BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                                                       Bill No:  AB  
          2720
          
                 SENATE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION
                           Senator Lou Correa, Chair
                           2013-2014 Regular Session
                                 Staff Analysis



          AB 2720  Author:  Ting
          As Amended:  April 2, 2014
          Hearing Date:  June 10, 2014
          Consultant:  Paul Donahue


                                     SUBJECT  

               State agencies: Meetings; Record of actions taken

                                   DESCRIPTION
           
          Requires a state body to publicly report any action taken  
          at an open meeting, and the vote or abstention on that  
          action, of each member present for the action.

                                   EXISTING LAW

           1)The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act requires all meetings  
            of a state body to be open and public, and that all  
            persons be permitted to attend and participate in any  
            meeting of a state body.

          2)Defines a "state body" as each of the following:

             a)   Every state board, or commission, or similar  
               multimember body of the state that is created by  
               statute or required by law to conduct official  
               meetings and every commission created by executive  
               order.

             b)   A board, commission, committee, or similar  
               multimember body that exercises any authority of a  
               state body delegated to it by that state body.

             c)   An advisory board, advisory commission, advisory  




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               committee, advisory subcommittee, or similar  
               multimember advisory body of a state body, if created  
               by formal action of the state body or of any member of  
               the state body, and if the advisory body so created  
               consists of three or more persons.

             d)   A board, commission, committee, or similar  
               multimember body on which a member of a body that is a  
               state body pursuant to this section serves in his or  
               her official capacity as a representative of that  
               state body and that is supported, in whole or in part,  
               by funds provided by the state body, whether the  
               multimember body is organized and operated by the  
               state body or by a private corporation.

          3)Defines "action taken" as a collective decision by the  
            members of a state body, a collective commitment or  
            promise by the members of the state body to make a  
            positive or negative decision or an actual vote by the  
            members of a state body when sitting as a body or entity  
            upon a motion, proposal, resolution, order or similar  
            action.

                                    BACKGROUND
           
           Purpose  :  According to the author, current law requires  
          that the meetings of state boards and commissions be open  
          to the public, so that their deliberations and actions are  
          conducted in service of the public's interest. However,  
          there is no specific requirement that actions taken by  
          state boards and commissions during regular meetings are  
          publicly reported and reveal vote or abstention of each  
          member present for the action. 

          Consequently, there are multiple examples of state boards  
          and commissions that do not make this important information  
          readily accessible to the public. Final votes are often  
          reported, for example, as 20 Ayes and 10 Noes, making it  
          impossible to determine how individual members, who  
          represent different industry interests, voted on the action  
          taken. Some votes do not even report the final vote  
          numerically, only reporting whether the action passed or  
          failed. If a member of the public was not able to attend  
          the meeting, then it is impossible for that individual to  
          be wholly informed about the outcome of the action taken.





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          The author states that AB 2720 would strengthen  
          California's commitment to open and transparent governance  
          by requiring all state boards and commissions to count,  
          identify, and publicly disclose all votes on actions taken  
          during meetings. This bill will ensure that the public has  
          complete information about the decisions made by state  
          bodies, so they are held accountable to the public  
          interest.

           Bagley-Keene Act  :  When the Legislature enacted the  
          Bagley-Keene Act of 1967 it essentially said that when a  
          body sits down to develop its consensus, there needs to be  
          a seat at the table reserved for the public. In doing so,  
          the Legislature has provided the public with the ability to  
          monitor and be part of the decision-making process.  
          Bagley-Keene explicitly mandates open meetings for  
          California State agencies, boards, and commissions. It  
          facilitates transparency of government activities and  
          protects the rights of citizens to participate in state  
          government deliberations. Therefore, absent a specific  
          reason to keep the public out of meetings, the public  
          should be allowed to monitor and participate in the  
          decision-making process. Similarly, the California's Brown  
          Act of 1953 protects citizen's rights to open meetings at  
          the local and county government levels. 

           Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act)  :  Although Bagley-Keene  
          ensures open meetings at the state level, the Brown Act  
          governs open meetings at the local level. Last year, the  
          Legislature unanimously approved and the Governor signed SB  
          751 (Yee), which guaranteed that local agencies publicly  
          report the vote of each member of their governing bodies on  
          actions taken. AB 2720 will make conforming changes to the  
          Bagley-Keene Act to ensure that all state boards and  
          commissions are similarly held accountable to the public  
          they serve.

           Arguments in support  :  The California Taxpayers Association  
          (CalTax) states that all levels of government need to  
          continue to promote a transparent government. Empowering  
          people to engage in government allows them to become  
          stakeholders in the political process. Giving access, in  
          turn, allows people to see how their government is run, and  
          how policymakers' decisions will impact their lives.

          The California Newspaper Publishers Association states that  




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          the need for AB 2720 arose when several state agencies  
          governed by the Bagley-Keene Act, failed to conduct either  
          a roll call vote or a specific tally and report the votes  
          of each member of the boards. 

          Consequently, constituents found it difficult, if not  
          impossible to determine who voted for or against a measure  
          when the agencies took action. AB 2720 would prevent  
          anonymous voting by large agencies and would improve the  
          ability of the public and others who monitor legislative  
          meetings of state agencies to be certain of how members  
          vote on an issue. The costs associated with the  
          implementation of AB 2720 would be minimal because the task  
          of identifying how a member votes is a simple one requiring  
          little, if any, effort by the agency to perform.

                            PRIOR/RELATED LEGISLATION
           
          AB 2058 (Wilk), 2013-2014 Session. Would modify the  
          definition of "state body" to clarify that standing  
          committees, even if composed of less than three members,  
          are a "state body" for the purposes of the Bagley-Keene  
          Act. (Pending in Senate G.O. Committee)

          SB 751 (Yee), Chapter 257, Statutes of 2013. Requires local  
          agencies to publicly report any action taken and the vote  
          or abstention of each member of a legislative body.

           SUPPORT:  

          California Newspaper Publishers Association
          California Taxpayers Association

           OPPOSE:   

          None on file

           FISCAL COMMITTEE:   No.


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