BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  1





          Date of Hearing:  August 25, 2016 


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT


                           Susan Talamantes Eggman, Chair


          AB 1787  
          (Gomez) - As Amended August 2, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Open meetings:  public comments:  translation.


          SUMMARY:  Requires local agencies to provide at least twice the  
          allotted time for public comment to speakers who require  
          translation services.


          The Senate amendments strike the Assembly version of this bill  
          and instead:


          1)Require, when the legislative body of a local agency limits  
            time for public comment, 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 of a local agency.



          2)Provide that the above requirement shall not apply if the  
            legislative body utilizes simultaneous translation equipment  
            in a manner that allows the legislative body of a local agency  
            to hear the translated public testimony simultaneously.









                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  2






          3)Find and declare that Section 1 of the bill furthers, within  
            the meaning of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3  
            of Article I of the California Constitution, the purposes of  
            that constitutional section as it relates to the right of  
            public access to the meetings of local public bodies or the  
            writings of local public officials and local agencies, and  
            declare, pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of  
            Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution, the  
            Legislature makes the following findings:





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





          4)Provide that no reimbursement is required by this bill because  
            the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or  
            school district under this bill would result from a  
            legislative mandate that is within the scope of paragraph (7)  
            of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California  
            Constitution.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Requires, pursuant to the Brown Act, all meetings of a  
            legislative body of a local agency to be open and public and  
            all persons be permitted to attend, with specified exceptions.








                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  3







          2)Requires every agenda for regular meetings and every notice  
            for special meetings to provide an opportunity for members of  
            the public to directly address the legislative body on any  
            item of interest to the public, before or during the  
            legislative body's consideration of the item, which is within  
            the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, as  
            specified.





          3)Allows the legislative body of a local agency to adopt  
            reasonable regulations to ensure that the intent of 2), above,  
            is carried out, including, but not limited to, regulations  
            limiting the total amount of time allocated for public  
            testimony on particular issues and for each individual  
            speaker.



          4)Prohibits the legislative body of a local agency from  
            prohibiting public criticism of the policies, procedures,  
            programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or  
            omissions of the local legislative body, and provides that  
            nothing in this provision shall confer any privilege or  
            protection for expression beyond that otherwise provided by  
            law.


          5)Requires, pursuant to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act  
            (Bagley-Keene Act), state bodies to provide at least twice as  
            much time to any individual using a translator when the body  
            limits testimony, unless the body uses simultaneous  
            translation technology that allows the body to hear the  
            translation simultaneously.









                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  4






          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, pursuant to Senate Rule 28.8, negligible state costs.


          COMMENTS:  


          1)Bill Summary.  This bill requires the legislative body of a  
            local agency that limits time for public comment 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 of a local agency.  The bill's provisions do  
            not apply if the legislative body utilizes simultaneous  
            translation equipment in a manner that allows the legislative  
            body to hear the translated public testimony simultaneously.



            This bill is sponsored by the author.





          2)Author's Statement.  According to the author, "AB 1787  
            requires local public agencies that limit time for public  
            comment to provide at least twice the allotted time to a  
            member of the public who uses a translator to ensure that  
            non-English speakers receive an equal opportunity to directly  
            address their representatives.  Our democracy and communities  
            can only thrive when our diverse constituencies have the equal  
            opportunity to participate in civic discourse and shape the  
            decisions that affect their neighborhoods and lives."


          3)Background.  The Brown Act and the Bagley-Keene Act generally  
            require state and local agencies to hold open meetings,  








                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  5





            publicly notice their meetings, prepare agendas, accept public  
            testimony, and conduct their meetings in public, with specific  
            exceptions.  State and local agencies must provide the public  
            with the opportunity to comment on each agenda item and may  
            adopt reasonable rules to ensure equal access.  


            In 2012, the Legislature amended the Bagley-Keene Act to  
            require a state body to provide at least twice as much time to  
            any individual using a translator when the body limits  
            testimony, unless the body uses simultaneous translation  
            technology that allows the body to hear the translation  
            simultaneously.  The Brown Act does not contain such a  
            provision.  This bill would amend the Brown Act to require  
            local agencies to comply with this requirement.


            This bill was prompted by public meetings held in 2009 in  
            Kings County during the process of expanding a hazardous waste  
            facility near Kettleman City.  English speakers were allotted  
            a maximum of five minutes to provide public comment.  However,  
            non-English speakers were allowed only two and a half minutes  
            to comment, with the remaining time allotted for translation.


          4)Proposition 42.  Proposition 42 was passed by voters on June  
            3, 2014, and requires all local governments to comply with the  
            California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown Act and  
            with any subsequent changes to those Acts.  Proposition 42  
            also eliminated reimbursement to local agencies for costs of  
            complying with the California Public Records Act and the Ralph  
            M. Brown Act.



            This bill contains language that says that the Legislature  
            finds and declares that Section 1 of the bill furthers the  
            purpose of the California Constitution as it relates to the  
            right of public access to the meetings of local public bodies  








                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  6





            or the writings of local public officials and local agencies.   
            Pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of  
            Article I of the Constitution, the bill also includes a  
            finding that says that "Because this act restricts the  
            authority of a legislative body of a local agency under the  
            Ralph M. Brown Act to limit time for public comment by a  
            speaker who uses a translator, the act furthers the purpose of  
            Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution." 





            Section 3 of the bill specifies that no reimbursement is  
            required by this bill because "the only costs that may be  
            incurred by a local agency or school district?would result  
            from a legislative mandate that is within the scope of  
            paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of  
            the California Constitution."


          5)Support Arguments.  The League of California Cities, the  
            California State Association of Counties, and the California  
            Special Districts Association, in support, state, "Under the  
            Ralph M. Brown Act, local legislative bodies are required to  
            provide an opportunity for members of the public to comment on  
            any points mentioned in the meeting agenda.  The act  
            authorizes legislative bodies to reasonably limit the time for  
            each individual public speaker.  If not accommodated,  
            individuals who need to utilize a translator may be  
            disadvantaged by time restrictions.  



            "AB 1787 addresses this issue by requiring the legislative  
            body to provide at least twice the allotted time to members of  
            the public who need a translator to address legislative  
            bodies.  Providing the public with equal access to their  
            government is a cornerstone of modern democracy.  Not speaking  








                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  7





            English should not prevent some members of the public from  
            having their voices equally heard by their legislative  
            bodies."





          6)Opposition Arguments.  None on file.


          


























          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:








                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  8









          Support


          Asamblea de Gonzales 


          California Communities Against Toxics 


          California Environmental Justice Coalition 


          California Safe Schools 


          California Special Districts Association


          California State Association of Counties


          Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment 


          Central California Environmental Justice Network


          Comite Civico Del Valle 


          Community Food & Justice Coalition  


          Del Amo Action Committee 









                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  9






          Desert Protection Society 


          El Pueblo Para el Aire y Agua Limpia/People for Clean Air and  
          Water of Kettleman City  


          Environmental Health Coalition 


          Environmental Justice Coalition for Water 


          Food Empowerment Project 


          Grayson Neighborhood Council 


          Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice 


          Healthy 880 Communities 


          Huntersview Mothers and Fathers Committee for Health and  
          Environmental Justice 


          Idle No More SF Bay 


          IVAN Network 


          La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle 










                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  10





          Label GMOs California's Grassroots 


          League of California Cities


          Los Angeles Environmental Justice Network 


          Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) 


          Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)


          Valley Improvement Projects 


          West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Air and Safe Jobs 


          West County Toxics Coalition 


          West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project




          Opposition


          None on file




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









                                                                    AB 1787


                                                                    Page  11