Agencies may have public records official

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Governor hasn’t signed bill yet

After much debate and changes, the state Legislature approved Assembly Bill 1479 that amends the California Public Records Act. Gov. Jerry Brown has not yet announced whether he will sign or veto the bill.

If the governor signs it, public agencies (state and local) will have to designate someone to be custodian of records. This will be the person responsible for responding to any CPRA requests. This person also will have to explain to the public or requestor the reason for any denial of access to requested records. These provisions expire January 1, 2023.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta,18th Assembly District, is the author of AB 1479. When it passed the state Senate, he said in a press release, it would “… bring Californians closer to their local and state government by creating greater transparency and responsiveness. It will make it easier for people to access public records and address the issue of public agencies improperly withholding public records.”

An earlier version of the bill “… would have allowed a judge to impose civil penalties on an agency that fails to comply with the California Public Records Act,” according to the California News Publishers Association.

This requirement was removed and CNPA stated it had “… removed its support of the bill based on a previous amendment that weakened the bill.”

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