Emergency Remote Meetings (AB 557)


On February 8, Assembly Member Gregg Hart (D–37) introduced Assembly Bill 557, CSDA's 2023 sponsored bill on the Brown Act. This bill follows the successful passage of Assembly Bill 361 (R. Rivas, 2021), which established modified remote meeting procedures within the Brown Act for local agencies meeting during specified emergencies. AB 557 was signed by the Governor on October 8, 2023.


Local agencies have been able to utilize the procedures established by AB 361 to meet remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 state of emergency in California will terminate at the end of February 2023, whereupon local agencies will no longer be able to use AB 361 for COVID-19-related reasons. However, local agencies may rely on AB 361’s provisions after February should there be a different emergency (e.g., flooding, wildfires, earthquakes) that makes it unsafe to meet in-person, so long as that emergency is accompanied by a formal state of emergency declaration made by the Governor.


This was going to be the case until the end of 2023. After that point, the provisions added to the Brown Act by AB 361 were originally set to expire on their own terms, and agencies would completely cease to be able to rely on the process established by AB 361. In order to preserve the modified remote meeting procedures beyond the end of 2023, CSDA sponsored AB 557, which abolished the sunset that have would otherwise repealed these procedures.


AB 557 also made one minor change to the timeframe for the renewal resolutions required under the AB 361 framework. Currently, the terms of AB 361 require that an agency looking to rely on its provisions beyond 30 days must pass a resolution recognizing that the state of emergency that prompted the transition to remote meetings remains active, and that conditions persist that prevent the agency from holding meetings safely in-person. AB 557 changed this to 45 days, providing agencies with an additional two weeks and accommodating those agencies that meet monthly on a fixed date that may occasionally fall outside of the original 30-day window provided by AB 361.