Lawmakers Crack Down on Public Meeting Disruptions

Local governments and school boards will have clearer guidelines for when and how to remove disruptive individuals from public meetings under a bill passed by the Legislature on Monday.

SB 1100 was authored by Senator Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley) in response to numerous public meeting disruptions that took place during the pandemic. It modifies the 1953 Brown Act, which requires open and transparent meetings in California.

From the text:

This bill would authorize the presiding member of the legislative body conducting a meeting to remove an individual for disrupting the meeting. The bill, except as provided, would require removal to be preceded by a warning to the individual by the presiding member of the legislative body or their designee that the individual’s behavior is disrupting the meeting and that the individual’s failure to cease their behavior may result in their removal. The bill would authorize the presiding member or their designee to then remove the individual if the individual does not promptly cease their disruptive behavior. The bill would define “disrupting” for this purpose. 

The bill raised some concern among First Amendment organizations, but Cortese and his allies insist it does a good job of distinguishing free expression from willful disruption that stifles the engagement process. In addition, “the bill actually clarifies, in a good way, that you can’t just shut people down without a warning,” Cortese told the Sacramento Bee. “There’s a specific procedure and clear lines of authority now for essentially calling someone out for disrupting a meeting.”

The Governor has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill.


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