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AB-246 Local government: open meetings.(2013-2014)

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Assembly Bill No. 246
CHAPTER 11

An act to amend Section 54957 of the Government Code, relating to local government.

[ Approved by Governor  June 24, 2013. Filed with Secretary of State  June 24, 2013. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 246, Bradford. Local government: open meetings.
The Ralph M. Brown Act requires each legislative body of a local agency to provide the time and place for holding regular meetings and requires that all meetings of a legislative body be open and public. Under the act, all persons are permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, unless a closed session is authorized. Under the act, the legislative body of a local agency is authorized to hold closed sessions with the Attorney General, district attorney, agency counsel, sheriff, or chief of police, or their respective deputies, or a security consultant or a security operations manager, on matters posing a threat to the security of public buildings, a threat to the security of essential public services, as specified, or a threat to the public’s right of access to public services or public facilities.
This bill additionally would authorize the legislative body of a local agency to hold these closed sessions with the Governor. This bill also makes various technical nonsubstantive changes.
Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.
This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 54957 of the Government Code is amended to read:

54957.
 (a) This chapter shall not be construed to prevent the legislative body of a local agency from holding closed sessions with the Governor, Attorney General, district attorney, agency counsel, sheriff, or chief of police, or their respective deputies, or a security consultant or a security operations manager, on matters posing a threat to the security of public buildings, a threat to the security of essential public services, including water, drinking water, wastewater treatment, natural gas service, and electric service, or a threat to the public’s right of access to public services or public facilities.
(b) (1) Subject to paragraph (2), this chapter shall not be construed to prevent the legislative body of a local agency from holding closed sessions during a regular or special meeting to consider the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline, or dismissal of a public employee or to hear complaints or charges brought against the employee by another person or employee unless the employee requests a public session.
(2) As a condition to holding a closed session on specific complaints or charges brought against an employee by another person or employee, the employee shall be given written notice of his or her right to have the complaints or charges heard in an open session rather than a closed session, which notice shall be delivered to the employee personally or by mail at least 24 hours before the time for holding the session. If notice is not given, any disciplinary or other action taken by the legislative body against the employee based on the specific complaints or charges in the closed session shall be null and void.
(3) The legislative body also may exclude from the public or closed meeting, during the examination of a witness, any or all other witnesses in the matter being investigated by the legislative body.
(4) For the purposes of this subdivision, the term “employee” shall include an officer or an independent contractor who functions as an officer or an employee but shall not include any elected official, member of a legislative body or other independent contractors. This subdivision shall not limit local officials’ ability to hold closed session meetings pursuant to Sections 1461, 32106, and 32155 of the Health and Safety Code or Sections 37606 and 37624.3 of the Government Code. Closed sessions held pursuant to this subdivision shall not include discussion or action on proposed compensation except for a reduction of compensation that results from the imposition of discipline.

SEC. 2.

 The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of this act, which amends Section 54957 of the Government Code, imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies within the meaning of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional provision, the Legislature makes the following findings to demonstrate the interest protected by this limitation and the need for protecting that interest:
Without some freedom to protect sensitive information, security is compromised. Therefore, the health and safety of the people of California are enhanced by giving governing bodies the authority to meet with the Governor in closed meetings to discuss security matters that may include sensitive information.