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steinbergleno.JPGThe tussling over the California Public Records Act took a new turn Wednesday as Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said the Senate will hold any bill from the Assembly that contains amendments meant to restore mandates to the law.

Instead, Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, will introduce a constitutional amendment Thursday that would require local government ts to comply with the records act without receiving reimbursement from the state .

"The amendment will clarify that this controversy was never about weakening the Public Records Act," Steinberg said. "It instead is about whether state taxpayers pay the bill for what cities and counties should be doing on their own."

The Legislature has been battered by criticism from open government activists over Assembly Bill 76, which both houses passed on party-line votes last week. The budget trailer bill would make multiple provisions in the records act "optional best practices," instead of a mandate that requires the state to reimburse local agencies for complying.

Before Steinberg's press conference, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said in a statement that the Assembly plans to send a second bill to Gov. Jerry Brown that does not have the records act changes. That bill, SB 71, will be taken up by the Assembly on Thursday, Pérez said in the statement.

"To be clear, this means that the California Public Records Act will remain intact without any changes as part of the budget - consistent with the Assembly's original action," Pérez said.

An hour later, Steinberg said the Senate plans to hold that bill until "we get word from one public entity that they are not complying with the law."

PHOTO: Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, discuss their plans for the California Public Records Act in a press conference Wednesday. The Sacramento Bee / Melody Gutierrez


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