OPEN GOVERNMENT, WHISTLEBLOWERS"With the Sunday deadline fast approaching, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed only three of the over 700 bills on his desk," reports the California Newspaper Publishers Association's Legislative Bulletin. "While a bit coy regarding his intentions on the fate of the Legislature’s entire work product from the 2009 session, the threat of a blanket veto may prove an effective lever on the water deal that eluded Schwarzenegger and legislators in the waning days of the legislative session."  On the other hand, the report notes, such a hostage standoff could kill several valuable bills in the open government, free press and whistleblower protection zone that Californians Aware calls public forum law.

  • SB 218 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) would bring the various nonprofit and auxiliary organizations of the University of California, California State University and Community Colleges under the California Public Records Act.  This groundbreaking bill was sponsored by CNPA.
  • SB 219  by Sen. Yee would protect the rights of UC whistleblowers.
  • SB 320 by Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) would enact the anti-Libel Tourism Act to protect California writers from frivolous lawsuits filed in foreign jurisdictions.  CNPA sponsored this bill.
  • SB 359 by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) would amend and update the sections of the California Public Records Act that, in alphabetical order, describe the records that may be exempt under the law.  CNPA sponsored this bill.
  • CNPA is urging the veto of one bill – AB 524 by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) — which would amend the anti-Paparazzi law to allow a new cause of action against publishers for the mere publication of an image captured by a third party in violation of the law.

Two bills sponsored or supported by CNPA – AB 1494 by Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) and SB 786  (Yee) – were signed by Schwarzenegger earlier this year.  AB 1494 amends the serial meeting prohibition in the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting law governing state boards and commissions to be consistent with recent changes to the Ralph M. Brown Act.  SB 786 amends the California Anti-SLAPP Law to prohibit government agencies that successfully use the law from obtaining their attorneys fees and costs.

Another valuable bill that could be lost in the game of chicken is AB 756 by Assemblyman Eng, which would require most state agencies to provide a link on their websites to a centrally located and accessible state-run website that includes a list of the personal services and consulting services contracts, as defined, entered into by the agency. This bill would require the listings on the site to include specified information, and would require, on and after January 1, 2012, a summary of a contract to be initially posted within 15 working days of being signed by all parties.