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AB-992 Open meetings: local agencies: social media.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 04/22/2019 09:00 PM
AB992:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 22, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 992


Introduced by Assembly Member Mullin

February 21, 2019


An act to amend Section 54952.2 of the Government Code, relating to local government.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 992, as amended, Mullin. Open meetings: local agencies: social media.
The Ralph M. Brown Act generally requires that the meetings of legislative bodies of local agencies be conducted openly. That act defines “meeting” for purposes of the act and expressly excludes certain activities from the application of the act. prohibits a majority of the members of a legislative body, outside a meeting authorized by the act, from using a series of communications of any kind to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.
This bill would provide that the act prohibition described above does not apply to the posting, commenting, liking, interaction with, or participation in, internet-based social media platforms that are ephemeral, live, or static, participation, as defined, in an internet-based social media platform, as defined, by a majority of the members of a legislative body, provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among themselves themselves, as defined, business of a specific nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency.
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.
The California Constitution requires local agencies, for the purpose of ensuring public access to the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies, to comply with a statutory enactment that amends or enacts laws relating to public records or open meetings and contains findings demonstrating that the enactment furthers the constitutional requirements relating to this purpose.
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 54952.2 of the Government Code is amended to read:

54952.2.
 (a) As used in this chapter, “meeting” means any congregation of a majority of the members of a legislative body at the same time and location, including teleconference location as permitted by Section 54953, to hear, discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.
(b) (1) A majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall not be construed as preventing an employee or official of a local agency, from engaging in separate conversations or communications outside of a meeting authorized by this chapter with members of a legislative body in order to answer questions or provide information regarding a matter that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the local agency, if that person does not communicate to members of the legislative body the comments or position of any other member or members of the legislative body.
(c) Nothing in this section shall impose the requirements of this chapter upon any of the following:
(1) Individual contacts or conversations between a member of a legislative body and any other person that do not violate subdivision (b).
(2) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative body at a conference or similar gathering open to the public that involves a discussion of issues of general interest to the public or to public agencies of the type represented by the legislative body, provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among themselves, other than as part of the scheduled program, business of a specified nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the local agency. Nothing in this paragraph is intended to allow members of the public free admission to a conference or similar gathering at which the organizers have required other participants or registrants to pay fees or charges as a condition of attendance.
(3) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative body at an open and publicized meeting organized to address a topic of local community concern by a person or organization other than the local agency, provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among themselves, other than as part of the scheduled program, business of a specific nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency.
(4) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative body at an open and noticed meeting of another body of the local agency, or at an open and noticed meeting of a legislative body of another local agency, provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among themselves, other than as part of the scheduled meeting, business of a specific nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency.
(5) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative body at a purely social or ceremonial occasion, provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among themselves business of a specific nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency.
(6) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative body at an open and noticed meeting of a standing committee of that body, provided that the members of the legislative body who are not members of the standing committee attend only as observers.

(7)(A)The posting, commenting, liking, interaction with, or participation in, internet-based social media platforms that are ephemeral, live, or static, by a majority of the members of a legislative body, provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among themselves business of a specific nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency.

(B)For purposes of this paragraph, all of the following definitions shall apply:

(i)“Ephemeral” means sharing a video, photo, or other content that is temporary in nature, including, but not limited to, Snapchat Stories, Facebook Stories, or Instagram Stories.

(ii)“Live” means a video or commenting post that is synchronous and happens live, including, but not limited to, Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) or Facebook Live.

(iii)“Static” means a post in the form of a video, photo, or text that is viewable by members of the public, including, but not limited to, a Twitter status update, YouTube video, Facebook post, or Instagram post.

(d) (1) The prohibition contained in subdivision (b) shall not apply to the participation in an internet-based social media platform by a majority of the members of a legislative body, provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among themselves business of a specific nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, all of the following definitions shall apply:
(A) “Discuss among themselves” means communications made, posted, or shared on an internet-based social media platform between members of a legislative body. “Discuss among themselves” does not include either of the following:
(i) Individual communications made, posted, or shared by one or more members of a legislative body on an internet-based social media platform, provided that the communications do not respond directly to communications made, posted, or shared by any other member of the legislative body.
(ii) Communications made through the use of digital icons that express reactions to information, ideas, or opinions by others.
(B) “Generally open and available to the public” means that members of the general public have the ability to participate in the internet-based social media platform and are not blocked from doing so by a member of the legislative body.
(C) “Internet-based social media platform” means an online service that is generally open and available to the public.
(D) “Participation” means the act of publicizing information, ideas, or opinions electronically according to the protocols or rules of an internet-based social media platform.

SEC. 2.

 The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of this act, which amends Section 54952.2 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:
The limitations on the people’s right of access set forth in this act are necessary to ensure the free flow of communications between members of a legislative body of a local agency and the public on internet-based social media platforms.

SEC. 3.

 The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of this act, which amends Section 54952.2 of the Government Code, furthers, within the meaning of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution, the purposes of that constitutional section as it relates to the right of public access to the meetings of local public bodies or the writings of local public officials and local agencies. Pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution, the Legislature makes the following findings:
This act is necessary to ensure the free flow of communications between members of a legislative body of a local agency and the public on internet-based social media platforms.