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SB 1100 – Clarifies The Authority Of Legislative Bodies To Remove Disruptive Individuals From Public Meetings
Under current law, the Brown Act requires that all meetings of the legislative body of a local agency be open and public. In the event that an individual or a group willfully interrupts a meeting in a way that makes it unfeasible to maintain order, if the legislative body is unable to restore order by removing the disruptive individuals, the members of the legislative body can order the meeting room cleared and continue in session. In such cases, the legislative body can only consider matters appearing on the agenda, and members of the press or media must be allowed to continue to attend, except for individuals participating in the disturbance. Current law allows but does not require, the legislative body to readmit individuals not responsible for the disturbance. Current law allows each body to adopt reasonable regulations governing public address to the legislative body but does not provide clear rules for when a legislative body can or cannot remove a disruptive individual short of clearing the room.
SB 1100 is intended to clarify the authority of local legislative bodies to remove disruptive individuals. The bill expressly states its intent to codify the authority and standards for governing public meetings set forth in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2013 decision in Acosta v. City of Costa Mesa.
Specifically, the bill defines “disrupting” a meeting as engaging in behavior that actually disrupts, disturbs, impedes, or renders infeasible the orderly conduct of the meeting. This includes, but is not limited to, the use of force, true threats of force, or a failure to comply with reasonable and lawful regulations adopted by the legislative body. In those cases, the bill authorizes the presiding member of a legislative body, or their designee, to remove the disruptive individual or cause them to be removed. However, before removing the individual, the presiding member or their designee must warn the individual that their behavior is disrupting the meeting and that their failure to cease the behavior may result in removal.
(SB 1100 adds Section 54957.95 to the Government Code.)