BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 792
                                                                  Page  1

          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 792 (Mullin)
          As Amended  May 6, 2013
          Majority vote 

           LOCAL GOVERNMENT    8-1                                         
           
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Ayes:|Achadjian, Levine,        |     |                          |
          |     |Bradford, Gordon,         |     |                          |
          |     |Melendez, Mullin,         |     |                          |
          |     |Waldron, Bonta            |     |                          |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          |-----+--------------------------+-----+--------------------------|
          |Nays:|Alejo                     |     |                          |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 

           SUMMARY  :  Clarifies that legislative bodies of local agencies  
          may conduct regular and special meetings and take official  
          actions even if technical barriers have prevented pre-meeting  
          posting of agendas and notices on their Web sites.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Provides that, for purposes of pre-meeting Internet posting  
            requirements in current law, if the local agency is unable to  
            post the agenda for a regular meeting or a notice of a special  
            meeting on the local agency's Internet Web site because of  
            software or hardware impairment beyond the local agency's  
            reasonable control, these circumstances shall not preclude the  
            legislative body of the local agency from conducting the  
            meeting or taking action on items of business, provided that  
            the local agency complies with the following requirements:

             a)   The legislative body complies with all other pre-meeting  
               posting requirements;

             b)   The legislative body makes a reasonable effort to  
               restore online posting capabilities;

             c)   The legislative body posts the agenda or notice on the  
               Internet Web site immediately upon resolution of the  
               technological problems;

             d)   The legislative body, or its designee, shall announce at  








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               the beginning of the meeting the reason for the failure to  
               post, or the delay in posting, the agenda or the notice on  
               the local agency's Internet Web site; and,

             e)   The legislative body, or its designee, attests to a  
               written statement from the local agency describing the  
               reason for the failure to post or the delay in posting the  
               agenda or the notice on the local agency's Internet Web  
               site and the statement is posted on the local agency's  
               Internet Web site without delay.

          2)Defines "software or hardware impairment beyond the local  
            agency's reasonable control" to mean that the local agency is  
            unable to utilize the computer software, hardware, or network  
            services to post the agenda or agendas, or notice or notices,  
            to the local agency's Internet Web site due to inoperability  
            of the software, hardware, or network services caused by a  
            malicious act, introduction of a malicious program, including,  
            but not limited to, a computer virus, an electrical outage  
            affecting the local agency's computer network, or  
            unanticipated system or equipment inoperability or failure.

           
          EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Requires, under the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act), that all  
            meetings of a legislative body of a local agency be open and  
            public and that all persons be permitted to attend unless a  
            closed session is authorized.

          2)Requires, at least 72 hours before a regular meeting, the  
            legislative body of the local agency, or its designee, to post  
            an agenda containing a brief general description of each item  
            of business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting,  
            including items to be discussed in closed session.  The agenda  
            must specify the time and location of the regular meeting and  
            must be posted in a location that is freely accessible to  
            members of the public and on the local agency's Internet Web  
            site, if the local agency has one.

          3)Prohibits action or discussion from being undertaken on any  
            item not appearing on the posted agenda, as specified.

          4)Allows a special meeting of the legislative body of a local  
            agency to be called at any time by the presiding officer, or  








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            by a majority of the members of the legislative body, by  
            delivering written notice to each member of the legislative  
            body and to each local newspaper of general circulation and  
            radio or television station requesting notice in writing and  
            posting a notice on the local agency's Internet Web site, if  
            the local agency has one, at least 24 hours in advance of the  
            special meeting.

          5)Specifies that the call and notice for a special meeting must  
            specify the time and place of the special meeting and the  
            business to be transacted or discussed, and prohibits any  
            other business from being considered at the special meeting.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  None

           COMMENTS  :  This bill clarifies that local agency legislative  
          bodies may meet and take action in regular or special meetings  
          even if they are unable to comply, due to technical impairments  
          beyond their reasonable control, with current-law requirements  
          to post on their Web sites the agenda of a regular meeting or a  
          notice of a special meeting, provided that they comply with all  
          other pre-meeting posting requirements under the Brown Act and a  
          number of other requirements.  According to the author, "Whether  
          due to server failure, Internet provider service issues, or  
          malicious attack from hackers, it is not clear if local agencies  
          are still permitted to hold their meetings when their websites  
          are down?. Local agencies need clarification and guidance so  
          they can continue to conduct business in an open and transparent  
          manner."  This bill is sponsored by the California Special  
          Districts Association.

          The Brown Act's online posting requirement was established just  
          last year, via AB 1344 (Feuer and Alejo), Chapter 692, Statutes  
          of 2011.  The new statute requires the legislative body of a  
          local agency to post at least 72 hours in advance the agenda for  
          a regular meeting on the local agency's Internet Web site, if  
          the local agency has one, and to post at least 24 hours in  
          advance the notice for a special meeting and the business to be  
          transacted on the local agency's Internet Web site, if the local  
          agency has one.

          According to the author and sponsor, several local government  
          bodies have already experienced situations in which they were  
          unable to post their agenda online.  This presents local  
          agencies with a two-fold problem:  first, they are concerned  








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          with being out of compliance with the advance-posting  
          requirements under the Brown Act for these meetings; and,  
          second, they are concerned that any action taken during these  
          meetings could be declared null and void under existing  
          provisions of the Brown Act.

          The sponsor notes that some agenda items can be postponed, but  
          that other agenda items - such as contracts, infrastructure  
          financing agreements, litigation, or hiring and dismissal of  
          management - are time sensitive.  This is especially true for  
          local government bodies that do not meet on a weekly basis.

           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Angela Mapp / L. GOV. / (916) 319-3958 


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