SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today signed SB 274 by State Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), a bill to modernize and increase local government transparency policies by requiring local agencies to email agenda packets to people who request them. The Legislature passed the bill with bipartisan support. It is supported by media organizations, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition.
“I am pleased Governor Newsom has signed this common sense piece of legislation to make it easier for community members to stay up-to-date on the important issues to be considered at future meetings by their representatives,” Wieckowski said. “By receiving emailed agenda packets, residents can review the information before the hearings. This will lead to more public participation. Many jurisdictions are already providing this level of outreach and transparency, but others are not. They are still mailing hard copies that do not always arrive on time, denying people the chance to review materials beforehand.”
SB 274 updates the Brown Act, California’s sunshine law for local government. The Brown Act requires local agencies to mail agenda packets to people who have requested copies. But if the agencies mail hard copies, the chances for late delivery increase. Some jurisdictions also mail via certified mail, which requires the requester to be physically present.
Wieckowski’s bill will require local agencies to email the items to people who prefer to receive them by email.
“SB 274 creates significant benefits for people who want to closely monitor local government meetings,” said Adrian Riskin, policy and advocacy coordinator of the L.A. Sunshine Coalition. “It closes a small but consequential loophole to make meeting agendas available by email upon request.”
Joining the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition in support are media organizations, such as the California News Publishers Association and The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California. It is also backed by Oakland Privacy, the California Taxpayers Association and a variety of business, government, labor and education organizations.
In a letter of support for SB 274, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said “The public’s right to be involved in the democratic process is of fundamental importance. Making it easier (and timelier) for the public to access government by modernizing how information is sent and received can only improve participation in the process.”
Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.