Amended in Senate June 16, 2016

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 1787


Introduced by Assembly Member Gomez

February 4, 2016


An act to amend Sectionbegin delete 12812.2end deletebegin insert 54594.3end insert of the Government Code, relating tobegin delete environmental protection.end deletebegin insert open meetings.end insert

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1787, as amended, Gomez. begin deleteCalifornia Environmental Protection Agency: cross-media enforcement unit. end deletebegin insertOpen meetings: public comments: translation.end insert

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The Ralph M. Brown Act requires a local legislative body to provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the body concerning any item described in a notice of meeting. The act authorizes the legislative body to adopt reasonable regulations limiting the total amount of time allocated for public testimony for each individual speaker.

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begin insert

This bill, if a local legislative body limits the time for public comment, would require the legislative body to provide at least twice the allotted time to a member of the public who utilizes a translator to ensure that non-English speakers receive the same opportunity to directly address the legislative body, unless simultaneous translation equipment is used to allow the body to hear the translated public testimony simultaneously.

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By imposing new requirements on cities, counties, cities and counties, and special districts, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

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The California Constitution requires local agencies, for the purpose of ensuring public access to the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies, to comply with a statutory enactment that amends or enacts laws relating to public records or open meetings and contains findings demonstrating that the enactment furthers the constitutional requirements relating to this purpose.

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begin insert

This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.

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begin insert

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

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This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

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Existing law establishes the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) under the supervision of the Secretary for Environmental Protection, and requires CalEPA, among other things, to identify disadvantaged communities for certain investment opportunities based on geographic, socioeconomic, public health, and environmental hazard criteria, as specified. Existing law requires the secretary’s deputy secretary for law enforcement and counsel to, in consultation with the Attorney General, establish a cross-media enforcement unit to assist boards, departments, offices, or other agencies that implement a law or regulation within the jurisdiction of CalEPA, as specified.

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This bill would require the cross-media enforcement unit to prioritize the state’s most disadvantaged communities, as specified.

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Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: begin deleteno end deletebegin insertyesend insert.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1begin insert

begin insertSECTION 1.end insert  

end insert

begin insertSection 54954.3 of the end insertbegin insertGovernment Codeend insertbegin insert is
2amended to read:end insert

3

54954.3.  

(a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide
4an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the
5legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or
6during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, that is
7within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body,
8provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing
9on the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by
10subdivision (b) of Section 54954.2. However, the agenda need not
11provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the
P3    1legislative body on any item that has already been considered by
2a committee, composed exclusively of members of the legislative
3body, at a public meeting wherein all interested members of the
4public were afforded the opportunity to address the committee on
5the item, before or during the committee’s consideration of the
6item, unless the item has been substantially changed since the
7committee heard the item, as determined by the legislative body.
8Every notice for a special meeting shall provide an opportunity
9for members of the public to directly address the legislative body
10concerning any item that has been described in the notice for the
11meeting before or during consideration of that item.

12(b) begin insert(1)end insertbegin insertend insert The legislative body of a local agency may adopt
13reasonable regulations to ensure that the intent of subdivision (a)
14is carried out, including, but not limited to, regulations limiting
15the total amount of time allocated for public testimony on particular
16issues and for each individual speaker.

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17
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), when the legislative body
18of a local agency limits time for public comment, the legislative
19body of a local agency shall provide at least twice the allotted time
20to a member of the public who utilizes a translator to ensure that
21non-English speakers receive the same opportunity to directly
22address the legislative body of a local agency.

end insert
begin insert

23
(3) Paragraph (2) shall not apply if the legislative body of a
24local agency utilizes simultaneous translation equipment in a
25manner that allows the legislative body of a local agency to hear
26the translated public testimony simultaneously.

end insert

27(c) The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit
28public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services
29of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body.
30Nothing in this subdivision shall confer any privilege or protection
31for expression beyond that otherwise provided by law.

32begin insert

begin insertSEC. 2.end insert  

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begin insert

The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of
33this act, which amends Section 54594.3 of the Government Code,
34furthers, within the meaning of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b)
35of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution, the purposes
36of that constitutional section as it relates to the right of public
37access to the meetings of local public bodies or the writings of
38local public officials and local agencies. Pursuant to paragraph
39(7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California
40Constitution, the Legislature makes the following findings:

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begin insert

P4    1
Because this act restricts the authority of a legislative body of
2a local agency under the Ralph M. Brown Act to limit time for
3public comment by a speaker who uses a translator, the act furthers
4the purpose of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution.

end insert
5begin insert

begin insertSEC. 3.end insert  

end insert
begin insert

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
6Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
7the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
8district under this act would result from a legislative mandate that
9is within the scope of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section
103 of Article I of the California Constitution.

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11

SECTION 1.  

Section 12812.2 of the Government Code is
12amended to read:

13

12812.2.  

(a) One of the deputies to the Secretary for
14Environmental Protection shall be a deputy secretary for law
15enforcement and counsel, who, subject to the direction and
16supervision of the secretary, shall have the responsibility and
17authority to do all of the following:

18(1) Develop a program to ensure that the boards, departments,
19offices, and other agencies that implement laws or regulations
20within the jurisdiction of the California Environmental Protection
21Agency take consistent, effective, and coordinated compliance
22and enforcement actions to protect public health and the
23environment. The program shall include training and cross-training
24of inspection and enforcement personnel of those boards,
25departments, offices, or other agencies to ensure consistent,
26effective, and coordinated enforcement.

27(2) (A) In consultation with the Attorney General, establish a
28cross-media enforcement unit to assist a board, department, office,
29or other agency that implements a law or regulation within the
30jurisdiction of the California Environmental Protection Agency,
31to investigate and prepare matters for enforcement action in order
32to protect public health and the environment. The unit may inspect
33and investigate a violation of a law or regulation within the
34jurisdiction of the board, department, office, or other agency,
35including a violation involving more than one environmental
36medium and a violation involving the jurisdiction of more than
37one board, department, office, or agency. The unit shall exercise
38its authority consistent with the authority granted to the head of a
39department pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 11180)
40of Chapter 2 of Part 1. In exercising its authority pursuant to this
P5    1section, the unit shall prioritize the state’s most disadvantaged
2communities.

3(B) For purposes of this paragraph, “state’s most disadvantaged
4communities” means communities identified by the California
5Environmental Protection Agency, through the California
6Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool, also known
7as CalEnviroScreen, created pursuant to Section 39711 of the
8Health and Safety Code, as the disadvantaged communities most
9disproportionately burdened and vulnerable to multiple sources of
10pollution.

11(3) Refer a violation of a law or regulation within the jurisdiction
12of a board, department, office, or other agency that implements a
13law or regulation within the jurisdiction of the California
14Environmental Protection Agency to the Attorney General, a
15district attorney, or city attorney for the filing of a civil or criminal
16action.

17(4) Exercise the authority granted pursuant to paragraph (3)
18only after providing notice to the board, department, office, or
19other agency unless the secretary determines that notice would
20compromise an investigation or enforcement action.

21(b) Nothing in this section shall authorize the deputy secretary
22for law enforcement and counsel to duplicate, overlap, compromise,
23or otherwise interfere with an investigation or enforcement action
24undertaken by a board, department, office, or other agency that
25implements a law or regulation subject to the jurisdiction of the
26California Environmental Protection Agency.

27(c) The Environmental Protection Agency shall post on its Web
28site, updated no later than December 1 of each year, the status of
29the implementation of this section.

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