State Suspends Key Brown Act Provisions

It sounds like a joke, but from what I’ve read here and here and elsewhere, one largely-unnoticed aspect of the state’s new budget is that key provisions of the Brown Act have been effectively suspended.  As I understand it, the Brown Act requires local jurisdictions to provide 72 hours notice before meetings, and to publish closed session reports (among many other requirements).  The state then reimburses the jurisdiction for some of the cost associated with that noticing.  The state eliminated that reimbursement funding from this year’s budget, and as an unfunded mandate, cities supposedly aren’t required by law to abide by those Brown Act provisions as a consequence.  This move will save the state a whopping $96 million (sarcasm intended), at the potential cost of significant amounts of public disclosure that have served residents extremely well over the past several decades.

So jurisdictions are scrambling to figure out what that means (those that have noticed and which care about this).  In Sunnyvale, this should be a non-issue.  Our Council Policy actually requires us to provide the same noticing that the Brown Act requiresused to require as a matter of law.  So even if we’re not subject to the Brown Act, we will still follow our own policy.  And as a matter of process, we’ve been deliberately providing 96 hours of advance meeting notice instead of the required 72 hours for several years now.

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