Update on Executive Order N-29-20

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Unbelievably, it was March 17, 2020, when Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-29-20 (amending Executive Order N-25-20 in part), which allows local or state legislative bodies to hold meetings via teleconference and to make meetings accessible electronically without violating the open meeting laws found in the Bagley-Keene Act or the Brown Act. We have certainly all been through a lot of changes since March 2020, but one thing that will not be changing on June 15th when California reopens following the myriad of COVID-19 restrictions is Executive Order N-29-20.

On June 15th, many of the COVID-19 safety provisions will be lifted in California, but given ongoing lack of clarity on certain items such as when and where to wear masks, vaccination requirements and remaining travel concerns, many constituencies have sought clarification from Governor Newsom’s office regarding guidelines for specific aspects of the Emergency Proclamation. For this reason, earlier this month, the Governor responded to a coalition of local government entities in a letter confirming that the provisions of N-29-20 will remain in effect until further notice.

On June 11th, Governor Newsom’s office issued a statement further clarifying the plan and timeline for opening up California from June 15th forward. Furthermore, in the June 11, 2021 Executive Order N-08-21, there is additional clarifying language concerning N-29-20 which states:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of state or local law (including, but not limited to, the Bagley-Keene Act or the Brown Act), and subject to the notice and accessibility requirements set forth below, a local legislative body or state body is authorized to hold public meetings via teleconferencing and to make public meetings accessible telephonically or otherwise electronically to all members of the public seeking to observe and to address the local legislative body or state body. All requirements in both the Bagley-Keene Act and the Brown Act expressly or impliedly requiring the physical presence of members, the clerk or other personnel of the body, or of the public as a condition of participation in or quorum for a public meeting are hereby waived.”

We will continue to follow all developments regarding Executive Order N-29-20 and other updated regulations affecting public agencies. Please stay tuned to California Water Views for the latest news as California emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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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