Conversations For Workable Government

Report #227, June 2015
Conversations For Workable Government

Full Report

Executive Summary

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2015

For Additional Information Contact:
Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

Commission Recommends Adjusting California’s Open Meeting Acts to Improve Governing, Retaining Existing Executive Branch Ex Parte Policies

Millions of Californians live with consequences of poorly-informed government decisions due to laws that discourage elected and appointed officials from seeking their colleagues’ expertise outside public meetings, the Little Hoover Commission stated Thursday in a report recommending changes to the state’s open meeting acts.

The Commission cited widely-held perceptions that public decision-making is faltering statewide as adhering to strict transparency rules increasingly trumps quality policymaking. The bipartisan citizens’ Commission, in a new report, Conversations for Workable Government, proposes slight modifications to laws that currently prevent decision-makers from talking informally with colleagues about general policy issues.

“Ten months of review and consultation with elected officials, consumer groups and good government advocates convinced the Commission that modest changes to the law are necessary to advance the public good,” said Pedro Nava, Chairman of the Little Hoover Commission.

Simultaneously, the Commission understands the public distrust of government, which was further fueled during the course of this study by front-page allegations of improper and potentially illegal ex parte communications between state regulators and California utilities. The Commission recommends keeping the existing and varied ex parte communication policies throughout state government, while also considering possible additional disclosure requirements and enforcement.

The Commission reviewed state government’s rules for closed-door ex parte conversations with lobbyists, as well as 2008 changes to tighten the Ralph M. Brown Act for local government and similar 2009 changes incorporated into more complex state governing institutions through the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. Among its findings regarding California’s open government laws and practices:  The 2008 and 2009 changes to the state’s open meeting acts have hindered government decision-making processes and created less transparency instead of more. Public meetings are increasingly scripted as officials are afraid to thoroughly discuss issues in public and more decision-making is delegated to staffers who are neither appointed nor elected.  The inability of decision-makers to talk informally about general policy issues or learn from one another has isolated them, reduced their collective understanding of issues and opened them to greater manipulation out of public view. Lobbyists who can freely talk with every decision-maker in advance of votes, frequently know more about their collective thinking than decision-makers themselves and use it to advantage for their clients and often to the detriment of the public.  Government attorneys, aiming to ward off open meeting act lawsuits that are commonly used as wedges to unravel controversial compromises or multibillion-dollar decisions, narrowly interpret the state’s broadly-defined open meeting acts, making elected and appointed officials fearful of talking with one another or even being seen together outside public meetings.

“Californians deserve transparency when government officials make decisions that affect their lives. Yet we don’t want decision-makers handcuffed by rules that deny them the best information available,” said Mr. Nava.

“We don’t want the cure to kill the patient. Sometimes the best of intentions bring about unintended consequences. The responsible thing to do is to fix it,” he said.

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action. For a copy of the report, visit the Commission’s website: www.lhc.ca.gov.

Fact Sheet

Study Description

For this study, the Commission reviewed transparency in state and local government, specifically the effects of amendments enacted in 2008 to the Brown Act and in 2009 to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act on the ability of state boards and commissions and local governments to effectively conduct business. A public hearing was held at 9:30 a.m. on August 26, 2014, in Room 437 of the State Capitol in Sacramento. 

At an April 2014 hearing held as a follow-up to the Commission’s 2012 study on energy governance, Commissioners were told by several witnesses that the 2009 Bagley-Keene Act amendments deter effective decision-making by limiting discussion among the five members of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and similarly among their advisors. Witnesses noted the Commissioners’ enormous workloads and cited “unproductive constraints” of the Bagley-Keene rules – or the Commission’s interpretation of those rules – in conducting their work. The consensus among these witnesses was that the “process” of complying with the legislative amendments implemented in 2010 is trumping quality policymaking.

