Assembly member seeks to loosen rules for teleconferencing in public meetings

This week, Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) introduced AB 2958, which would allow state agencies to meet by teleconference without providing public access to the individual meeting sites. CNPA opposes this effort to change current law.

The bill amends the Bagley-Keene Act which parallel’s the same provision in the Ralph M. Brown Act. It would do away with the requirement that if a member of a board is participating in a public meeting by teleconference, she must properly notice the location where she will be participating from, post an agenda for the meeting, and permit the public to attend that meeting location.

The purpose of the current law is to protect the integrity of the agency decision-making process. It forces individual public officials to face their constituents in order to do public business. Relaxing the current rule would allow officials to literally phone-in the tough votes and avoid in-person public scrutiny.

CNPA will continue working with Assemblyman Quirk’s office to discuss alternative approaches that maintain the law’s current level of access and accountability. The bill will likely be heard by committee in March or April.