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Hoover report urges more remote-meeting access

Hoover report urges more remote-meeting access

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The Little Hoover Commission released a report that urges Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature to update the state’s open meeting law — the Bagley-Keene Act — to include increased access to all public meetings and the removal of barriers to remote participation.

After surveying the experience of 124 state boards or commissions covered by Bagley-Keene, and receiving a response from 46, the report says all of the agencies who responded said they had held entirely remote meetings during the pandemic, and about a third said they had actually met more frequently due to their ability to meet remotely. Most agencies reported a variety of positive outcomes from the remote meetings: greater public participation, more frequent attendance by board and commission members, and reduced costs to the state. Of those agencies that have witnesses testify, nearly half reported that it was easier to secure witnesses; Little Hoover Commission echoed all of these findings.

AB 339, a bill concerning open and public government meetings, would have allowed remote participation. However, the bill, which has been chipped away as it has gone through each committee, removed the Bagley-Keene provisions prior to being referred out of the rules committee.

The Little Hoover Commission recommends the Legislature and the governor amend Bagley-Keene to allow for the remote participation of board and commission members without required public disclosure and public accessibility to those locations, making these changes permanent.

CNPA is in favor of expanding access via requiring streaming/telephonic participation, but has serious concerns about removing the requirements that at least a quorum be in one physical location to ensure access to public officials. The public must be able to directly address their public officials.

Here is the Little Hoover Commission report: https://lhc.ca.gov/report/government-tomorrow-online-meetings

— Ryce Stoughtenborough, CNPA Intern

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