The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act requires, with specified exceptions, that all meetings of a state body be open and public and all persons be permitted to attend any meeting. The Brown Act has similar requirements for local government entities. A 2006 court interpretation of the Brown Act (Wolfe v. City of Fremont) resulted in confusion regarding the legality of serial meetings, which previously had been banned by both the Bagley-Keene and Brown Acts. In response to this interpretation, the enacted AB 1732 (Romero) in 2008 to amend the Brown Act to clarify that serial meetings are prohibited. Legislation enacted in 2009, AB 1494, (Eng) synchronized the Bagley-Keene Act with the 2008 change to the Brown Act.

Specifically, the bills struck the following sentence: “Except as authorized pursuant to Section 11123, any use of direct communication, personal intermediaries, or technological devices that is employed by a majority of the members of the state body to develop a collective concurrence as to action to be taken on an item by the members of the state body is prohibited.”

As a result of the amendments enacted in 2008 and 2009, the statutes now read: “A majority of the members of a state body shall not, outside of a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter of the state body.”

As a result of this change, the Little Hoover Commission was told that the five members of the California Public Utilities Commission are unable to discuss policy matters with fellow commissioners before meetings. As a result, the Commission was told decision-making has been driven down to the staff level with the unintended consequence of creating less transparency, not more, in the CPUC’s deliberations.

At the August 2014 hearing, the Little Hoover Commission explored the impacts on CPUC and California Energy Commission (CEC) decision-making as a result of the Bagley-Keene amendments, as well as the CPUC’s and CEC's legal interpretation of those amendments. The Commission assessed how processes today compare with those in place before the amendments. Additionally, the Commission explored whether the 2009 amendments have affected the ability of other state boards and commissions to conduct business or if this situation is unique mostly to the Public Utilities Commission due to its large and complex workload.

Agenda

Overview

In this report, the Commission recommends fine-tuning California’s open meeting acts to improve governing. The Commission also recommends retaining existing executive branch ex parte policies, while considering possible additional disclosure requirements and enforcement.

During its review, the Commission found that 2008 and 2009 Legislative changes to the state’s open meeting acts has hindered government decision-making processes and created less transparency instead of more. The Commission also found the inability of decision-makers to talk informally about general policy issues or learn from one another has isolated them, reduced their collective understanding of issues and opened them to greater manipulation out of public view.

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			Agenda
  • May 28
    2015
    California's Open Meeting Acts
    1:00 p.m., Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level, 925 L
    Advisory Committee Meeting
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Advisory Committee Meeting on the Ralph M. Brown Act
    Thursday, May 28, 2015, at 1:00 p.m.
    Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level
    925 L Street, Sacramento, CA


    Meeting Goals: To discuss and understand issues that local elected officials encounter and perceive regarding compliance with the Brown Act, particularly regarding their ability to have discussions with one another outside public meetings about policy issues related to their work – without attempting to reach consensus on upcoming votes.

    1:00 – 1:10 p.m.

    Welcome and Introduction 
    Subcommittee Chair David Schwarz and Executive Director Carole D’Elia

    1:10 – 1:30 p.m.

    Brown Act Constraints on Elected Officials

    1:30 – 2:00 p.m.

    Impacts on Information Gathering and Decision-Making

    2:00 – 2:15 p.m.

    Potential Solutions

    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    May 14, 2015

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting 

    On Thursday, May 28, 2015, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct an advisory committee meeting on the Ralph M. Brown Act. The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. in the Legislative Counsel Conference Room on the lower level of 925 L Street in Sacramento.

    The discussion will explore issues that local elected officials in California encounter and perceive regarding compliance with the Brown Act, California’s open meeting act for local and regional governments, school districts and special districts. In particular, discussion will focus on the ability of elected officials to have discussions with one another outside public meetings about policy issues related to their work – without attempting to reach consensus on upcoming votes.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the meeting. The Commission also encourages written comments. Members of the public can also access the meeting at 200 N. Spring St., #415, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s website, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, May 21, 2015.

