Bay County First Amendment Policy

It is the policy of Bay County to allow and encourage constitutionally protected conduct by speakers (hereinafter, participants), including the distribution and dissemination of expressive, non-commercial material, and obtaining signatures for petitions, at traditional public forums whenever such activity is not inconsistent with the normal operation or activities of the facility.

Bay County facilities provide important services to the public. They can sometimes be congested. The facilities have regular operating hours, and are occasionally closed to the public for special events. In recognition of those limitations, this policy seeks to apply reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions to petitioning, free speech, and other forms of expression under the First Amendment.

This policy is limited to facilities which have been traditionally open to political speech and debate, including County park facilities and portions of the exterior of the County Administration Building. It is not the intent of this policy to expand rights to County facilities which are not traditional public forums. Furthermore, this policy does not apply to County-owned facilities which house satellite offices of constitutional officers. Those officers may adopt their own policies for those facilities.

Bay County reserves the right to remove any person from County facilities who violates this policy.

 1. No permit is required to engage in First Amendment activities at a Bay County facility provided the group has less than twenty five (25) participants and provided the facility is open to the general public on the day of the activity. Larger groups, and groups seeking to engage in First Amendment activities when the facility is closed to the general public, shall obtain a permit from the County Manager at least one (1) week prior to the proposed activity. The permit may contain time, place and manner restrictions beyond the general restrictions contained in this policy to ensure that the facilities can continue their normal operations and activities. The County Manager may charge a reasonable fee for reviewing and approving the permit.

 2. Participants engaging in First Amendment activities at a Bay County facility may set up one table. The tabletop may not be longer than eight feet. A participant must be present at the table at all times. The table may be set up no more than thirty (30) minute before the facility is open, and must be removed when the facility closes.

 3. Participants may not use any sound device, including but not limited to a bullhorn or other sound amplifying device, without the written consent of the County Manager or its designee.

 4. Participants may not use, in any manner, fighting words or obscenities. No participant shall engage in loud, rude, or unreasonable behavior; disturb the public peace; make threatening comments, actions or gestures toward others; obstruct the use and enjoyment of any facility, area, or event; act in a disorderly manner; or participate in any behavior or activity which in the opinion of the County Manager or its designee may affect the safety or well-being of any person visiting the facility.

 5. Participants may not sell or advertise any merchandise or service. Funds may not be demanded or requested in return for any written materials. Participants may solicit voluntary contributions.

 6. Participants may not advertise, solicit, canvass, or disseminate information in or on any motor vehicle.

 7. The County Manager or its designee may specify a specific location at the facility in which the participants may engage in their activities. Participants are limited to areas of the facility outside any building and outside any driveway, vehicular parking area, or fire lane. Participants may not restrain any individual, or block, delay, impede, or hinder the free passage or movement of patrons, concessionaires, employees, or others. Participants may not block, hinder or delay the free passage of vehicles, divert the ordinary flow of traffic, interfere with parking, or operate in such manner as to obstruct the efficient and safe parking of cars. Participants may not be located immediately adjacent to doorways, fire lanes, and loading areas.

 8. Participants are required to comply with all rules and regulations, and all local, state, and federal laws, statutes, codes, ordinances and regulations.