Brown pushing to make California Public Records Act compliance optional
June 21, 2013
California Governor Jerry Brown is proposing changes to the California Public Records Act that would allow local governments to opt out of compliance with certain aspects of the law. [LA Times]
If approved, the proposal would allow local agencies and commissions to exempt themselves by way of voice vote from the requirements of responding to records requests within 10 days and making the documents available electronically.
The proposed changes to the Public Records Act passed both the Assembly and the Senate Friday as part of the state budget. Brown, who has yet to sign the bill, says the proposed changes are cost cutting measures that would save the state the expense of reimbursing officials for producing some records.
Brown’s proposal to weaken the Public Records Act comes as he, along with the legislators, is receiving a 5 percent pay raise, which a state panel approved Wednesday.
Brown said Wednesday evening that California residents should have prompt access to government records and that he supported “enshrining these protections in California’s Constitution.” However, the governor suggested that residents ensure such access through a ballot measure that would force local governments to absorb all expense incurred while responding to record requests.
Wednesday, Assembly Speaker John Perez offered legislation that would rescind the gutting of the Public Records Act, but Brown and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg rejected the proposal.
A group of big-city mayors also met with Brown in the Capitol Wednesday, and they, too, criticized the proposed changes to the records law.
“For them to stick this into a larger budget just seems to be corrosive to democracy,” said Los Angeles Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti.
Dozens of news agencies also criticized the proposal Wednesday.