Update: On May 2nd, Assemblymember Laura Friedman announced that she will not advance the legislation to the Assembly floor in 2019.
U.S. Right to Know opposes AB 700, legislation to weaken the California Public Records Act (CPRA). The legislation, sponsored by California Assemblymember Laura Friedman, would exempt much of the work product of California’s public universities from the CPRA. The CPRA is a crucial tool for journalists and citizens, as well as public interest, consumer, environmental, public health and good government advocates in California and across the country to expose corruption, wrongdoing and abuse of power. We oppose efforts to weaken it, and are concerned that any successful effort to do so could invite others, leading to a slippery slope that could diminish this law in unforeseen ways, at cost to our health, our environment and our democracy.
At California’s public universities, the CPRA is central to efforts to unearth research misconduct and fraud, sexual harassment scandals, financial improprieties and misallocation of funds, government waste, corporate influence in research process, the commercialization of the university, the influence of wealthy donors, and administrative cover-ups of all of the above. If enacted, this legislation will shield such scandals from exposure and accountability, and invite more.
- Los Angeles Times: Scientists have #MeToo issues too. Don’t exempt them from accountability laws. By Charles Seife, April 1, 2019.
- San Diego Union-Tribune: Don’t weaken open records laws at California’s public universities. April 8, 2019.
- Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Don’t keep public research secret from Californians, May 1, 2019.
- Letter of opposition to AB700 from Center for Food Safety, Consumer Watchdog. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Real Food Media, Organic Consumers Association and U.S. Right to Know.
- Letter of opposition to AB 700 from the American Society of News Editors and Associated Press Media Editors, May 2, 2019.
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: Do No Harm, California. Press Pause on Science Secrecy Bill. April 22, 2019.
- USRTK: State public records laws help uncover corruption, wrongdoing at public universities. By Stacy Malkan, April 19, 2019.
- San Diego Society of Professional Journalists: “We rarely ask our members to take public positions on bills, but this one is too dangerous for us to be silent.”
The following organizations are opposing AB700. See letters of opposition by:
- American Civil Liberties Union
- California Newspapers Publishers Association
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Society of Professional Journalists Northern California chapter
- Society of Professional Journalists/Los Angeles chapter
- San Diego Society of Professional Journalists
- Good Food Brigade
- Coalition letter: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Social Compassion in Legislation, Animal Alliance Network, In Defense of Animals, Advancing Law for Animals, Mercy For Animals, New England Anti-Vivisection Society, Progress For Science, Kindred Spirits Care Farm, The Greenbaum Foundation
Articles about AB 700:
- Muckrock: California lawmaker halts transparency bill amidst public outcry. By Jessie Gomez, May 7, 2019.
- Muckrock: Transparency groups oppose new California bill blocking access to research records. By Jessie Gomez, April 23, 2019.
- Undark: A Battle Over California’s Public Records Law. By Zoe Loftus-Farren, April 15, 2019.
- Los Angeles Times: Protesters brave windy conditions to protest Laura Friedman’s bill about animal research, by Anthony Clark Carpio, April 12, 2019.
California Assembly Committee on Judiciary report on AB 700.