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Bill would create civil penalty for agencies that violate CPRA

Bill would create civil penalty for agencies that violate CPRA

To the delight of public access advocates in the Capitol, Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) has authored a bill that would create a fine for an agency that violates the California Public Records Act by charging excessively for a requester to access records, or unreasonably delaying access to records.

AB 1479 was introduced after a constituent complained to Bonta that the CPRA has no teeth, and pointed him to a Massachusetts law which permits a judge to penalize an agency for failing to comply with the state’s public records law.

CNPA is working with the First Amendment Coalition, the ACLU and other good government groups to support the measure, which will get its first hearing on Tuesday.

The bill is being opposed by advocates for local agencies, including the special districts, counties and the League of Cities. The oppositions’ main expressed concern is that the measure would impose an additional step to review records, bottlenecking CPRA requests and creating more delay. Clearly not the intent of the bill, this concern has been addressed by amendments that the author will take at the hearing on Tuesday.

CNPA urges members to watch this bill as it moves through the Legislature, and to editorialize in support of AB 1479. Here is CNPA’s letter of support.