Special to the Vanguard
Sacramento, CA – A recent phenomenon has been the increasing number of people—particularly from extremist groups like the Proud Boys—who have disrupted public meetings.
Senator Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley) and Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) introduced a bill, SB 1100, to address the increased number of public meeting disruptions local governments are facing statewide, which was signed into law today by Governor Gavin Newsom.
Last year, as local officials in Silicon Valley—including AAPI public officials such as Los Gatos Mayor Marico Sayoc—faced an increased number of targeted bullying and harassment efforts statewide, Senator Cortese and Assemblymember Low expressed their support for establishing mechanisms to de-escalate disruptions during public meetings that significantly interrupt public business.
By establishing common-sense mechanisms to deescalate significant disruptions and allow members of a legislative body to return to their important governmental business in a swift manner, SB 1100 would enhance public access to meetings and enhance the democratic process.
“We are thrilled that SB 1100 has been signed into law to protect the public, local officials, and the democratic process during our public meetings. I’d like to thank Governor Newsom for recognizing the need for this bill and for ensuring public meetings can be safe places where important business can occur and where the public can participate, engage, and be heard,” said Senator Dave Cortese, one of the bill’s authors.
Senator Cortese explained: “This was a piece of legislation that our local governments and meeting goers across the state requested, and I’m proud that we were able to work with First Amendment advocates and attorneys to craft a solution that could both address the sharp increase in abuse that public officials and meeting attendees were facing while protecting our first amendment rights.”
Assemblymember Evan Low added: “Hate speech, threats, bullying, harassment, and intimidation at public meetings are absolutely unacceptable. These disruptive behaviors drive people away from civic engagement. This is an important step in maintaining public participation, and I would like to thank the Governor for recognizing the importance of ensuring a safe democratic process.”
“Senate Bill 1100 provides an important tool to combat the appalling behavior, threats, and intimidation tactics communities have been subjected to at public meetings. Its application will ensure broad participation and protect the productive exchange of ideas essential to our democratic process,” said California State Association of Counties Executive Director Graham Knaus.
Kraus continued, “We applaud Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of Senate Bill 1100, and we thank Senator Dave Cortese and Assemblymember Evan Low for their advocacy on behalf of this bill and local agencies throughout the state.”