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Heart of Brown Act suspended in budget; potential fix proposed in Governor's Tax Plan - California Newspaper Publishers Association : Legislative And Legal

Heart of Brown Act suspended in budget; potential fix proposed in Governor's Tax Plan

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Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012 2:41 pm | Updated: 1:30 pm, Mon Aug 27, 2012.

Buried deep in the Budget signed two days ago by the Governor is a small provision that suspends the reimbursable state mandate that requires local governmental bodies under the Brown Act to post a descriptive meeting agenda 72 hours before a regular meeting and stick to it.  

Pursuant to the state constitution, whenever the legislature creates a law that requires local agencies to perform a new task or duty (a state-mandated local program), the state is generally required to reimburse the local agency for the cost of the new task or duty.  An independent entity called the Commission on State Mandates both determines whether a new duty creates a reimbursable mandate and the value of the mandate.  Many years ago, the Brown Act's requirement that agencies post a descriptive agenda was found to be a reimbursable state mandate.  The annual cost to the state is roughly $20 million.  

Staff recently learned that Governor Brown's proposed tax increase appearing on the November ballot contains language that would address the mandate problem. Specifically, The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012 would amend the California Constitution to declare that any state requirement that a local agency comply with the Brown Act "shall not be a reimbursable mandate."

If voters approve the Governor's tax increase, the amendment to the Constitution would put an end to the nearly annual suspension of the agenda posting requirement whenever a budget crisis occurs.