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Ballot Initiative Would Overhaul Open Records Laws to Provide Greater Government Transparency & Accountability, says Consumer Watchdog

70% of CA Voters Approve of the Measure According to a Recent Poll

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Embracing the principle that "sunshine is the best disinfectant," a new ballot initiative would overhaul California's open records laws to combat government corruption and protect the health and well-being of Californians, according to Consumer Watchdog.

Download the initiative here.

The initiative, filed with the Attorney General today, would strengthen California's Public Records Act and the Legislative Open Records Act to make state government agencies more responsive to public requests for government documents and increase state legislators' public reporting of meetings with lobbyists and investigations into their misconduct.

The initiative received 70% approval in a statewide poll, a virtually unheard-of level of voter approval according to leading pollsters.

Download the summary of the poll results here.

"The poll results demonstrate that voters are aligned in the belief that the public should have greater access to government documents to ensure effective oversight of public officials regardless of their political or ideological leanings, gender, or age," said Paul Maslin of FM3 Research, a major statewide opinion research and strategy company that conducted the poll. "It is extremely rare in our experience, particularly in the recent polarized environment, to see such broad support as this for a measure across partisan and ideological lines."

The initiative was developed by Consumer Watchdog along with leading Public Records Act litigator Kelly Aviles of Californians Aware and a working group of open government experts.

"The California Public Records Act and the Legislative Open Records Act reflect the principle enshrined in our state constitution that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental right to every person in the state. However, those laws and principles have been abused or weakened by legislators and government officials," said Jerry Flanagan, Litigation Director for Consumer Watchdog and author of the initiative. "Failures in government transparency can be hazardous to our health and to the health of our democracy. The Government Transparency Act is necessary to protect and expand the public's right to an open and accountable government."

Some of the many abuses and loopholes the initiative addresses include:

The major provisions of the initiative include:

Requiring public agencies to publish annual reports that provide information about delays in access to public records.

The initiative was submitted today to the California Attorney General's office for preparation of the title and summary. Once qualified for the ballot, the measure will appear on the November 2024 ballot.

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

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