Capitol Alert: Senators introduce constitutional amendment on California records law

amantz@sacbee.comJune 21, 2013 

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Gov. Jerry Brown celebrates the budget deal with Democratic legislative leaders Darrell Steinberg, left, and John A. Pérez.

RANDY PENCH — rpench@sacbee.com

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on Friday introduced a measure to incorporate provisions of the California Public Records Act in the state's constitution.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 3 would require cities, counties and other local government agencies to comply with the records law and the Brown Act, which regulates public meetings, and exempts the state from having to pay local agencies the cost of carrying out the laws.

Leno and Steinberg first proposed amending the constitution to solve the ongoing controversy raised by a budget bill making optional several pieces of the records law.

Media and open government advocates balked at the changes the bill made to the law, warning that removing local agencies' legal obligation to comply could hinder the public's right to access government documents.

Leno and Steinberg favored amending the constitution as a permanent solution to problem.

"All of the provisions of the Public Records Act are critically important to preserving open government, and that is why they belong in the California Constitution," Leno said in a press release.

The amendment needs a two-thirds vote to clear the Legislature and appear on the June 2014 ballot.

In the meantime, the Assembly passed a revised bill that does not include the changes to the records law. The Senate has said it will take up the bill, and Gov. Jerry Brown is also expected to support the change.

The amendment language is included below. Because of a technical error, the principal authors and co-authors listed are not correct, according to Leno's office. Leno and Steinberg are the only joint authors of the amendment.

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