SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown indicated that he would support protecting public access to government records in a constitutional amendment to be voted on next fall, but still supports temporarily weakening the law that ensures public access to official documents.
Brown's comments, which came in a statement released Wednesday evening, capped a wild day at the state Capitol, which had lawmakers scrambling to cope with the fallout of last week's vote to water down the law. At Brown's urging, both houses approved a measure making local compliance with part of the state's public records laws optional.
The controversy has sparked a rift between Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), who now supports removing the provision from the state budget approved last week, and Brown and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who have both indicated that they want a temporary change in the law to save the state millions of dollars.
If approved by Brown, the legislation would allow cities, counties and local government to "opt out" of some provisions of the law. It is expected to be signed by the governor this week.
By Wednesday afternoon, Pérez announced that the Assembly was changing course. "We were opposed to the change from the outset," Pérez spokesman John Vigna said in explaining the reversal. "It was included as part of a larger budget deal, but seeing the reaction since, we understand Californians care deeply about access to public records."