CCoA’s sponsored bill, Senate Bill 544 Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act: Teleconferencing, was signed by Governor Newsom on September 22! Authored by State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), SB 544 updates the Bagley-Keene Act provisions for state boards and commissions.
“Senate Bill 544 is a significant step forward in modernizing the Bagley-Keene Act to embrace the power of technology by fostering equity and enhancing public engagement while preserving public access to the decision-making process,” said Senator Laird.
Senate Bill 544 promotes public and disability access at state board and commission meetings by requiring all meetings of a regulatory state board to have a physical quorum, with an exception that allows members with disabilities to participate remotely and count toward a quorum. Boards are required to have on-camera requirements for remote members and allow for remote public comment. Advisory boards with no decision-making authority will be allowed to meet remotely, which enhances representation by older adults, people with disabilities, caregivers, low-income individuals, rural residents, and more.
“When Governor Newsom allowed California’s boards and commissions to meet virtually during COVID, it created an opportunity for engagement—allowing a voice at the table for those individuals (older adults, people with disabilities or health conditions) who otherwise couldn’t participate due to the in-person meeting requirement. State boards became more inclusive, participation increased, and many boards and commissions accomplished more! Thanks to Senator Laird for bringing us into the twenty-first century,” said Cheryl Brown, Chair of the California Commission on Aging.
Much appreciation to our partners in aging and disability! Your enthusiastic support and engagement through the legislative process were invaluable. Older adults and individuals with disabilities will no longer be barred from attending meetings or participating in State government simply due to disability or health condition.
A heartfelt thank you to Senator Laird! Your success in advocating for older adults and those with disabilities is significant and appreciated! Your efforts to unite numerous dissenting organizations for the common good of all Californians are especially noteworthy. Californians will be better served Through your hard work, dedication, and that of your staff.
Original article from the California Commission on Aging newsletter. View HERE.