Proposed Cuts Jeopardize California Open Records Laws

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Gov. Jerry Brown

California Governor Jerry Brown looks on before delivering the State of the State address at the State Capitol on January 31, 2011 in Sacramento. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO (AP) – Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to cut state spending could jeopardize one of the cornerstones of California’s open records laws—the requirement that government bodies give the public fair notice about meetings.

The state Legislature already has suspended $63 million in unpaid claims since 2004 for local governments to comply with the law. Brown is seeking to continue the suspension for 2011-12, leaving the mandate in legal limbo.

Voters in 2004 amended the California Constitution to require that meetings of public bodies and records of public officials and agencies be open to the public, but a lawsuit forced the state to pay for such mandates.

Some open-government advocates are worried that agencies will use the uncertainty over the status of the Brown Act to avoid complying with it.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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