California voters will get a chance to weigh in on whether local governments must comply with, and pay for, public records act requests.
The Assembly passed a constitutional amendment on Wednesday that would enshrine the 1968 California Public Records Act in the state's constitution, clarifying that local agencies cannot reject requests for publicly available documents. The proposed amendment will appear on the June 2014 ballot.
Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, authored the measure in response to the fallout from a budget trailer bill that would have made providing some information optional for local governments.
Part of the issue -- and the reason the matter surfaced in a budget bill -- involved the state's costs for reimbursing local governments for their response to public records requests. The constitutional amendment headed to the ballot would require that local governments pay for those inquiries in full.
"Today's action by the Assembly allows California voters to debate the importance of strengthening the state's most critical open government laws by requiring compliance in the Constitution," Leno said in a statement. "If approved by voters, SCA 3 would permanently uphold and protect a person's right to inspect public records and attend public meetings, which are principles we all respect and treasure."
PHOTO: Sen. Mark Leno hugs then-state sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod after a vote on pension reform during session at Senate chambers at the State Capitol on August 31, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo.