Capitol Alert

Ain’t no sunshine in this California resolution

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, at the state Capitol in 2013. Maienschein is the author of a resolution designating March 12-18 as Sunshine Week. A recent amendment removed language requiring the Legislature to make available “all legislative information at its disposal.”
Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, at the state Capitol in 2013. Maienschein is the author of a resolution designating March 12-18 as Sunshine Week. A recent amendment removed language requiring the Legislature to make available “all legislative information at its disposal.” hamezcua@sacbee.com

Government-transparency advocates have long questioned the records policies of the California Legislature, where rules hamper attempts by the media and others to glean details about lawmakers’ calendars, internal investigations and other information.

Then came last month’s introduction of Assembly Concurrent Resolution 25 to designate March 12-18 as “Sunshine Week” to coincide with the annual recognition of the state’s open-records rules and, as the measure reads, “the public’s right to know what its government is doing and why.”

Unlike past Sunshine Week resolutions, ACR 25 also included language requiring the Legislature “to make available to the public all legislative information at its disposal.” Later, the measure resolved “that the California Legislature shall make available to the public all legislative information tools at its disposal.”

On Monday, though, an author’s amendment struck the Legislature-specific language.

No one in the office of the measure’s author, Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, was available for comment Wednesday.

The California Open Records Act covers government agencies around the state but not the Legislature, which has the narrower Legislative Open Records Act, known as LORA.

David Snyder, executive director of the San Rafael-based First Amendment Coalition, said Californians would welcome “with open arms a statement from the Legislature that it wants to make available all information at its disposal.” The original ACR 25 language likely would have left intact LORA’s provisions, he added, but it still could have had an effect.

“Even if it weren’t binding law, it would be something advocates for transparency would be citing in briefs arguing that LORA should be interpreted broadly,” he said. “Obviously someone in the Legislature thought twice about that.”

  Comments