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Costly Brown Act Legislation to Receive First Hearing

By Vanessa Gonzales posted 04-26-2021 03:14 PM


Government can always do more to promote transparency and accessibility. The challenge comes with paying for it. That is the case with Assembly Bill 339 (Lee, San Jose) which is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee on Wednesday, April 28. AB 339 would place significant unfunded mandates on all local governments in the name of access.


Specifically, AB 339 amends the Brown Act and will require the following of all special districts and other local governments:


  • All meetings, including sub-committees, advisory committees, and governing body meetings must provide the public the option to attend and provide public comment in-person, over the phone, AND online (with two-way video and audio)
  • Registration for public comment is allowed, but must remain open until the comment period has finished for that agenda item
  • Instructions for joining meetings must be made available in the two most spoken languages other than English within the boundaries of the local agency
  • The meeting agenda should be made available upon request to all non-English-speaking persons within the boundaries of the jurisdiction in their language regardless of their language ability
  • All members of the public shall be entitled to participate in public meetings, regardless of national origin or language ability. If interpretation services are requested for the public meeting and public comment period, those services should be provided by the public agency
  • Local agencies shall have in place a system for requesting and receiving interpretation services for public meetings, including the public comment period. Local agencies shall publicize this system and the instructions on how to request certified interpretation services for public meetings online.


Because the new requirements are being placed in the Brown Act nothing in this bill is reimbursable. Additionally, this bill was recently amended removing any new requirements on the State or the Legislature and now only applies to local governments. Again, the new requirements contained within AB 339 apply to all local governments subject to the Brown Act and does not provide any exemptions for agencies based on their size, financial resources, or services offered.


While CSDA continues to encourage special districts to ensure the public’s access to the governments that serve them, we are opposed to one-size-fits-all unfunded mandates, particularly when they come in the form of do as I say, not as I do, placing higher standards of access on local governments, which simply by their proximity are more accessible than the State and Legislature.


CSDA, along with the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties, Association of California Healthcare Districts, and other local government organizations are opposed to this costly unfunded mandate and will keep you informed on developments related to AB 339 as the bill goes through the legislative process.


 #BrownAct #Governance #Mandates