Legislature introduces records reform bill spurred by recent disclosures

On Tuesday, the Legislature introduced AB 2032 which would enshrine into the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) the requirement that the Legislature must disclose documents related to complaints of harassment, discrimination or misconduct.

The measure comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement and California’s We Said Enough campaign, and a recent document dump where the Legislature took an unprecedented step of releasing a cache of records related to sexual misconduct complaints lodged in the last 10 years.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee is authoring the bill, a sign that the measure has broad support. The proposed law would codify the customs which the Legislature has recently adopted in response to significant public pressure, including from news organizations, to release records about harassment and sexual misconduct.

The bill’s introduction comes on the heels of a much-touted whistleblower bill that finally passed through the legislature after multiple attempts by Assemblymember Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), and was signed by the Governor on Monday, just hours after hitting his desk.

Ensuring that complaints and documents related to misconduct reports are publicly accessible will further bolster these whistleblower protections.

Early critics of the language have argued that AB 2032 does not go far enough, particularly because the proposal only requires the release of information about high-level employees.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the national dialogue on sexual harassment is driving long-needed reform to LORA.

“We are faced with a unique opportunity to fix some policies that should have been fixed a long time ago,” said Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) , the Judiciary Committee Chair told the Times. Stone said the bill, for now, seeks to ensure transparency in cases of “abuse of power.”