Governor Brown has signed SB 1300, the refinery regulation bill that FAC and others opposed because of last-minute amendments that would weaken rights of access under the Public Records Act. However, the Governor, in a signing message, made clear he wants the Legislature to pass a new bill to fix those amendments.
The Governor said that Senator Lonie Hancock, the author of SB 1300, “has committed to introduce clean up legislation next year and work with stakeholders to clarify the public disclosure process to ensure that this law does not authorize petroleum refineries to collect attorney’s fees from individuals or organizations seeking those records.”
Hancock, in a letter to Jerry Brown, acknowledged the need for “additional language” to “avoid any misinterpretation” and said it is her “intent to introduce legislation next session” to do that.
The problematic amendments to SB 1300 limit access rights in several ways. In addition to putting requesters at risk of having to pay oil companies’ attorney’s fees, SB 1300, as signed by the Governor, would:
1) Empower oil companies, when filing reports with state agencies, to designate information as “trade secrets”—which are exempt from release under the PRA—even if the information does not meet the legal definition of a trade secret;
2) Subject PRA requesters to being hauled into court in lawsuits filed by oil companies to block disclosure of records.
The Governor’s action on SB 1300 followed protests from FAC, CNPA and many news organizations. FAC’s letter to the Governor urged veto of the bill, but also proposed, as an alternative, that the Governor sign the bill and simultaneously issue a message strongly urging the Legislature to address the access issues in the next session. And that essentially is what the Governor has done.–PS
Other Posts on SB 1300: