• Attorney General Opinion: Community College District’s Joint Labor Management Benefits Committee Is Not Required to Comply with State’s Open Meeting Law
  • March 5, 2010 | Author: Diana D. Halpenny
  • Law Firm: Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard, A Law Corporation - Sacramento Office
  • In Opinion 08-806, the California Attorney General was asked for an opinion on whether a community college district’s joint labor management benefits committee (“Committee”) was required to comply with California’s open meeting law, the Ralph M. Brown Act (“Act”), which bans most closed sessions or private caucuses of members of a legislative body.

    The Attorney General opined that because the committee was not a legislative body, and not created by a formal action of a legislative body, it was therefore not a “legislative body” as defined by the Act and not subject to the open meeting requirements of the Act.

    Attorney General Opinion
    Reviewing the language of the Brown Act, the Attorney General noted that it defines “legislative body” as: a) the governing body of a local agency created by state or federal statute; or, b) “a commission, committee, board or other body of a local agency, whether permanent or temporary, decision making or advisory, created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body.”

    Here, the Los Angeles Community College District (“District”) and six of its employees’ bargaining units entered into an agreement to create the Committee for the purpose of evaluating the cost and effectiveness of the District’s health benefits program. The Committee was not created by state or federal statute, nor was it created by the formal action of a legislative body. Rather, it was created through the collective bargaining process by District officials and employee bargaining units.

    The Attorney General concluded the committee was not a “legislative body” as defined by the Act. It follows, the Attorney General added, that the Act’s open meetings provisions do not apply to the Committee and do not prohibit its members from having closed sessions or private caucuses.

    What This Means To You
    This opinion reaffirms that the Brown Act’s open meeting laws are only applicable to legislative bodies and committees, boards or other bodies created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body and not to committees created through the collective bargaining process which include employee members. However Districts should consult with legal counsel whenever creating a committee or other body which includes Governing Board members.