Wednesday, June 19, 2013

AB 76 Guts Local Labor Associations' Access to Public Records

AB 76 makes key provisions of the California Public Records Act optional for local governments.  Among the provisions that would be optional under the new law are the requirements local agencies respond to public records requests within 10 days and provide requestor’s with electronic versions of public records.  These provisions are critical to labor associations who need prompt responses to public records requests, especially during contract negotiations.  The Assembly and Senate passed the bill, which contains other provisions related to the budget.  It is currently on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature. 

Since the provisions received significant attention earlier this week, Assembly Speaker John Perez promised to pass a replacement bill that leave the Public Records Act intact.  However, it looks like the State Senate will not act on his replacement bill.  Senate President Pro Tem Darryl Steinberg announced today the Senate won’t take up Perez’s bill, noting the changes to the Public Records Act are designed to save money, not stifle access to records.  That’s because if the provisions are mandatory, the State has to reimburse local governments for compliance, but if its optional, the State doesn’t have to reimburse them.  While local labor associations have other access to records under the MMBA and state labor laws, unlike the MMBA, the CPRA has a powerful enforcement mechanism giving associations teeth when they have to force an employer to turn over public records.