  • March 5
    2015
    California's Open Meeting Acts
    9:30 a.m., State Capitol, Room 437, Sacramento, CA
    Public Hearing
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Public Hearing on California's Open Meeting Acts
    Thursday, March 5, 2015, at 9:30 a.m.
    State Capitol, Room 437
    Sacramento, CA


    Opening Remarks

    New Ex Parte Rules for the California Public Utilities Commission

    1. Michael J. Strumwasser, Partner, Strumwasser & Woocher, LLP (Written Testimony)
       

    A Case for Tougher Rules Throughout the Executive Branch

    1. Edward Howard, Senior Counsel/Senior Policy Advocate, Center for Public Trust Law, University of San Diego School of Law (Written Testimony)
       

    The Federal Landscape of Ex Parte Communications Policies

    1. Esa L. Sferra-Bonistalli, Consultant and former federal agency Liaison Representative to the Administrative Conference of the United States (Written Testimony)


    Ex Parte Practitioners: A Two-Way Street with Government Regulators

    1. Michael B. Day, Partner, Goodin, MacBride, Squeri & Day, LLP (Written Testimony)

    Comments Submitted by Members of the Public

    • Michael Asimow, Visiting Professor of Law, Stanford Law School and Professor of Law Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles Law School (Written Comments)
    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    March 2, 2015

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting
    (Revised Witness List)

    On Thursday, March 5, 2015, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct a public hearing on ex parte communications as part of the Commission’s review of California’s Open Meeting Acts. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Room 437 of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

    The Commission is reviewing transparency in state and local government, specifically the effects of amendments enacted in 2008 to the Brown Act and in 2009 to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act on the ability of state boards and commissions to effectively conduct business. At this hearing, the Commission will examine the role of ex parte communications between interest groups and decision-makers during informal rulemaking.

    The Commission will first hear from a partner with the Los Angeles-based law firm, Strumwasser & Woocher, LLP, who will report on his assignment from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to develop and propose new ex parte rules for the commission. The Commission will then hear from the senior counsel and senior policy advisor for the University of San Diego Center for Public Interest Law, who will testify with his perspective on California’s governing culture and landscape of ex parte communications in informal rulemaking and quasi-legislative proceedings. The Commission also will hear from a consultant to the Administrative Conference of the United States, who will outline ex parte policies used by federal agencies and discuss recommendations for ex parte communications. Finally, a partner with the San Francisco-based law firm, Goodin, MacBride, Squeri & Day, LLP, will offer collective commentary and recommendations related to ex parte communication rules as applicable to the CPUC.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the hearing. The Commission also encourages written comments. Immediately following the hearing, the Commission will hold a business meeting in the Legislative Counsel Conference Room in the lower level of 925 L Street in Sacramento. Additional teleconference locations accessible to the public during the meeting will be: 8 West Cedar Street, Boston, MA 02108.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s website, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, February 26, 2015.

    Video
  • October 23
    2014
    California's Open Meeting Acts
    9:30 a.m., Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level, 925 L
    Advisory Committee Meeting
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Advisory Committee Meeting on California's Open Meeting Acts
    Thursday, October 23, 2014, at 9:30 a.m.
    Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level
    925 L Street, Sacramento, CA


    Meeting Goals: To discuss and formulate potential legal language that clarifies the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and Brown Act regarding ability of governing members of state boards and commissions and local government entities to have discussions with one another outside public meetings about policy issues related to their work – without attempting to reach consensus on upcoming votes.

    9:30 – 9:40 a.m.

    Welcome and Introduction 
    Subcommittee Chair David Schwarz and Executive Director Carole D’Elia

    9:40 – 10:00 a.m.

    Open Meeting Act Discussion:

    • State perspective
       
    • Local perspective
       

    10:00 – 10:15 a.m.

    Proposed Solution

    • Robert C. Fellmeth, Executive Director, Center for Public Interest Law, University of San Diego School of Law (Written Testimony)

    10:15 – 11:30 a.m.

