California Records Access Threat– Journalists & Genealogists Respond — Updated

This has been a tumultuous week since we first became aware that the California Legislature intended to consider a proposal that would have made compliance with a California Public Records Act request voluntary, potentially undermining public access to public records..

An RPAC letter to Governor Brown voicing our concerns is attached here:  CA AB 76-1:

IAJGS also sent a letter to the Governor attached here:  IAJGS Veto Request- CA AB 76 Final

This action was originally suggested  as part of the governor’s budget proposal as a vehicle for cutting “tens of millions” of dollars annually from the state budget.  The legal framework applicable in California would require that if a state statute imposes  a mandate upon county and local agencies, the state must reimburse for the cost of compliance.  The intended effect of  making compliance voluntary, would have been to shift costs from the state budget books entirely to the subordinate jurisdictions.

The California Constitutional aspects of this issue were well addressed by The Legal Genealogist (Judy Russell) in her blog entry of 19 June 2013.   http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/2013/06/19/more-records-access-trouble-california/  .

Journalists and open-government advocates were outraged.  There has been an informative (and, at times entertaining) running commentary in local newspapers as this saga has unfolded.  Typically:
(1)  http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/13/5495425/dan-walters-budget-bill-trailers.html

(2)  http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/17/5503764/bill-would-let-calif-cities-decide.html

(3)  http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/20/5510532/legislature-plots-new-course-following.html?storylink=lingospot

(4)  http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/06/jerry-brown-says-voters-should-decide-open-records-question.html

(5)  http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/06/senators-introduce-constitutional-amendment-on-california-records-law.html

(6)  Dan Walters Daily: Legislative scramble a bit like Laurel & Hardy

With thanks to RPAC Member Jan Meisels Allen for continuing to monitor this developing issue.

 

 

 

                                                          

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