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6/18/2013 | Press Release

Assemblyman Logue Urges Governor Brown To Veto Budget Bill Gutting Public Records Act

Jamie Mauhay (916) 319-2003
Announces Plan to Introduce Legislation to Restore Transparency in Government
 
SACRAMENTO – North State Assemblyman Dan Logue today urged Governor Brown to veto a budget trailer bill that he said would effectively gut the state Public Records Act at the local level, which provides Californians with the ability to obtain documents about state and local government actions and hold government officials accountable.
 
If the Governor signs this measure into law, Assemblyman Logue plans to introduce legislation to restore the Public Records Act.
 
“Gutting the Public Records Act is a dream come true for scandal-ridden local governments such as the city of Bell.  Under this law, bureaucrats would be able to shield corruption and scandal from taxpayers,” said Logue.  “Time and time again, the majority party has pulled out all the stops to block Californians from knowing how their government is operating.  California’s right to know should not be compromised because the majority party continues to overspend.” 
 
Legislative Democrats approved a trailer bill (Assembly Bill 76) as part of the majority vote budget plan enacted on Friday that suspends key provisions of the California Public Records Act relating to the ability of taxpayers to request government data and documents from local governments.  If Governor Brown signs the measure into law, the new provisions would impact cities, counties and special districts throughout the state.
 
Specifically, Assembly Bill 76 would:
  • Make optional provisions in current law requiring local government officials to respond to requests from the public for public documents within 10 days of the request;
  • Encourage local governments to adhere to the current provisions in law as “best practices,” but give them the ability to announce annually if they are suspending these requirements;
  • Eliminate requirements that local government officials must help citizens complete their Public Records Act requests by disclosing what records are available to be requested; and
  • Allow local governments to decide whether to provide an electronic copy of documents or provide paper documents.
 
Logue noted that California was recently given an “F” grade by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group for its lack of transparency in government spending, ranking 49th out of the 50 states. 
 
He said that the budget trailer bill was one in a series of moves by Democrats to make government less open and less accessible to the people.  Earlier this year, Democrats passed dozens of empty so-called budget spot bills that paved the way for the type of backroom budget deals that included the provision to undermine the Public Records Act.  They also blocked Republican-authored legislation to make the legislative and budget processes more transparent.
 
“This latest scheme to undermine the Public Records Act will effectively shut the people out of their government if it becomes law,” said Logue.  “Access to public data and records is key to empowering the people to make their voices heard.  Every elected official – regardless of party – should embrace openness and transparency as our key governing principle.  Governor Brown should veto this offensive legislation and reaffirm the state’s commitment to an accessible and accountable government for the taxpayers it serves.”
 
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