Public participation is the hallmark of democracy. Just like voting and protest, public meetings are an essential avenue for people’s voices to be heard. Californians should be able to participate in meetings where decisions get made with ease. In 2021, this must include remote participation.
AB 339, by Assemblymember Alex Lee, would allow for continued remote participation in open and public hearings and meetings for city councils and board of supervisors, that are in jurisdictions with populations greater than 250,000.
Existing laws already require jurisdictions to have open meetings that the public can participate in but attending these meetings have been a challenge for many members of the community. People shouldn’t be excluded from participating in decisions that impact their communities because they need childcare, transportation, time off from work, or may require interpretation services. We must make it easier for the public to engage with their city council, board of supervisors or even the state legislature without being physically present in a meeting room.
Every Californian deserves a right to make their voice heard to their policymakers. Our democracy depends on robust public participation, the state must do more to ensure that all its citizens can participate easily.
AB 339 is cosponsored by the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability and ACLU California Action.