Bill allowing requesters to make their own copies of public records sails through Senate committee

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted its approval of a bill that would allow CPRA requesters to use their own equipment, such as a cell phone, to copy public records.

AB 1819 by the Assembly Judiciary Committee has the strong support of CNPA, as it allows requesters a way to copy public records without facing sometimes-steep duplication costs charged by agencies.

The measure was introduced to end the practice of state and local agencies using the cost of providing copies of public records as a means to delay and obstruct access to those records.

Under the bill an agency could prevent a requester from using his or her own equipment to make a copy of a record if the mechanism used to make the copy would damage the document.

An increasing number of agencies have used the cost provision in the CPRA to block public access to information. These agencies charge requesters exorbitant amounts before they will provide copies of requested documents which many requesters can ill afford to pay.

The bill moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee where it will be taken up after the legislature’s summer recess which begins on July 12 and ends on August 12.