Special Districts Amended Out of Costly Unfunded Brown Act Mandate

By Vanessa Gonzales posted 05-03-2021 05:42 PM


At its legislative hearing last week, California’s Assembly Local Government Committee amended Assembly Bill 339 by Assembly Member Alex Lee (D-San Jose) to remove costly unfunded Brown Act mandates on special districts and most other local governments.


Prior to the amendments, AB 339 would have mandated all local public agency meetings to provide the public the option to attend and provide public comment in-person, over the phone, and online. Instructions for joining meetings would have been required in the two most spoken languages other than English within the boundaries of the local agency, and meeting agendas would need to have been made available upon request to all non-English-speaking persons within the boundaries of the jurisdiction in their language of choice regardless of their language ability.


All of the mandates within AB 339 would have come without funding and would not have been eligible for reimbursement from the State of California. Moreover, none of the mandates would have applied to the State Legislature nor state agencies.


CSDA and its membership strive to promote and practice transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, the unfunded mandates within AB 339 that even the State of California could not afford to implement would have been untenable for special districts and most other local agencies to implement. Fortunately, thanks to the lobbying efforts of CSDA, member districts, and others, the bill has been significantly amended to only apply to cities and counties with populations of 250,000 or more. In addition, the scope of the bill was narrowed to simply require an option for the public to participate in meetings by either phone or internet.


Until the bill language is updated and in print, the accepted amendments can be found on pages 11 and 12 of the Committee Analysis.


Thank you to all the districts that submitted letters of opposition to this legislation and let their legislators know about the potential impacts this bill would have had on their districts.

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