While open-records advocates urge Gov. Jerry Brown to veto legislation that would weaken California's open-records law, crime victim advocates are raising objections to language in the same bill that would relax requirements for how local agencies handle domestic violence cases.
The language, included in a package of budget bills Brown is expected to sign this month, would make optional an existing law requiring local agencies to implement written policies encouraging the arrest of domestic violence offenders if there is probable cause a crime has been committed.
The bill would also make optional -- but encourage as a "best practice" -- a requirement that agencies maintain a record of protection orders related to domestic violence cases to help law enforcement officers responding to domestic violence calls.
The Brown administration said the domestic violence mandates have been temporarily suspended for more than 20 years and that the legislation would not alter how cases are handled in California.
"What is proposed in the budget regarding this essentially updates state statutes to reflect what has been standard operating procedures," said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Brown's Department of Finance, "Local governments have been performing these activities as a matter of course and a matter of good government without state involvement."
Christine Ward, director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance, said the change in state code would represent a "terrifying" step back for victims of domestic violence. The district attorneys of Los Angeles and Sacramento counties have both urged Brown to veto the legislation.
In a letter today, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said eliminating such mandates could "roll back years of hard fought victories made by victim's rights and domestic violence prevention advocates."
PHOTO: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez celebrate a budget deal with a formal announcement at the California Capitol on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench