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ACA-25 State of emergency: remote legislative proceedings.(2019-2020)

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Corrected  May 22, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Constitutional Amendment
No. 25


Introduced by Assembly Members Mullin, Ting, Cooley, and Waldron
(Principal coauthors: Assembly Members Bonta, Chiu, Gipson, and Low)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Aguiar-Curry, Berman, Bloom, Cunningham, Daly, Eggman, Kalra, Levine, Nazarian, Quirk, Quirk-Silva, Reyes, Luz Rivas, Blanca Rubio, Smith, and Wicks)

May 21, 2020


A resolution to propose to the people of the State of California an amendment to the Constitution of the State, by adding Section 21.5 to Article IV thereof, relating to the Legislature.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


ACA 25, as introduced, Mullin. State of emergency: remote legislative proceedings.
The California Constitution requires the Legislature to convene in regular session on specified dates and provides that a majority of the membership constitutes a quorum, although a lesser number may recess from day to day and compel the attendance of absent members. The California Constitution requires the proceedings of each house of the Legislature to be open and public and recognizes the right of the public to attend, record, and broadcast those proceedings. The California Constitution authorizes the Legislature to provide for the convening of the Legislature to meet the needs resulting from a war-caused or enemy-caused disaster in the state.
This measure would permit Members to remotely attend and vote in a legislative proceeding, or to vote by proxy in a legislative proceeding if permitted by their house, during the pendency of a state of emergency declared by the Governor or the President of the United States, under specified conditions. The measure would provide, among other conditions, that a Member attending remotely would be included in the determination of a quorum.
The measure would provide that if 1/5 or more of the Members of a house cannot attend a proceeding during a state of emergency because they are deceased, disabled, or missing, a quorum may be established by a majority of those Members able to attend. The measure would specify that the Legislature may provide by statute for temporarily filling the vacant offices of Members with pro tempore members in the event that 1/5 or more of the Members of a house are deceased, disabled, or missing during a state of emergency.
The measure would permit the Legislature to restrict the public’s physical access to a proceeding subject to this provision if warranted by the circumstances of the state of emergency or by the manner in which the proceeding was conducted, subject to an aggrieved party’s right to challenge the restriction in a civil action.
The measure would require the Legislature by concurrent resolution, or each house by separate resolutions, 2/3 of the membership concurring, to adopt rules to implement this provision no later than the end of the biennial legislative session in which this measure takes effect, except as specified.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

Resolved by the Assembly, the Senate concurring, That the Legislature of the State of California at its 2019–20 Regular Session commencing on the third day of December 2018, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, hereby proposes to the people of the State of California that the Constitution of the State be amended as follows:

 That Section 21.5 is added to Article IV thereof, to read:

SEC. 21.5.
 (a) To conduct the business of the people and to maintain continuity of government, Members of the Legislature, through the use of technology and without being physically present in the State Capitol, may attend and vote remotely in a legislative proceeding, or vote by proxy in a legislative proceeding if authorized by their house pursuant to subdivision (h), during the pendency of a state of emergency declared by the President of the United States or the Governor.
(b) For purposes of remote participation in a legislative proceeding during a state of emergency, the following shall apply:
(1) The vote of a Member remotely attending a proceeding shall have the same force and effect as if the Member were physically present in the State Capitol.
(2) A Member remotely attending a proceeding shall be included in the determination of a quorum.
(3) Except as provided in paragraph (4), the participation of a Member remotely attending a proceeding shall be included in the audiovisual recording required by paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 7.
(4) (A) A house, or the Legislature if a proceeding involves Members from both houses, may waive the requirements of paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 7 by a rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership concurring, if compliance is not practicable under the circumstances of the state of emergency.
(B) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 7, a house, or the Legislature if a proceeding involves Members from both houses, may restrict the public’s physical access to a proceeding if such access is not practicable under the circumstances of the state of emergency or due to the manner in which the proceeding is conducted. Restrictions shall be no greater than necessary to ensure the health and safety of Members, legislative employees, and members of the public.
(C) An aggrieved party shall have standing to challenge a waiver adopted pursuant to subparagraph (A), or a restriction made pursuant to subparagraph (B), in an action for declaratory and injunctive relief.
(c) As used in this section, “state of emergency” means the existence of conditions of disaster or of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within the State, or parts thereof, including, but not limited to, such conditions as an attack or probable or imminent attack by an enemy of the United States, fire, flood, storm, insurrection, earthquake, volcanic eruption, or pandemic or other public health emergency.
(d) The Legislature, or each house, shall choose technology to effectuate this section that furthers the goals of security, the integrity and efficiency of the legislative process, and accessibility for Members who participate in proceedings remotely and members of the public who seek to view proceedings conducted by remote participation.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, if one-fifth or more of the Members of a house are unable to attend a legislative proceeding during a state of emergency because they are deceased, disabled, or missing, a quorum of the house shall be established by a majority of its Members able to attend.
(f) The Legislature may provide by statute for the temporary filling of vacant offices of Members with pro tempore members in the event that one-fifth or more of the Members of a house are deceased, disabled, or missing during a state of emergency.
(g) A Member’s authorization to attend and vote remotely, and to vote by proxy if applicable, shall end upon the termination of the state of emergency.
(h) (1) The Legislature by concurrent resolution, or each house by separate resolutions, shall, by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership concurring, adopt rules to implement this section before the end of the biennial legislative session in which this section takes effect, or before the end of the next biennial legislative session if this section takes effect between sessions. The Legislature or each house, as applicable, may amend rules adopted pursuant to this paragraph by subsequent resolution, by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership concurring.
(2) A resolution adopted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall specify rules for remote attendance and voting, and shall include procedures for authenticating a Member’s remote attendance and voting. The resolution may permit Members to vote by proxy, in which case the resolution shall specify rules for this method of voting and shall include procedures for authenticating a Member’s proxy vote.
(3) Until a resolution described in paragraph (1) is adopted and applicable to a Member’s house, a Member may remotely attend and vote in proceedings as permitted by the Member’s house.

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CORRECTIONS:
Heading—Line 5.
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