CA Assembly Bill 992 - Brown Act Proposed Social Media Wording


AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY APRIL 22, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE201920 REGULAR SESSION

ASSEMBLY BILL                                                 No. 992

Introduced by Assembly Member Mullin
February 21, 2019

An act to amend Section 54952.2 of the Government Code, relating to local government.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSELS DIGEST

AB 992, as amended, Mullin. Open meetings: local agencies: social media.

The Ralph M. Brown Act generally requires that the meetings of legislative bodies of local agencies be conducted openly. That act defines “meeting” for purposes of the act and expressly excludes certain

activities_ from the application of the act. prohibits a majority of the
members of a legislative body, outside a meeting authorized by the act, from using a series of communications of any kind to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.

This bill would provide that the act prohibition described above does

not apply to the___ posting, commenting, liking, interaction with, or

          participation in, internet-based social media platforms that are      

ephemeral,     live, or static,

participation, as defined, in an internet-based social media platform, as defined, by a majority of the members of a legislative body, provided that a majority of the members do not discuss

among themselves themselves, as defined, business of a specific nature
that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency.

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AB 992                                      2

Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.

This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.

The California Constitution requires local agencies, for the purpose of ensuring public access to the meetings of public bodies and the

writings of public officials and agencies, to comply with a statutory enactment that amends or enacts laws relating to public records or open meetings and contains findings demonstrating that the enactment furthers the constitutional requirements relating to this purpose.

This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

1        SECTION 1. Section 54952.2 of the Government Code is

2   amended to read:

3        54952.2. (a) As used in this chapter, “meeting” means any

4   congregation of a majority of the members of a legislative body

5   at the same time and location, including teleconference location

6   as permitted by Section 54953, to hear, discuss, deliberate, or take

7   action on any item that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of

8   the legislative body.

9        (b) (1) A majority of the members of a legislative body shall

10   not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of

11   communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries,

12   to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that

13   is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.

14        (2) Paragraph (1) shall not be construed as preventing an

15   employee or official of a local agency, from engaging in separate

16   conversations or communications outside of a meeting authorized

17 by this chapter with members of a legislative body in order to

18   answer questions or provide information regarding a matter that

19   is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the local agency, if that

20   person does not communicate to members of the legislative body

21   the comments or position of any other member or members of the

22   legislative body.


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1   (c) Nothing in this section shall impose the requirements of this

2    chapter upon any of the following:

3      (1) Individual contacts or conversations between a member of

4 a legislative body and any other person that do not violate

5    subdivision (b).

6   (2) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative

7 body at a conference or similar gathering open to the public that

8 involves a discussion of issues of general interest to the public or

9 to public agencies of the type represented by the legislative body,

10 provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among

11 themselves, other than as part of the scheduled program, business

12 of a specified nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction

13 of the local agency. Nothing in this paragraph is intended to allow

14  members of the public free admission to a conference or similar

15 gathering at which the organizers have required other participants

16 or registrants to pay fees or charges as a condition of attendance.

17   (3) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative

18 body at an open and publicized meeting organized to address a

19 topic of local community concern by a person or organization other

20 than the local agency, provided that a majority of the members do

21 not discuss among themselves, other than as part of the scheduled

22    program, business of a specific nature that is within the subject

23    matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency.

24   (4) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative

25 body at an open and noticed meeting of another body of the local

26 agency, or at an open and noticed meeting of a legislative body of

27 another local agency, provided that a majority of the members do

28 not discuss among themselves, other than as part of the scheduled

29     meeting, business of a specific nature that is within the subject

30    matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency.

31   (5) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative

32 body at a purely social or ceremonial occasion, provided that a

33 majority of the members do not discuss among themselves business

34 of a specific nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of

35    the legislative body of the local agency.

36   (6) The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative

37  body at an open and noticed meeting of a standing committee of

38 that body, provided that the members of the legislative body who

39 are not members of the standing committee attend only as

40 observers.

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AB 992                                     4

  1         (7) (A) The posting, commenting, liking, interaction with, or

2 participation___ in, internet-based social media platforms that are

3 ephemeral, live, or static, by a majority of the members of_____ a

  4   legislative body, provided that a majority of the members do not      

  5    discuss among themselves business of a specific nature that__ is

  6 within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the      

7 local___ agency.

  8                   (B) For purposes of this paragraph, all of the following

  9    definitions shall apply:

10     (i) “Ephemeral” means sharing a video, photo, or other content

11 that is temporary in nature, including, but not limited to, Snapchat

12   Stories, Facebook Stories, or Instagram Stories.

13                      (ii) “Live” means a video or commenting post that is

14   synchronous and happens live, including, but not limited to, Reddit

15   Ask Me Anything (AMA) or Facebook Live.

16     (iii) “Static” means a post in the form of a video, photo, or text      

        17 that is viewable by members of the public, including, but not      

18 limited to, a Twitter status update, YouTube video, Facebook post,     

19   or Instagram post.

20         (d) (1) The prohibition contained in subdivision (b) shall not

21 apply to the participation in an internet-based social media

22 platform by a majority of the members of a legislative body,

23       provided that a majority of the members do not discuss among

24  themselves business of a specific nature that is within the subject

25   matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.

26                (2) For purposes of this subdivision, all of the following

27   definitions shall apply:

28     (A) “Discuss among themselves” means communications made,

29 posted, or shared on an internet-based social media platform

30 between members of a legislative body. “Discuss among

31   themselves” does not include either of the following:

32       (i) Individual communications made, posted, or shared by one

33 or more members of a legislative body on an internet-based social

34 media platform, provided that the communications do not respond

35  directly to communications made, posted, or shared by any other

36   member of the legislative body.

37     (ii) Communications made through the use of digital icons that

38   express reactions to information, ideas, or opinions by others.

39         (B) “Generally open and available to the public” means that

40     members of the general public have the ability to participate in


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1 the internet-based social media platform and are not blocked from

2    doing so by a member of the legislative body.

3        (C) “Internet-based social media platform” means an online

4    service that is generally open and available to the public.

5      (D) “Participation” means the act of publicizing information,

6     ideas, or opinions electronically according to the protocols or

7    rules of an internet-based social media platform.

8          SEC. 2. The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of

9 this act, which amends Section 54952.2 of the Government Code,

10 imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings

11    of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies

12        within the meaning of Section 3 of Article I of the California

13 Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional provision, the

14 Legislature makes the following findings to demonstrate the interest

15 protected by this limitation and the need for protecting that interest:

16      The limitations on the people’s right of access set forth in this

17 act are necessary to ensure the free flow of communications

18  between members of a legislative body of a local agency and the

19    public on internet-based social media platforms.

20          SEC. 3. The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of

21 this act, which amends Section 54952.2 of the Government Code,

22   furthers, within the meaning of paragraph (7) of subdivision (b)

23 of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution, the purposes

24      of that constitutional section as it relates to the right of public

25     access to the meetings of local public bodies or the writings of

26 local public officials and local agencies. Pursuant to paragraph (7)

27          of subdivision (b) of Section 3 of Article I of the California

28    Constitution, the Legislature makes the following findings:

29   This act is necessary to ensure the free flow of communications

30  between members of a legislative body of a local agency and the

31    public on internet-based social media platforms.

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