Calif. voters to consider public records amendment

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/12/2013 - 9:02am

From San Jose Mercury News: SACRAMENTO, Calif.—California voters will decide whether the public's right to inspect local government records should be enshrined in the state constitution after lawmakers voted Tuesday to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next June. If voters approve, local governments would have to follow the California Public Records Act and the state's open-meetings law but would not be reimbursed by the state for doing so.

The legislation, SCA3, was proposed in response to a media outcry over changes that loosened requirements on how local governments handle requests for public records. Lawmakers said the changes, which were proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in the state budget, were intended to save the state millions of dollars it must pay local governments for following the law.

The state "should not have to provide a fiscal incentive to local governments so that they comply with these important transparency laws," said Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who sponsored the amendment.

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Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, which supports the amendment, said enshrining the access to public records in the state constitution "will fortify the public's right to access the meetings and records of government agencies as a bedrock principle of democratic government."

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