AB 792, as introduced, Mullin. Local government: open meetings.
The Ralph M. Brown Act enables the legislative body of a local agency to call both regular and special meetings. The act requires the legislative body of a local agency to post, at least 72 hours before the meeting, an agenda containing a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed at a regular meeting, in a location that is freely accessible to members of the public, and to provide a notice containing similar information with respect to a special meeting at least 24 hours prior to the special meeting. The act requires that the agenda or notice be freely accessible to members of the public, and be posted on the local agency’s Internet Web site, if the local agency has one.
This bill, if the local agency is unable to post the agenda or notice on its Internet Web site because of software or hardware impairment beyond the local agency’s reasonable control, would require the local agency to post the agenda or notice immediately upon resolution of the technological problems. The bill would provide that the delay in posting, or the failure to post, the agenda or notice would not preclude a local agency from conducting the meeting or taking action on items of business, provided that the agency has complied with all other relevant requirements.
Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.
This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
Section 54954.2 of the Government Code is
2amended to read:
(a) (1) At least 72 hours before a regular meeting,
4the legislative body of the local agency, or its designee, shall post
5an agenda containing a brief general description of each item of
6business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting, including
7items to be discussed in closed session. A brief general description
8of an item generally need not exceed 20 words. The agenda shall
9specify the time and location of the regular meeting and shall be
10posted in a location that is freely accessible to members of the
11public and on the local agency’s Internet Web site, if the local
12agency has one. If requested, the agenda shall be made available
13in appropriate alternative formats to persons with a disability, as
14required by Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of
151990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12132), and the federal rules and regulations
16adopted in implementation thereof. The agenda shall include
17information regarding how, to whom, and when a request for
18disability-related modification or accommodation, including
19auxiliary aids or services, may be made by a person with a
20disability who requires a modification or accommodation in order
21to participate in the public meeting.
22(2) No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not
23appearing on the posted agenda, except that members of a
24legislative body or its staff may briefly respond to statements made
25or questions posed by persons exercising their public testimony
26rights under Section 54954.3. In addition, on their own initiative
27or in response to questions posed by the public, a member of a
28legislative body or its staff may ask a question for clarification,
29make a brief announcement, or make a brief report on his or her
P3 1own activities. Furthermore, a member of a legislative body, or
2the body itself, subject to rules or procedures of the legislative
3body, may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual
4information, request staff to report back to the body at a subsequent
5meeting concerning any matter, or take action to direct staff to
6place a matter of business on a future agenda.
7(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the legislative body may
8take action on items of business not appearing on the posted agenda
9under any of the conditions stated below. Prior to discussing any
10item pursuant to this subdivision, the legislative body shall publicly
11identify the item.
12(1) Upon a determination by a majority vote of the legislative
13body that an emergency situation exists, as defined in Section
15(2) Upon a determination by a two-thirds vote of the members
16of the legislative body present at the meeting, or, if less than
17two-thirds of the members are present, a unanimous vote of those
18members present, that there is a need to take immediate action and
19that the need for action came to the attention of the local agency
20subsequent to the agenda being posted as specified in subdivision
22(3) The item was posted pursuant to subdivision (a) for a prior
23meeting of the legislative body occurring not more than five
24calendar days prior to the date action is taken on the item, and at
25the prior meeting the item was continued to the meeting at which
26action is being taken.
27(c) This section is necessary to implement and reasonably within
28the scope of paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article
29I of the California Constitution.
30(d) For purposes of subdivision (a), the requirement that the
31agenda be posted on the local agency’s Internet Web site, if the
32local agency has one, shall only apply to a legislative body that
33meets either of the following standards:
34(1) A legislative body as that term is defined by subdivision (a)
35of Section 54952.
36(2) A legislative body as that term is defined by subdivision (b)
37of Section 54952, if the members of the legislative body are
38compensated for their appearance, and if one or more of the
39members of the legislative body are also members of a legislative
40body as that term is defined by subdivision (a) of Section 54952.
Section 54956 of the Government Code is amended
(a) A special meeting may be called at any time by the
26presiding officer of the legislative body of a local agency, or by a
27majority of the members of the legislative body, by delivering
28written notice to each member of the legislative body and to each
29local newspaper of general circulation and radio or television
30station requesting notice in writing and posting a notice on the
31local agency’s Internet Web site, if the local agency has one. The
32notice shall be delivered personally or by any other means and
33shall be received at least 24 hours before the time of the meeting
34as specified in the notice. The call and notice shall specify the time
35and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted
36or discussed. No other business shall be considered at these
37meetings by the legislative body. The written notice may be
38 dispensed with as to any member who at or prior to the time the
39meeting convenes files with the clerk or secretary of the legislative
40body a written waiver of notice. The waiver may be given by
P5 1telegram. The written notice may also be dispensed with as to any
2member who is actually present at the meeting at the time it
4The call and notice shall be posted at least 24 hours prior to the
5special meeting in a location that is freely accessible to members
6of the public.
7(b) Notwithstanding any other law, a legislative body shall not
8call a special meeting regarding the salaries, salary schedules, or
9compensation paid in the form of fringe benefits, of a local agency
10executive, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 3511.1.
11However, this subdivision does not apply to a local agency calling
12a special meeting to discuss the local agency’s budget.
13(c) For purposes of subdivision (a), the requirement that the
begin delete agendaend delete be posted on the local agency’s Internet Web site,
15if the local agency has one, shall only apply to a legislative body
16that meets either of the following standards:
17(1) A legislative body as that term is defined by subdivision (a)
18of Section 54952.
19(2) A legislative body as that term is defined by subdivision (b)
20of Section 54952, if the members of the legislative body are
21compensated for their appearance, and if one or more of the
22members of the legislative body are also members of a legislative
23body as that term is defined by subdivision (a) of Section 54952.
The Legislature finds and declares that Sections 1 and
62 of this act, which amend Sections 54954.2 and 54956 of the
7Government Code, impose a limitation on the public’s right of
8access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public
9officials and agencies within the meaning of Section 3 of Article
10I of the California Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional
11provision, the Legislature makes the following findings to
12demonstrate the interest protected by this limitation and the need
13for protecting that interest:
14If unavoidable technical malfunctions or malicious acts prevent
15local agencies from carrying out the people’s business, efficient
16governance is impeded. Therefore, the health and safety of the
17people of California are enhanced by giving governing bodies the
18authority to conduct meetings without complying with Internet
19posting requirements when that compliance is unavoidable due to
20circumstances beyond the local agency’s control.