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Brown expected to sign legislation weakening open records law

A legislation that makes it optional for cities, counties, school districts and other government agencies to comply with key provisions of the California Public Records Act is expected to be signed into law today (June 19) by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The act now requires officials to respond to a request for records from a member of the public within 10 days and to make the documents available electronically. The change, which Brown requested as a cost-cutting measure, would allow the officials to skip both requirements with a voice vote once a year.

Such a vote would enable government agencies to reject requests for information without providing any legal reason, and those agencies would no longer be required to help citizens identify existing information they may want.

The LA Times says that because the legislation was attached to the budget bill, Brown would have to reject the entire bill if he were to block the open-records restrictions, and his administration has indicated that he intends to sign it.

Brown’s proposal, by making compliance with those provisions optional, would gut key pieces of the law, opponents said.

But according to the Times, the measure sailed though both houses of the Legislature during Friday’s budget debate with just one Democrat, Leland Yee of San Francisco, voting against it.

Yee, who is running for secretary of state next year, said the measure was “just the latest indication this nation is moving backward in terms of being open and transparent.” He said many of his fellow Democrats share the blame for that trend.

The Mercury News said in an editorial

The Fresno Bee said in an editorial:

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