Jun 24 2013

Proposed Law Would Have Made Public Records Access Voluntary

Reversal returned public access to records to the status quo –

Senate Bill 71 and Assembly Bill 76, if approved, possibly would have limited public access to information including details on governmental decisions, public employee compensation, benefits and pensions costs. The outcry against the bills from media and good government advocates has been significant.  Recently in Piedmont, Public Records Act requests have revealed inappropriate use of monies for surface water runoff work, private contracts, and CEQA work not provided during public hearings.

Senate Bill 71 (SB 71) was introduced in the California Senate by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review on January 10, 2013, and amended on June 12 and passed by the Senate on June 14.  Assembly Bill 76 (AB 76) was passed on June 14.  The Senate version was amended in the Assembly on June 12 and 19.   SB 71 now excludes the AB 76 section 3 language:

“This bill would, commencing on the effective date of this bill, make compliance with certain provisions of the CPRA, which among other things relate to the delivery of electronic data, optional for local agencies.”

Late Thursday,  June 20,  Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez released the following statement:

“We agree there needs to be both an immediate fix to ensure local entities comply with the California Public Records Act and a long term solution so the California Public Records Act is not considered a reimbursable mandate. Accordingly, the Senate will take up the amended SB 71 passed by the Assembly today that removed changes in the budget regarding the California Public Records Act. As the Senate advances its proposed constitutional amendment, the Assembly will work with them throughout its process to give voters the chance to make clear that good government shouldn’t come with an extra price tag.”

Supporters of the rejected language may introduce it in the future as a cost-saving measure for local governments and agencies.

Assembly Bill 76 text

Senate Bill 71 text

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