Governor Newsom extends remote government meetings amid wildfires and ongoing pandemic

The bill allows agencies to meet remotely until the end of the year.

Information provided by the office of Assembly member Robert Rivas

The office of Assembly Member Robert Rivas announced that Governor Newsom signed Rivas Assembly Bill 361 on September 16. This bill will temporarily offer state agencies and local legislative bodies the ability to meet remotely in the event of an emergency, such as a wildfire or pandemic.

According to the statement, this legislation will ensure the provision of essential government services to Californians during times of crisis while maintaining high levels of transparency and public access.

“State agencies and local legislative bodies provide essential services such as water, electricity and fire protection – it is essential that the public is engaged safely in any emergency. Said Asm. Rivas. “AB 361 will allow these organizations to continue to serve their constituents remotely while requiring the public to be able to join the meeting by phone or video conference. I am grateful to Governor Newsom for enacting this bill, which will take effect immediately as we experience another record-breaking wildfire season and more COVID-19 variants. “

“While we hope that devastating emergencies never happen in our communities, AB 361 will provide local government agencies, including special districts, with the power to meet remotely to ensure the continued delivery of essential services when inevitable emergencies arise. are happening, such as floods, fires, earthquakes and even our current health emergency, ”said Neil McCormick, CEO of the California Special Districts Association.“ I congratulate Assembly Member Rivas, Governor and the legislature for their efforts on this issue to protect California communities and the services on which they depend. “

“Counties hold dozens of town hall meetings every month that must be held safely during a state of emergency, be it a pandemic, wildfire or other natural disaster.” said Graham Knaus, executive director of the California State Association of Counties. “As guardians of public health and safety, county leaders view AB 361 as a key tool for ensuring business continuity, public participation and heightened awareness in the event of an emergency.”

“Cities urgently needed AB 361 so that they could continue to provide essential services while prioritizing the health and safety of their residents and ensuring government transparency, access and government engagement. public, ”said Carolyn Coleman, general manager and CEO of the League of Cities of California. “This bill ensures that local agencies will have the flexibility to conduct government business and maintain local operations effectively and efficiently during any emergency.”

The statement added that when COVID-19 began, public agencies were to meet in person in accordance with the requirements of the Brown, Bagley-Keene and Gloria Romero laws despite shelter-in-place orders. As a result, Governor Newsom issued executive orders that temporarily waived face-to-face meeting requirements. AB 361 builds on the best practices of these decrees by allowing local legislative bodies to meet remotely during a state of emergency, as declared by the governor, until January 2024. In addition, this project This bill extends the current executive decree that allows state agencies and CSU boards to meet remotely for the next four months until January 2022.

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