LOS GATOS, Calif. (KRON) — A new California law will protect local mayors and city councilmembers from bullying and harassment at public meetings.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 1100 into law this week. “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 Graham Knaus, director of California State Association of Counties.

Senator Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley) and Assemblymember Evan Low’s (D-Silicon Valley) co-authored the bill to address a rising tide of disruptions at public meetings and establish mechanisms to de-escalate disruptions that interrupt public business.

Last year, anti-vaccine and anti-LGBTQ groups targeted Los Gatos Mayor Marico Sayoc during town council meetings.

One Los Gatos resident spoke at the podium during an October meeting to say, “Madam Sayoc, you are not God! How dare you force your ideologies on our children! We the people of Los Gatos do not consent to the forced mutilation of our bodies, mind, and sovereignty.”

More residents at the same meeting screamed at Sayoc, accusing her of endangering children’s lives, until the meeting was paused and moved to online Zoom-only.

Senator Cortese said this week, “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. 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.”

Low said, “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.”