed indefinitely.

Most of the proposed rules put in writing what the council already does in practice, including limiting speakers to the topic at hand.

Council member Ben Gray, who represents north Omaha, has said the council had no intention of keeping the public from speaking or limiting speech.

Nebraska’s open meetings law allows public bodies to police public conduct during public meetings. The council discussed no date for another hearing.

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