Author withdraws bill that threatened CPRA enforcement

Earlier this week, the author of legislation that would have made it more difficult for CPRA requesters to go to court to protect their right to access government held information withdrew the bill after facing a firestorm of opposition.

The bill, SB 615 by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) would also have imposed nearly impossible-to-meet burdens on requesters to recover their attorney’s fees and costs if they prevailed in the litigation.

CNPA members as well as the Voice of San Diego excoriated the Senator and the sponsor of the bill, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, in stories, editorials and op-eds that identified the threat the bill posed to the CPRA and questioned the motives behind the effort.

CNPA staff met with the Senator’s office late last week. Staff shared numerous anecdotes of agencies abusing the CPRA and explained the detrimental impact of the bill on the public’s right to know before requesting that the Senator not pursue the bill.

The death blow to SB 615 occurred when the San Diego City Council, ostensibly the beneficiary of the bill, unanimously voted to oppose it. Council members expressed discomfort with the bill and said that they only learned the city attorney was sponsoring the measure after reading about it in the news.

The Senator withdrew SB 615 the following day.

Hueso suggested he might take another stab at reform in the future but for this session, the issue is dead.