Legislature Passes Emergency Spending Bill, Adjourns Until April 13
On Monday, March 16, 2020, the Senate and Assembly convened and passed a major emergency spending authorization to provide resources for the Governor to respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic. The authorization of up to $1.1 billion was passed unanimously with bipartisan support and will allow the state to rapidly expand hospital capacity and provide emergency relief for schools. The Legislature also adopted amended rules to allow them to participate in remote public meetings if needed.
Following the passage of the emergency spending package, the Legislature adjourned until April 13, 2020, under the condition that it may be necessary to return earlier for further action, or conversely, to extend the hiatus based on future public health guidance. Both houses noted that although the Legislature would be in recess, legislative offices would remain open with adjustments and limitations in place to accommodate and protect legislative staff.
The extraordinary action taken by the Legislature this week will undoubtedly have a major impact on the regular order of business for the year. At this point, it remains to be seen what and how far-reaching those impacts will be for legislation of interest to CASA moving forward. We will be following the developments closely and providing updates as appropriate in the coming weeks.
Governor’s Executive Order Waives Brown Act Rules for Local Government
On Thursday, March 12, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order relating to actions to curb the spread of COVID-19. One of the actions in the order waives some open meeting law requirements to allow local and state legislative bodies to hold public meetings via teleconferencing and to make public meetings accessible telephonically or otherwise electronically to all members of the public during the period while state or local officials are imposing or recommending measures to promote social distancing.
All provisions in both the Bagley-Keene Act governing state agencies and the Brown Act expressly or impliedly requiring the physical presence of members, the clerk or other personnel of the body, or of the public, as a condition of participation in or quorum for a public meeting are waived. In particular, otherwise applicable requirements that:
- State and local bodies notice each teleconference location from which a member will be participating in a public meeting;
- Each teleconference location be accessible to the public;
- Members of the public may address the body at all teleconference locations;
- At least one member of the state body be physically present at the location specified in the notice of the meeting; and;
- During the teleconference meetings, at least a quorum of the members of the local body participate from locations within the boundaries of the territory over which the local body exercises jurisdiction;
Are hereby suspended, on the conditions that:
- Each state and local body must give advanced notice of each public meeting, according to the timeframe otherwise prescribed by the Bagley-Keene Act or the Brown Act, and using the means otherwise prescribed by the Bagley-Keene Act or the Brown Act, as applicable, and;
- Consistent with the notice requirement (above), each state or local body must notice at least one publicly accessible location from which members of the public shall have the right to observe and offer public comment at the public meeting, consistent with the public’s right of access and public comment otherwise provided for the Bagley-Keene Act and the Brown Act, as applicable (including but not limited to the requirement that such rights of access and public comment be made available in a manner consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act).
In addition to the mandatory conditions set forth above, all state and local bodies are urged to use sound discretion and to make reasonable efforts to adhere as closely as reasonably possible to the provisions of the Bagley-Keene Act and the Brown Act, and other applicable local laws regulating the conduct of public meetings, in order to maximize transparency and provide the public access to their meetings.
CASA Positions on 2020 Bills
The State Legislative Committee met on Friday, March 13, 2020, to deliberate and take positions on all of the legislation of interest in the 2020 Session. The bill positions list is now available! Please contact Jessica Gauger firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries on pending legislation.