California Proposition 42, Compliance of Local Agencies with Public Records (2014)
|Referred by:||California State Legislature|
|Status:||On the ballot|
California Proposition 42, the California Compliance of Local Agencies with Public Act (Senate Constitutional Amendment 3), is on the June 3, 2014 ballot in California as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.
If the initiative is approved by the state's voters, it will require all local agencies to comply with the California Public Records Act (CPRA) and the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act) and with any subsequent changes to the acts.
The California Public Records Act (CPRA) provides that public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of state or local agencies that retain those records and that every person has a right to inspect any public record.
The California Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act) requires local legislative bodies to provide notice of the time and place for holding regular meetings and requires that all meetings of a legislative body be open and public. Under the act, all persons are permitted to attend any meeting of the local legislative body, unless a closed session is authorized.
Text of measure
- “Requires local government agencies, including cities, counties, and school districts, to comply with specific state laws providing for public access to meetings of local government bodies and records of government officials.”
- "Eliminates requirements that the State reimburse local government agencies for compliance with these laws."
Fiscal impact statement:
- "Reduced state payments to local governments in the tens of millions of dollars annually."
- "Potential increased local government costs of tens of millions of dollars annually from possible additional state requirements on local governments to make information available to the public."
If the proposition is approved, it will amend Section 3 of Article I and Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution. To view the changes that the proposition would make, read the full text of constitutional changes here.
State Senator Mark Leno (D-11), who sponsored the measure in the legislature, said, "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. 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."
- California Newspaper Publishers Association
- California Common Cause
- League of Women Voters
- First Amendment Coalition
The argument in favor of Proposition 42 in the state's voter guide, signed by Rep. Mark Leno and Thomas W. Network, the Executive Director of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, stated the following:
- “In the past few years, though, key provisions of these great laws have been threatened when the state suffers fiscal crisis. In short, the state and local governments have been in long disagreement about the amount and level of state financial support for the local costs of complying with the public’s civil right of access to government… While most governments continued to comply during these short periods of fiscal stress, the public’s fundamental rights should not depend on the good graces of local officials.”
- “[Proposition 42] will ensure access to public records and meetings that are essential to expose and fight public corruption, like that experienced by the citizens of the City of Bell when public officials engaged in criminal acts and sacked the city’s coffers.”
- “Proposition 42 will eliminate the possibility that local agencies can deny a request for public information or slam a meeting door shut based on cost. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Information is the currency of democracy.” Tell the bureaucrats that the people - not the government - ought to decide what we need to know.”
Other supporting arguments include:
- Jim Ewert of the California Newspaper Publishers Association argued that the amendment “will fortify the public's right to access the meetings and records of government agencies as a bedrock principle of democratic government.”
- Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, argued, “[The amendment] removes any lingering doubt about local governments’ obligation to comply fully with the Public Records Act and Brown Act. removes any lingering doubt about local governments’ obligation to comply fully with the Public Records Act and Brown Act.”
- Rural County Representatives of California
Dan Carrigg of the League of California Cities expressed concern, but not necessarily opposition, for two reasons:
- First, he argued that the legislature would be exempt from certain protocols. “In the constitution there is an existing different standard that applies to agencies other than the Legislature when it comes to these issues versus the Legislature. If this is good public policy, then why is the Legislature exempt”?
- Second, he noted that “state mandates” are typically reimbursable by the state. However, Proposition 42 is not. “[The measure] potentially exposes the local governments to a growing assortment of additional requirements which will impose costs on local agencies for which they will not be able to recover their cost.”
Path to the ballot
- See also: Amending the California Constitution
The timeline for the enactment of Senate Constitutional Amendment #3 was:
- December 3, 2012: Introduced into the California Legislature
- July 3, 2013: Adopted in California State Senate
- September 10, 2013: Adopted in California State Assembly
- September 20, 2013: Filed with California Secretary of State
- Senate Constitutional Amendment 3
- Official Voter Information Guide for June 3, 2014 Statewide Direct Primary Election
- The Sacramento Bee, "California Public Records Act amendment going to June ballot", September 10, 2013
- San Jose Mercury News, "Calif. voters to consider public records amendment", September 10, 2013
- Capital Weekly, "Tensions over PRA, Brown Act", November 7, 2013
- Epoch Times, "Calif. Senate Committee Passes Public Records Amendment", June 26, 2013
- Official Voter Information Guide, "Argument in Favor," accessed March 10, 2014
- Rural County Representatives of California