    Reaction to Proposed Solution

    A Range of other Potential Solutions

    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    October 10, 2014

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    On Thursday, October 23, 2014, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct an advisory committee meeting on the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and Brown Act. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level, 925 L Street in Sacramento.

    The discussion will explore potential legal language that clarifies the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and Brown Act regarding ability of governing members of state boards and commissions and local government entities to have discussions with one another outside public meetings about policy issues related to their work – without attempting to reach consensus on upcoming votes.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the meeting. The Commission also encourages written comments.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s website, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, October 16, 2014.

  • August 26
    2014
    California's Open Meeting Acts
    9:30 a.m., State Capitol, Room 437, Sacramento, CA
    Public Hearing
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Public Hearing on the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act
    Tuesday, August 26, 2014, at 9:30 a.m.
    State Capitol, Room 437
    Sacramento, CA


    Opening Remarks

    Governing Complications at the California Public Utilities Commission

    1. Michel Florio, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission (Written Testimony)
       
    2. J. Jason Reiger, Assistant General Counsel, California Public Utilities Commission (Written Testimony)
       

    Perspectives on Bagley-Keene from the California Energy Commission

    1. Karen Douglas, Commissioner, California Energy Commission 
       
    2. Michael J. Levy, Chief Counsel, California Energy Commission
       

    The 2009 Changes to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act

    1. Jim Ewert, General Counsel, California Newspaper Publishers Association (Written Testimony)


    Interpretations and Options for State Boards and Commissions

    1. Robert Fellmeth, Executive Director, Center for Public Interest Law, University of San Diego School of Law (Written Testimony)

    Comments Submitted by Members of the Public

    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    August 25, 2014

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting
    (With Revised List of Witnesses)

    On Tuesday, August 26, 2014, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct a public hearing on the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Room 437 of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

    The Commission is reviewing transparency in state government, specifically the effects of amendments enacted in 2009 to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act on the ability of state boards and commissions to effectively conduct business. At this hearing, the Commission will focus on the impacts of the Bagley-Keene amendments on California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decision-making. The Commission also will explore whether the 2009 amendments have affected the ability of other state boards and commissions to conduct business or if this situation is unique to the CPUC.

    The Commission will first hear from a CPUC commissioner who will provide an explanation of the act’s impact on CPUC decision-making processes. An assistant general counsel in charge of the legal division advisory section also will provide an interpretation of the 2009 changes. The Commission will then hear from a California Energy Commissioner and the chief counsel of the commission. The Commission also will hear from the general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA), who sponsored the 2009 legislation that amended the Bagley-Keene Act. Finally, the executive director of the University of San Diego School of Law’s Center for Public Interest Law, an expert on the Bagley-Keene Act and state boards and commissions, will testify with his interpretation of the law.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the hearing. The Commission also encourages written comments. Immediately following the hearing, the Commission will hold a business meeting in Conference Room 175 on the first floor of 925 L Street in Sacramento. Additional teleconference locations accessible to the public during the meeting will be: 15 Henry Street, Southampton, NY 11968.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s website, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Tuesday, August 19, 2014.

    Video
Print 
		Agenda
  • May 28
    2015
    California's Open Meeting Acts
    1:00 p.m., Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level, 925 L
    Advisory Committee Meeting
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Advisory Committee Meeting on the Ralph M. Brown Act
    Thursday, May 28, 2015, at 1:00 p.m.
    Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level
    925 L Street, Sacramento, CA


    Meeting Goals: To discuss and understand issues that local elected officials encounter and perceive regarding compliance with the Brown Act, particularly regarding their ability to have discussions with one another outside public meetings about policy issues related to their work – without attempting to reach consensus on upcoming votes.

    1:00 – 1:10 p.m.

    Welcome and Introduction 
    Subcommittee Chair David Schwarz and Executive Director Carole D’Elia

    1:10 – 1:30 p.m.

    Brown Act Constraints on Elected Officials

    1:30 – 2:00 p.m.

    Impacts on Information Gathering and Decision-Making

    2:00 – 2:15 p.m.

