There was a political firestorm over the last week about the Public Records Act. State funding for local government agencies to respond to Public Records Act requests was almost cut. This withdrawal of state funds would have made it essential optional for counties and local government agencies to respond to Public Records Act requests.
Governor Brown announced a compromise yesterday. State funding would not be cut off. However, a proposed constitutional amendment would be placed on the ballot to shift financing of local governments’ compliance with the Public Records Act from the State to the local governments themselves.
Why do we care that the California Public Records Act remain alive and well? It is among the sunshine laws passed in the 1960s that lets citizens know what their government is up to. Ordinary people can obtain access to government records by making a written request. The agency must respond within 10 business days. If you take a police department for example, crime statistics, rules on use of force, and police officer training manuals all are open to the public.