Thursday, June 20, 2013

Brown won't gut public records act

The Sacramento Bee is reporting this afternoon (June 20) that Gov. Jerry Brown is backing away from his plan to make key provisions of the Public Records Act voluntary, a move that critics had said would gut the law that gives the public and media access to government records.

A bill to weaken the Public Records Act was added to the state budget on Friday, and passed by both houses. The Brown Administration's Department of Finance said the move was necessary to cut costs even though the state is projected to have a surplus.

But a massive backlash hit the Capitol, with good government groups such as Cal Aware and the First Amendment Coalition, along with the California Newspaper Publishers Association, lobbying Brown and legislative leaders to drop the changes to the records law.

This morning the Assembly voted to remove the bill weakening the law from the budget bill. The revised budget now goes to the Senate, which is expected to pass it.

However, Brown and Senate Democrats want to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year that would eliminate the requirement that the state reimburse local agencies for the cost of compliance with the law.

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