Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature backed off plans to make the open records law optional for cities after outspoken criticism for the past week.
Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said the Public Records Act will remain intact without any changes, as it was originally proposed in the Assembly version of the budget.
The budget passed June 14 included an amendment to make portions of the open-records law optional for local government agencies. If it was signed by Brown, agencies wouldn’t have to respond to a public request for information within 10 days, or provide any reason for taking longer than 10 days. The agencies could deny the request altogether and choose an alternate format to release information that is available electronically.
The Legislature plans to put a constitutional amendment on the June 2014 ballot to mandate compliance but have local agencies bear the costs, as they do now, the Sacramento Bee reported. Brown and the Legislature wanted to make compliance optional so the state wouldn’t have to reimburse cities and other local agencies for the cost of processing records requests.
“We all agree that Californians have a right to know and should continue to have prompt access to public records, and I support enshrining these protections in California’s constitution,” Brown said in a statement.