California Legislature Takes Aim at Brown Act Teleconferencing Requirements 

September, 2021 - Steven Miller

Key Points

  • The State Assembly and Senate have both passed AB 361 and AB 339, two bills aimed at addressing Brown Act teleconferencing requirements in the COVID-19 landscape.
  • The Governor is expected to sign or veto the bills before October 1.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor issued an Executive Order suspending certain Brown Act constraints, and allowing for teleconference meetings without following procedural requirements that otherwise would have been in effect. The Executive Order will expire on September 30.

The California State Assembly and Senate have passed two bills—AB 339 and AB 361—aimed at addressing Brown Act teleconferencing requirements after the expiration of the Executive Order. AB 339 and AB 361 allow a public agency to continue to use teleconferencing for public meetings after October 1 without requiring that the physical teleconference location be accessible to the public or that a quorum of the members of the legislative body of the agency participate from locations within the boundaries of the agency's jurisdiction. The new rules would apply whenever there is a state of emergency and whenever social distancing recommendations are in place. The bills maintain requirements that public agencies allow the public to participate remotely, and also prohibit agencies from taking formal action on agenda items during broadcast disruptions.

The bills now move to the Governor's desk and await his veto or signature, expected promptly. AB 361 is characterized as an urgency legislation, meaning it will go into effect immediately upon the Governor's signature. There are some complexities regarding the inter-relationship of the two statutes. We will provide further update and explanation when there is more finality as to the legislative process.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


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