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Prop. 42 Would Require Local Agencies To Pay For Public Records Requests

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Capital Public Radio

An exterior view of the brick City Hall building in Bell, Calif.

Proposition FAQ

What will this proposition change?

If Proposition 42 passes, the state constitution would be amended to require that local governments comply with the California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown Act and that those local agencies cover the costs of compliance.

What do proponents say?

The state of California should not be required to reimburse local governments for the cost of complying with public-access laws.


What do opponents say?

There is no formal opposition. However, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says Proposition 42 could potentially increase local government costs by tens of millions of dollars annually to make information available to the public.

The backers of Prop 42 say the initiative was inspired by a scandal:

“Eight current and former officials of the small blue-collar town of Bell are being arraigned on corruption charges this morning…they are accused of misappropriation of more than $5.5 million of Bell city funds…All eight city leaders are still here in jail at the L.A. County Jail…”

“That has become the poster child, without a doubt,” says Senator Mark Leno who helped put Prop 42 on the ballot. “If it weren’t for the California Public Records Act, it may have taken a lot longer for all of the scandal that was revealed to have been revealed.”

Prop 42 amends the state constitution to require that cities, counties and other local government agencies comply with both the California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown Act and pay for the cost of compliance. In other words, local bureaucracies wouldn’t be able to say – “we’re not going to comply with your request for documents because we can’t afford to.”

“So once it’s in the constitution," explains Leno, "there will be no requirement that the state has to pay local governments or give them a financial incentive to be what they should be doing anyway, which is complying.”

There’s no known organized opposition to Proposition 42. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates the initiative could potentially increase local government costs by tens of millions of dollars a year.


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