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New Legislation Addresses Brown Act Teleconferencing Requirements 

by Steven Miller

Published: September, 2021

Submission: September, 2021

 



Key Points

  • Assembly Bill (AB) 361 allows an agency to use teleconferencing for public meetings without requiring the teleconference location to be accessible to the public or a quorum of the members of the legislative body of the agency to participate from locations within the boundaries of the agency's jurisdiction during proclaimed state of emergencies.
  • The modified teleconferencing requirements are effective until January 1, 2024, as of which date they are repealed, and the normal Brown Act teleconferencing requirements become operative.

Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 361 (Rivas) into law to address Brown Act teleconferencing requirements for local agencies.


AB 361, an urgency measure that is effective immediately, amends Government Code section 54953 to allow a local agency to use teleconferencing for public meetings without requiring the teleconference location be accessible to the public or a quorum of the members of the legislative body of the agency participate from locations within the boundaries of the agency's jurisdiction in the following circumstances:


  • The legislative body holds a meeting during a proclaimed state of emergency, and state or local officials have imposed or recommended measures to promote social distancing.
  • The legislative body holds a meeting during a proclaimed state of emergency to determine, by majority vote, whether as a result of the emergency, meeting in person would present imminent risks to the health or safety of attendees; or
  • The legislative body holds a meeting during a proclaimed state of emergency and has determined, by majority vote, as a result of the emergency, meeting in person would present imminent risks to the health or safety of attendees.

The legislative body must make certain findings by majority vote every 30 days to continue using the relaxed Brown Act teleconferencing requirements. The bill also provides how a public agency should react in the event of a disruption that prevents it from broadcasting the meeting to the public. These new provisions are only operative until January 1, 2024, at which point they are repealed, and the standard Brown Act teleconferencing requirements become effective again.


Lastly, AB 361 adds certain teleconferencing requirements for student body organizations under the Gloria Romero Open Meetings Act of 2000 and for state bodies under the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act.


Governor Newsom has not yet signed into law AB 339, a similar bill addressing Brown Act teleconferencing requirements. The Governor has until October 10 to veto the bill, or it will become law. We will provide another update on AB 339 when the Governor acts.


 

 



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