Senate Committee passes bill to protect immigrant information with sweeping disclosure prohibitions

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation intended to shield information from the federal government about undocumented persons that are involved in state programs or receive state services, but it would also prohibit any public disclosure of personal information collected by the universities, colleges, or state or local agencies that administer the programs or services.

SB 244 by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-South Gate) would add a section to the Information Practices Act that would end the ability of the public or a journalist to investigate whether a state or local agency’s service or program is operating efficiently, or whether the tax dollars allocated are going to the intended recipients or the cronies of a corrupt official.

Additionally, the proposed new Civil Code section would allow disclosure of the information only after the subject provides consent. This provision would permit a person who faces the potential disclosure of unflattering or embarrassing information to effectively control the use of the information held by a government agency and likely result in a sharp rise in reverse CPRA lawsuits.

The bill was passed by the committee on a partisan 5-2 vote.

CNPA is opposed to the measure and is working with the author and the bill’s primary sponsor, the ACLU, on amendments that would narrow the bill’s application and allow the public to continue to access information to investigate fraud, abuse and corruption.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in two weeks.