Capitol Alert: Assembly sends Senate a bill reversing public records changes

mgutierrez@sacbee.comJune 20, 2013 

Assembly Democrats sent a bill reversing changes to the California Public Records Act to the Senate on Thursday following a 52-25 vote along party lines.

Assembly Republicans said that despite their support of the records act, they would not support the budget trailer bill because it was loaded with other provisions they opposed.

Now, the Senate will have to decide what to do with Senate Bill 71, which now duplicates Assembly Bill 76 minus AB 76's public records changes. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg , D-Sacramento, said Wednesday that his house would hold SB 71 if the Assembly passed it.

Instead, Steinberg said he would support plans by Sen. Mark Leno , D-San Francisco, to seek a constitutional amendment restoring the records act, but without the requirement that the state pay for local governments to comply.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement Wednesday in which he supported the Senate's plans to put the issue before voters as a constitutional amendment next year. On Thursday, Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, said he would do the same.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said Thursday on the floor the constitutional amendment is a long-term solution while the Assembly's revised bill addresses immediate concerns.

Assembly Budget chair Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, said the lower house needs to do what's right, regardless of what the Senate plans to do.

"Our charge is to put forward the best legislation we can and send it over there," Blumenfield said. "If they aren't inclined to do it, then we go and talk to them and get them to be inclined to do it. That's what our leadership is about. That's what the public is about."

Republicans used the Assembly floor debate surrounding SB 71 as an opportunity to highlight their attempts to require legislation be in print for 72 hours before coming up for a vote.

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen , R-Modesto, said she found it hypocritical "that the same folks who didn't want to release their office budgets two years ago ... are now falling all over themselves to defend the public records act."

"We need to hold ourselves accountable to the same standards that this body continues to place on other agencies," Olsen said.

Blumenfield said the 72-hour provision was unrelated to the public records act changes, which were included in the governor's January budget proposal.

Blumenfield said the Assembly held fast against the records act changes last month, despite no clear opposition to the provisions Brown sought.

"We have a lot of folks waking up on this issue," Blumenfield said. "This is basically a reversion back to the Assembly's position."

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