SPJ San Diego has been tracking a bill in the state legislature that we believe would undermine the California Public Records Act. AB 700 (Friedman) would create a new exemption for certain records created by employees of community colleges and public universities, and their affiliated labs and medical facilities.
You can read more about our position in this letter we sent to the offices of three key Assembly members (Gonzalez, Maienschein and Friedman). In short: Journalists have used the CPRA to uncover wrongdoing at public universities, and this bill would take away a vital tool for investigating such stories in the future.
We rarely ask our members to take public positions on bills, but this one is too dangerous for us to be silent. Please consider calling or emailing your Assembly member, and/or the three Assembly members we have contacted, to ask that the bill be amended or pulled from consideration. Be sure to reference AB 700 (Friedman). Suggested talking points:
Journalists would have never been able to uncover wrongdoing at public universities if this bill had been law.
The state legislature should be focused on strengthening the CPRA and expanding access to public records. This bill would do the opposite.
The bill’s supporters say it would curb CPRA abuses to discredit researchers, but they’ve failed to give examples of that actually happening.
Legislative staff to contact:
Evan.McLaughlin@asm.ca.gov, chief of staff for Lorena Gonzalez
Lance.Witmondt@asm.ca.gov, chief of staff for Brian Maienschein
Allison.RuffSchuurman@asm.ca.gov, chief of staff for Laura Friedman
Or find your own Assembly member and contact them!