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The Assembly has decided not to appeal a Sacramento Superior Court judge's ruling requiring it to release member-by-member budgets and any changes made to them through the year.

Robin Swanson, spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, said that attorneys for the Assembly are focusing now on complying with the judge's ruling and on a timeline for document release.

The Assembly's decision not to appeal had seemed likely since hours after Judge Timothy M. Frawley's ruling on Dec. 1. Swanson said at the time that there were no immediate plans to appeal, but that attorneys were reviewing the matter.

Swanson said today that the decision not to appeal is consistent with the Assembly's "longstanding commitment to increasing public access" to its documents.

Frawley ruled in a suit filed by The Bee and Los Angeles Times that member-by-member budgets and any changes made to them throughout the year are public records that must be disclosed.

The decision applies not only to the budgets and expenditures of each Assembly member but to policy committees as well.

The two newspapers filed suit after the Assembly balked at releasing member budgets in the wake of a claim by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada-Flintridge, that his office funding had been cut for casting the lone Democratic vote against this year's budget.

Pérez, through Swanson, had claimed that Portantino's funds were cut for overspending.

The Assembly argued that member-by-member budgets and related documents were exempt from disclosure under public-records law because they were subject to change throughout the year, they were correspondence to members, and they contained personnel information.

Frawley disagreed, saying that California law "reflects a strong presumption in favor of public access to legislative records" and that exemptions "should be narrowly construed to ensure maximum disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations."


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