Bill requiring agencies to retain electronic documents gets hostile amendment, approved by Appropriations Committee

Legislation that would prohibit agencies from destroying electronically held documents for at least 2 years took on hostile amendments at the 11th hour before it was sent to the Assembly floor by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 14-4 vote.

After the amendments, AB 1184, by Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) would apply only to emails.

The measure is supported by CNPA.

Prior to the recent amendments, the bill would have required “Every writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business transmitted by electronic mail or other similar messaging system to be retained and preserved by a public agency for at least 2 years unless a longer retention period is required by statute or regulation.”

The committee amendments removed the phrase “or other similar messaging system,” from the bill which would potentially allow agencies to destroy text messages, social media exchanges or other electronic communications sooner than 2 years. Ironically, these changes forced on the author appear to create a standard for disclosure that might be worse than existing law.

CNPA is working with the author’s office to determine how best to proceed in light of this development.