California Gov. Jerry Brown is poised to sign legislation that could reduce the public’s access to basic government records that have long been used to scrutinize the actions of elected officials, reports the Los Angeles Times. The proposal, a late insert into the state budget that lawmakers passed last week, would allow local officials to opt out of parts of the California law that gives citizens access to government documents.
Officials now must respond to a request for records within 10 days and are required to make the documents available electronically. The change, which Brown requested as a cost-cutting measure, would allow the officials to skip both requirements with a voice vote. The same vote would permit them to reject requests without explanation. The California Newspaper Publishers Association called the measure a stealth attack on government transparency and a blow to the public’s right to information.