SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – A bill co-authored by a South Bay state legislator to preserve remote access to public meetings has been vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Assembly Bill 339 would have required all open meetings of a city council or county board of supervisors governing at least 250,000 people to include an option for people to attend and comment via the internet or telephone along with an in-person option until the end of 2023.
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The bill, introduced by Assemblymembers Alex Lee, D-San Jose, and Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, was initially broader in scope, requiring all council, school board and county board of supervisors to ensure virtual options along with mandating closed captioning and translation services.
Opposition, including from the League of California Cities, forced the bill’s authors to make changes to the legislation, and the state Senate and Assembly both passed it last month.
However, Newsom declined to sign the bill into law, saying in a letter Thursday about the veto that the legislation “would set a precedent of tying public access requirements to the population of jurisdictions” and “may lead to public confusion,” and would limit flexibility and increase costs for the affected jurisdictions.
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Lee in a statement expressed disappointment in the governor’s veto of the bill.
“Those who have been historically excluded from participation such as working parents, the differently-abled, and those without a reliable means of transportation were finally able to attend meetings to make their opinions heard,” Lee said. “The technology for remote participation exists and we’ve seen successful implementation this past year.”
He said he was “committed to continuing to modernize the way our government works for our constituents.”
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