Two CPRA bills survive suspense file, one is left to languish

The Assembly Appropriations Committee yesterday on an 18-0 vote gave the nod to Assemblymember Vince Fong’s (R-Bakersfield) AB 289, which would create a CPRA Ombudsperson in the State Auditor’s Office to review denials of CPRA requests by state agencies. The bill will now head to the Assembly floor for a vote by the entire house. CNPA supports AB 289.

AB 941, authored by Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), didn’t fare as well. The bill as initially introduced would have expanded the exemption in the CPRA for investigatory files, but early in the legislative process CNPA secured amendments to the bill so that it did not harm the public’s right to know. In its amended form, the bill simply required law enforcement agencies to inform victims and witnesses of certain gang-related offenses that their names would become a matter of public record unless the victim or witness could provide evidence that disclosure of the person’s name would endanger their safety. AB 941 was “held in committee,” the equivalent of a parliamentary death sentence.

In the other house, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 4-2 to allow SB 749 by Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) to proceed to the Senate floor. SB 749 would amend the trade secrets exemption in the CPRA to specify that records relating to wages, benefits, working hours, and other employment terms and conditions of employees working for private companies pursuant to a government contract are subject to disclosure. CNPA initially supported SB 749 based on provisions that would have created protections for requesters in reverse public records actions, but those provisions of the bill have since been removed by the Senator.