Client Alert - AB 557 & AB 817

On February 8, 2023 Assembly Bill 557 was introduced by Assembly Member Hart. AB 557 seeks to modify the remote meeting procedures within the Brown Act for local agencies meeting during specified declared emergencies or in other situations related to public health, that were implemented through AB 361 and AB 2449.

AB 361, which expires end of 2023, authorizes a local agency to use teleconferencing without complying with certain teleconferencing requirements that were required by the Brown Act prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in specified circumstances when a declared state of emergency was in effect, or in other situations related to public health. AB 2449, which expires end of 2025, modernized existing teleconferencing requirements under the Brown Act by allowing, in limited circumstances, less than a quorum of a legislative body to attend meetings remotely without posting their location and removing the requirement for public participation in a nonpublic location, if at least a quorum does meet in person from a single location identified on the agenda and the location is open to the public and situated within the local agency’s jurisdiction.

If adopted by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, AB 557 would indefinitely preserve the modified remote meeting procedures established through AB 361 and AB 2449 beyond the end of 2023 (for AB 361) and the end of 2025 (for AB 2449), by essentially abolishing the sunset that would otherwise repeal these procedures. AB 557 also makes a minor change to the timeframe for the renewal resolutions required under the AB 361. Currently under AB 361, each agency is required to make specified findings not later than 30 days after the first teleconferenced meeting, and to make those findings every 30 days thereafter, in order to continue to meet under these abbreviated teleconferencing procedures. The 30 day period would be changed to 45 days.

On February 13, 2023 Assembly Bill 817 was introduced by Assembly Member Pacheco. If adopted by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, AB 817 would allow non-decision making bodies—referred to as subsidiary bodies (e.g., advisory boards or commissions)—currently governed by the Brown Act to use indefinitely and without regard to a state of emergency, alternative teleconferencing provisions similar to those permitted under current Brown Act emergency provisions to allow participation in two-way virtual teleconferencing without posting the physical location of the members. This would be allowed if the legislative body that established the subsidiary body by charter, ordinance, resolution, or other formal action, makes specified findings by majority vote, before the subsidiary body uses teleconferencing for the first time and every 12 months thereafter, and further provided that such legislative body make certain findings required by the State Constitution.

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