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Assembly speaker orders examination of legislative records laws

August 15, 2011 |  1:52 pm

Assembly Speaker John Perez, in the face of a battle with a member of his own caucus and a lawsuits from the Los Angeles Times and others, has ordered a full-scale examination of the legislature's open-records laws.

In a letter to assembly members released Monday, Perez said Rules Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) would lead the study of the current rules and suggest changes to be adopted next year. “I believe that updating our policies to reflect the 21st century world we live in is a vital step ... ," Perez said in the statement. "How taxpayer dollars are expended is public information, and it is our job to ensure that the public has access to it."

But members of his own caucus have alleged that Perez has obfuscated Assembly budgets and refused to make certain information public. Perez and fellow Assembly Democrat Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge) have clashed publicly over the issue.

The Assembly Rules committee has refused to release detailed information about lawmakers' budgets, prompting a lawsuit from The Times and other newspapers.

Also Monday, Portantino introduced a proposed change to Assembly that would require greater transparency about internal spending. A majority of Assembly members would have to approve the change before it could take effect.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento