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Lawmakers express concern over so-called ‘lab gag’ bill, but advance it anyway

AB 700, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman’s (D-Glendale) bill to shield records related to research at public universities from disclosure under the California Public Records Act, was heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee this week.

CNPA submitted a letter opposing the bill unless it is amended to narrow the scope of the exemption to the CPRA it creates. CNPA staff also testified at the committee hearing about its concerns with the bill. Acknowledging the issues raised by CNPA and others, several committee members urged Assemblywoman Friedman to continue to work with stakeholders to narrow the bill.

Despite recommending that the bill be passed by the committee, Chairman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) expressed reservations about the bill’s provisions that exempt records from disclosure. “These are public institutions that we’re closing a door to and I think we need to tread very carefully when we try to do that.”

Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Nicolaus) one of only three committee members to vote against the bill, summed up the issue with the bill when he said “I don’t think we can underscore this enough — it’s important that the public has a right to know about how these studies are being conducted, about what’s behind the findings, [and] what correspondence was taking place between those who have a stake in the issue [and the researcher].”

CNPA will continue to work with Assemblywoman Friedman to the extent it is possible to narrow the scope of AB 700 as it continues through the legislative process.

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