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Robert Rivas Introduces Legislation to Allow Remote Government Proceedings During Emergencies

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – In an effort to allow public agencies to serve their constituents while preserving transparency and public access to government meetings during times of emergency, Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) introduced legislation today, AB 361, that will allow the boards of local agencies to meet remotely via video and teleconference during a specified emergency that inhibits in-person gatherings.

“COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for local jurisdictions to both meet their responsibilities as governing bodies and remain safe during the high risk pandemic we’re facing,” Asm. Rivas said. “By codifying current flexibilities that allow local agencies to meet remotely, AB 361 will ensure that these bodies can uphold their duties while allowing the public to participate online or over the phone—protecting everyone’s safety. This legislation ensures that local boards do not have to rely on an executive order from the Governor to proceed remotely during any future emergencies.”

The bill, sponsored by the California Special Districts Association, codifies Governor Gavin Newsom’s Brown Act executive orders, which granted local agencies flexibility to meet and conduct business remotely due to virus transmission risks.

“The California Special Districts Association, representing water districts, fire protection districts, utility districts, healthcare districts, and others is proud to support AB 361,” said Neil McCormick, CEO of CSDA. “This bill is needed to support local agencies providing the essential services communities depend on during local and statewide emergencies.”