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Open Records Laws Possibly Jeopardized By Proposed Spending Cuts

Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to cut state spending could jeopardize one of the cornerstones of California's open records laws - the requirement that government bodies give the public fair notice about meetings.

The state Legislature already has suspended $63 million in annual funding for local governments to comply with the law. Brown is seeking to suspend it for the entire 2011-12 fiscal year, leaving the mandate in legal limbo.

Voters in 2004 amended the California Constitution to require that meetings of public bodies and records of public officials and agencies be open to the public, but a lawsuit forced the state to pay for such mandates.

Some open-government advocates are worried that agencies will use the uncertainty over the status of the Brown Act to avoid complying with it.

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