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California Senate Constitutional Amendment 7, Public Bodies Required to Post Agendas (June 2012)
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The California State Senate unanimously approved SCA 7 on June 1, 2011. It had to be approved by a 2/3rds supermajority vote of the California State Assembly before it could be certified to appear on a statewide ballot for potential approval of the California electorate.
The ballot title approved by the state senate read, "A resolution to propose to the people of the State of California an amendment to the Constitution of the State, by amending Section 3 of Article I thereof, relating to meetings of public bodies."
California's Brown Act allows local units of government to charge fees to the state government for costs they incur to comply with the Brown Act. The Commission on State Mandates reimburses local agencies about $20 million a year for what they say are the costs associated with posting copies of meeting agendas in and reporting actions taken in closed sessions.
According to Sen. Yee, the reimbursement requests from local governments to the state for posting agendas and reporting on actions taken in closed meetings are bloated and unjustifiable. In addition, starting in 1991, the California State Legislature and the Governor of California have periodically suspended the Brown Act during times of budget shortfalls, in order to save money. As a result, according to Yee, the rights accorded to the people of California to know what their local government is doing are threatened every time there is a budget shortfall.
According to Yee:
- "“Californians have a fundamental right to know what their government is doing. One only needs to look at corruption within the city of Bell to realize that the Brown Act should never be compromised. Our open meeting laws are too important to be made optional every time the state runs short of money. SCA 7 will ensure government agencies provide the public the information they deserve."