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AB-1291 State bodies: open meetings.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 07/12/2021 09:00 PM

Assembly Bill No. 1291

An act to amend Section 11125.7 of the Government Code, relating to public meetings.

[ Approved by Governor  July 09, 2021. Filed with Secretary of State  July 09, 2021. ]


AB 1291, Frazier. State bodies: open meetings.
The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act requires that meetings of a state body be open and public and that all persons be permitted to attend, with certain exceptions. Existing law provides that, subject to certain exceptions and reasonable regulations, the state body shall provide members of the public an opportunity to directly address the state body on agenda items. Existing law authorizes the state body to limit the amount of time allotted for each member of the public to speak, but specifies that members of the public who use translators shall be given twice that allotted amount of time.
This bill would also require a state body, when it limits time for public comment, to provide at least twice the allotted time to a member of the public who utilizes translating technology to address the state body. The bill would additionally make technical, nonsubstantive changes.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


 Section 11125.7 of the Government Code is amended to read:

 (a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the state body shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the state body on each agenda item before or during the state body’s discussion or consideration of the item. This section is not applicable if the agenda item has already been considered by a committee composed exclusively of members of the state body at a public meeting where interested members of the public were afforded the opportunity to address the committee on the item, before or during the committee’s consideration of the item, unless the item has been substantially changed since the committee heard the item, as determined by the state body. Every notice for a special meeting at which action is proposed to be taken on an item shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the state body concerning that item prior to action on the item. In addition, the notice requirement of Section 11125 shall not preclude the acceptance of testimony at meetings, other than emergency meetings, from members of the public if no action is taken by the state body at the same meeting on matters brought before the body by members of the public.
(b) The state body may adopt reasonable regulations to ensure that the intent of subdivision (a) is carried out, including, but not limited to, regulations limiting the total amount of time allocated for public comment on particular issues and for each individual speaker.
(c) (1) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), when a state body limits time for public comment the state body shall provide at least twice the allotted time to a member of the public who utilizes a translator or other translating technology to ensure that non-English speakers receive the same opportunity to directly address the state body.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply if the state body utilizes simultaneous translation equipment in a manner that allows the state body to hear the translated public testimony simultaneously.
(d) The state body shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies, programs, or services of the state body, or of the acts or omissions of the state body. Nothing in this subdivision shall confer any privilege or protection for expression beyond that otherwise provided by law.
(e) This section is not applicable to any of the following:
(1) Closed sessions held pursuant to Section 11126.
(2) Decisions regarding proceedings held pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500), relating to administrative adjudication, or to the conduct of those proceedings.
(3) Hearings conducted by the California Victim Compensation Board pursuant to Sections 13963 and 13963.1.
(4) Agenda items that involve decisions of the Public Utilities Commission regarding adjudicatory hearings held pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 1701) of Part 1 of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code. For all other agenda items, the commission shall provide members of the public, other than those who have already participated in the proceedings underlying the agenda item, an opportunity to directly address the commission before or during the commission’s consideration of the item.