Open Meetings

The Ralph M. Brown Act is a “public access law” that ensures the public’s right to attend the meetings of public agencies, facilitates public participation in all phases of local government decision-making, and curbs misuse of the democratic process by secret legislation. Under the Act, all meetings of local legislative bodies are open and public, and all persons are permitted to attend the meetings. Statutory exceptions authorizing closed sessions are construed narrowly, and the Brown Act “sunshine law” is construed liberally in favor of openness in conducting public business. (98 Cal.Ops.Atty.Gen. 41 (2015).)

Modeled after the Brown Act, the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act directs that state body meetings are open and public and all persons are permitted to attend any state body meeting except as otherwise provided. Its purpose is to allow the public to attend and participate as fully as possible in a state body’s decision-making. (103 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 42 (2020).) The public’s right to open meetings is not only guaranteed by the Act but is enshrined in the California Constitution. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 3(b).)

The updated Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act Guide (2023) summarizes California law governing state boards and commission.

The Brown Act, Open Meetings for Local Legislative Bodies (2003) summarizes California law governing local boards and commissions.