Brown Act Amendment Now Requires Recordation of Actions Taken During Open Sessions


Senate Bill 751 amends Government Code section 54953 to require the legislative body of a local agency to publicly report any action taken and the vote or abstention on that action of each member present for the action. This requirement became effective January 1, 2014.  School districts will now need to record the vote or abstention of each member on each item presented during public meetings, as well as publicly announce the action taken and the vote or abstention of each member in attendance.  Reporting the number of ayes, nays, or abstentions alone will not be enough, as the names of each board member and their vote is now required.  Votes may need to be taken by roll call or in another manner as set forth below that allows verification of the vote of each member in order to comply with the requirements of SB 751. 

According to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee analysis, this change is intended to improve the ability of the public and others who monitor legislative meetings of local agencies to be certain of how members voted on an issue when action is taken. Prior to this bill, the law required local agencies to report the vote or abstention of every member present for meetings that are either closed or for meetings that utilize teleconferencing, but the law did not require agencies to report the vote of individual members at other public meetings.  

To see the text of the Bill, click here:

What This Means To You

Board action items upon which a vote is taken in public session will now need to be recorded.  The process can still be as simple on consensus issues as the Board chair calling for the question after a motion.  A second to that motion is made, next Board members vote “aye” by voice vote, or a show of hands.  The recorder then records the Board member(s) making the motion, the second, and the vote including the name of each present Board member who votes. 

During more controversial matters, when the initial “aye” vote is not unanimous, the Board chair asks for the “nay” or “abstaining” Board votes, which are then also recorded by name, as well as the final result.

Topics:  Public Schools, School Districts

Published In: Administrative Agency Updates, Education Updates, Elections & Politics Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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