Senate Bill 8, which would expand the authority of the California Public Records Act on the state's college campuses, is heading to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration.
The San Francisco Democrat's two previous bills to subject college auxiliary organizations, such as foundations, to the state's public records act were vetoed by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Senate approved amendments to the current version today, 36-1, sending it to Brown's desk.
Private organizations that support public universities are now exempt from having to disclose much of the information that public agencies usually make public.
For example, last year the foundation at California State University, Stanislaus, declined to report how much it was paying former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to speak at a fundraiser -- until it was forced to do so by the courts. Yee made national headlines by drawing attention to the case.
Yee's two previous bills were opposed by the University of California and the California State University, which said many donors did not want to have their identities revealed.
But UC and CSU dropped their opposition to the current bill after Yee agreed to amend it to protect the anonymity of donors except in situations in which the donor receives something from the university worth more than $2,500 or in which the donor receives a no-bid contract within five years of the donation. The bill also does not grant anonymity to donors who attempt to influence curriculum or university operations.
"I am looking forward to the Governor's signature of this bill and finally bringing true transparency to our public institutions of higher learning," Yee said in a statement. "This law will ensure sunshine and accountability of the administration of billions of dollars within UC and CSU."
PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, right, discusses the the documents related to a speaking contract for former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, found in the trash bins at California State University, Stanislaus, during a news conference in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. CSU, Stanislaus students Alicia Lewis, left, and Ashli Briggs, right, say they were tipped off about administration officials' attempt to get rid of documents concerning Palin's speaking appearance with the CSU Stanislaus Foundation in June. (AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli)