To avert possible legal challenges, the Authority should ensure that the review group adheres to the Meeting Act or seek a formal opinion from the Office of the Attorney General regarding whether the review group is subject to this act.
As reported to the California State Auditor in the Authority's SB 1452 response dated September 17, 2012, and as discussed in Will Kempton's letter dated December 13, 2012, (provided with the one-year response) to the State Auditor, the peer review group serves as an advisor to the Legislature and is not appointed by nor does it report to the Authority. The Authority, therefore, does not have the legal authority to direct how the peer review group conducts its meetings, including providing legal advice to the group about open meeting law requirements.
We remain concerned that the peer review group is subject to the Bagley Keene Open Meeting Act. We still believe the California High-Speed Rail Authority is an appropriate entity to request a legal opinion on this topic.
Under California Public Utilities Code section 185035 individuals are appointed to an independent peer review group by the Treasurer, the Controller, the Director of Finance and the Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing. The peer review group evaluates the Authority's funding plans and prepares its independent judgment as to the feasibility and reasonableness of the plans, appropriateness of assumptions, analysis and estimates, and any other observations or evaluations it deems necessary. It reports its findings to the Legislature. While the Authority must provide any, and all, information requested by the peer review group, it does not have the legal authority to direct how the peer review group conducts its meetings including providing legal advice to the group about open meeting law requirements.
Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.