    Potential Solutions

    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    May 14, 2015

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting 

    On Thursday, May 28, 2015, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct an advisory committee meeting on the Ralph M. Brown Act. The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. in the Legislative Counsel Conference Room on the lower level of 925 L Street in Sacramento.

    The discussion will explore issues that local elected officials in California encounter and perceive regarding compliance with the Brown Act, California’s open meeting act for local and regional governments, school districts and special districts. In particular, discussion will focus on the ability of elected officials to have discussions with one another outside public meetings about policy issues related to their work – without attempting to reach consensus on upcoming votes.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the meeting. The Commission also encourages written comments. Members of the public can also access the meeting at 200 N. Spring St., #415, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s website, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, May 21, 2015.

  • March 5
    2015
    California's Open Meeting Acts
    9:30 a.m., State Capitol, Room 437, Sacramento, CA
    Public Hearing
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Public Hearing on California's Open Meeting Acts
    Thursday, March 5, 2015, at 9:30 a.m.
    State Capitol, Room 437
    Sacramento, CA


    Opening Remarks

    New Ex Parte Rules for the California Public Utilities Commission

    1. Michael J. Strumwasser, Partner, Strumwasser & Woocher, LLP (Written Testimony)
       

    A Case for Tougher Rules Throughout the Executive Branch

    1. Edward Howard, Senior Counsel/Senior Policy Advocate, Center for Public Trust Law, University of San Diego School of Law (Written Testimony)
       

    The Federal Landscape of Ex Parte Communications Policies

    1. Esa L. Sferra-Bonistalli, Consultant and former federal agency Liaison Representative to the Administrative Conference of the United States (Written Testimony)


    Ex Parte Practitioners: A Two-Way Street with Government Regulators

    1. Michael B. Day, Partner, Goodin, MacBride, Squeri & Day, LLP (Written Testimony)

    Comments Submitted by Members of the Public

    • Michael Asimow, Visiting Professor of Law, Stanford Law School and Professor of Law Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles Law School (Written Comments)
    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    March 2, 2015

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting
    (Revised Witness List)

    On Thursday, March 5, 2015, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct a public hearing on ex parte communications as part of the Commission’s review of California’s Open Meeting Acts. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Room 437 of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

    The Commission is reviewing transparency in state and local government, specifically the effects of amendments enacted in 2008 to the Brown Act and in 2009 to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act on the ability of state boards and commissions to effectively conduct business. At this hearing, the Commission will examine the role of ex parte communications between interest groups and decision-makers during informal rulemaking.

    The Commission will first hear from a partner with the Los Angeles-based law firm, Strumwasser & Woocher, LLP, who will report on his assignment from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to develop and propose new ex parte rules for the commission. The Commission will then hear from the senior counsel and senior policy advisor for the University of San Diego Center for Public Interest Law, who will testify with his perspective on California’s governing culture and landscape of ex parte communications in informal rulemaking and quasi-legislative proceedings. The Commission also will hear from a consultant to the Administrative Conference of the United States, who will outline ex parte policies used by federal agencies and discuss recommendations for ex parte communications. Finally, a partner with the San Francisco-based law firm, Goodin, MacBride, Squeri & Day, LLP, will offer collective commentary and recommendations related to ex parte communication rules as applicable to the CPUC.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the hearing. The Commission also encourages written comments. Immediately following the hearing, the Commission will hold a business meeting in the Legislative Counsel Conference Room in the lower level of 925 L Street in Sacramento. Additional teleconference locations accessible to the public during the meeting will be: 8 West Cedar Street, Boston, MA 02108.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s website, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, February 26, 2015.

