California has thousands of local government bodies throughout the state. They can be a governing body for a large metropolis, such as Los Angeles, a small school district like Centinela Valley School District, or specialty districts such as the South Santa Clara Fire Protection District. What these local governing bodies have in common is that they must fully disclose to the public the decisions that are made for the area they govern.
Proposition 42, the California Compliance of Local Agencies with Public Act, is on the June 3 ballot as an amendment to the state constitution. It requires that all local governing bodies be responsible for all expenses required to maintain these compliances. In the past, the state has reimbursed each local governing body for the expenses needed to comply with these acts. Statistics from the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) show these expenses can vary widely from small, $1,021, filed by Santa Ana with a population of 235,000 to large amounts, $52,441 filed by Anaheim with a population of 244,000, even though each city has roughly the same population. Los Angeles, with a population of 3,046,969, claimed a cost of $104,026 for state reimbursement.
The proposition also makes the Compliance Act part of the state’s constitution which will require all local governing bodies to consistently comply with the existing Ralph M. Brown Act., for local governing agencies to provide public notice of agenda items and hold meetings in an open forum. Additionally, the California Public Records Act (CPRA), which allows every person to inspect and obtain copies of state and local government documents, requires state agencies and local governments to have written guidelines for public access to documents and to have the guidelines posted at the respective offices. In the past during fiscally challenging times, these acts have been suspended or ignored.
The financial impact from this measure would amount to a savings at the state level as local governments would be required to cover their own costs for compliance. The Legislative Analyst’s Office believes the state could save tens of millions a year to the state, because the cost would have to be taken on by local governments.
There have not been any objections filed by any formal group against the proposition, however some have voiced concern that local governments could be strained by the cost of complying with this proposition.