Senator Dave Cortese, (D-Silicon Valley), and Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) believe it’s time to modernize the Brown Act to meet the unique needs of our present day.
The Ralph M. Brown Act was originally enacted in 1953 to govern the conduct of public meetings for local legislative bodies, but many provisions in the Brown Act remain antiquated.
Last year, as local officials in Silicon Valley including AAPI public officials such as Los Gatos Mayor Marico Sayoc faced targeted bullying and harassment efforts, Senator Cortese and Assemblymember Low expressed their support for establishing mechanisms to de-escalate disruptions during public meetings that significantly interrupt public business.
“This is for the safety of our public, and the safety of our public officials,” said Senator Cortese. “Across California, public officials and attendees continue to deal with disorderly conduct during meetings at such a high magnitude that critical business and the legislative process as a whole has become significantly impaired.”
SB 1100 by Senator Cortese (author) and Assemblymember Evan Low (principal co-author) would ensure safe, open, and accessible public meetings by creating a process to restore order when disruptions occur that prevent a meeting from continuing in accordance with law.
“It is critical for us to have transparency in the legislative process while also ensuring that we maintain the safety of the public and our public officials who continue to support our community each and every day,” says Assemblymember Evan Low.
Marico Sayoc, Los Gatos Councilmember said, “Local government is the essence of democracy. It’s where elected officials and constituents come together to make their communities stronger and more vibrant. I look forward to collaborating with Senator Cortese and Assemblymember Low as they work to ensure local governments can continue to serve their residents without disruptions caused by malicious attempts to intimidate people who are participating in democracy.”
The Brown Act, as it stands, authorizes a legislative body to address disruptions through removal of an individual or group of individuals who “willfully interrupt” the proceedings of a public meeting. But the characterization of what exactly constitutes a “willful interruption” remains vague and existing procedures in law for the de-escalation of disruptions are minimal.
SB 1100 would define what a “willful interruption” is to ensure an individual(s) is removed from a public meeting if they substantially impair or render infeasible the orderly conduct of the meeting in accordance with law and establish a warning system to require that removal of an individual(s) causing a willful interruption be preceded by a request that the individual curtail their disruptive behavior or be subject to removal