    Video
  • October 23
    2014
    California's Open Meeting Acts
    9:30 a.m., Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level, 925 L
    Advisory Committee Meeting
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Advisory Committee Meeting on California's Open Meeting Acts
    Thursday, October 23, 2014, at 9:30 a.m.
    Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level
    925 L Street, Sacramento, CA


    Meeting Goals: To discuss and formulate potential legal language that clarifies the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and Brown Act regarding ability of governing members of state boards and commissions and local government entities to have discussions with one another outside public meetings about policy issues related to their work – without attempting to reach consensus on upcoming votes.

    9:30 – 9:40 a.m.

    Welcome and Introduction 
    Subcommittee Chair David Schwarz and Executive Director Carole D’Elia

    9:40 – 10:00 a.m.

    Open Meeting Act Discussion:

    • State perspective
       
    • Local perspective
       

    10:00 – 10:15 a.m.

    Proposed Solution

    • Robert C. Fellmeth, Executive Director, Center for Public Interest Law, University of San Diego School of Law (Written Testimony)

    10:15 – 11:30 a.m.

    Reaction to Proposed Solution

    A Range of other Potential Solutions

    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    October 10, 2014

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    On Thursday, October 23, 2014, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct an advisory committee meeting on the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and Brown Act. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Legislative Counsel Conference Room, Lower Level, 925 L Street in Sacramento.

    The discussion will explore potential legal language that clarifies the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and Brown Act regarding ability of governing members of state boards and commissions and local government entities to have discussions with one another outside public meetings about policy issues related to their work – without attempting to reach consensus on upcoming votes.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the meeting. The Commission also encourages written comments.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s website, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, October 16, 2014.

  • August 26
    2014
    California's Open Meeting Acts
    9:30 a.m., State Capitol, Room 437, Sacramento, CA
    Public Hearing
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Public Hearing on the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act
    Tuesday, August 26, 2014, at 9:30 a.m.
    State Capitol, Room 437
    Sacramento, CA


    Opening Remarks

    Governing Complications at the California Public Utilities Commission

    1. Michel Florio, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission (Written Testimony)
       
    2. J. Jason Reiger, Assistant General Counsel, California Public Utilities Commission (Written Testimony)
       

    Perspectives on Bagley-Keene from the California Energy Commission

    1. Karen Douglas, Commissioner, California Energy Commission 
       
    2. Michael J. Levy, Chief Counsel, California Energy Commission
       

    The 2009 Changes to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act

    1. Jim Ewert, General Counsel, California Newspaper Publishers Association (Written Testimony)


    Interpretations and Options for State Boards and Commissions

    1. Robert Fellmeth, Executive Director, Center for Public Interest Law, University of San Diego School of Law (Written Testimony)

    Comments Submitted by Members of the Public

    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    August 25, 2014

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting
    (With Revised List of Witnesses)

    On Tuesday, August 26, 2014, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct a public hearing on the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Room 437 of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

    The Commission is reviewing transparency in state government, specifically the effects of amendments enacted in 2009 to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act on the ability of state boards and commissions to effectively conduct business. At this hearing, the Commission will focus on the impacts of the Bagley-Keene amendments on California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decision-making. The Commission also will explore whether the 2009 amendments have affected the ability of other state boards and commissions to conduct business or if this situation is unique to the CPUC.

    The Commission will first hear from a CPUC commissioner who will provide an explanation of the act’s impact on CPUC decision-making processes. An assistant general counsel in charge of the legal division advisory section also will provide an interpretation of the 2009 changes. The Commission will then hear from a California Energy Commissioner and the chief counsel of the commission. The Commission also will hear from the general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA), who sponsored the 2009 legislation that amended the Bagley-Keene Act. Finally, the executive director of the University of San Diego School of Law’s Center for Public Interest Law, an expert on the Bagley-Keene Act and state boards and commissions, will testify with his interpretation of the law.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the hearing. The Commission also encourages written comments. Immediately following the hearing, the Commission will hold a business meeting in Conference Room 175 on the first floor of 925 L Street in Sacramento. Additional teleconference locations accessible to the public during the meeting will be: 15 Henry Street, Southampton, NY 11968.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s website, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Tuesday, August 19, 2014.

    Video