CPRA penalty bill gutted by hostile amendments

After advancing through the Assembly as a strong transparency measure, AB 1479 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to nullify the effectiveness of the bill.

The measure would have allowed a judge to impose civil penalties on an agency that failed to comply with the California Public Records Act. Prior to the Judiciary committee hearing, the California Professional Firefighters were actively opposing the measure and urging the author’s office to take hostile amendments that would prevent the application of the penalty provision.

Against CNPA’s expressed concerns that the amendments would undermine the bill, the author was persuaded to take the firefighters’ amendments. After all of the supporters, led by CNPA, removed their backing of the bill, the firefighters were the only organization to express support for the bill at the hearing.

As now drafted, the penalty provision of AB 1479 would be nearly impossible for a court to apply.

CNPA will continue to monitor the measure to ensure that it is not amended in a way that would have a harmful impact on the CPRA. The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the bill after summer recess.