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Assembly Bill 1158 (Kuykendall-1995)

Chapter 732, Statutes of 1995

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A description of Assembly Bill 1158 is provided in a letter from the author to Governor Wilson requesting his approval of the legislation, stating, in part:

The bill, sponsored by the California Trade and Commerce Agency, will create a new exemption under the Public Records Act to ensure the confidentiality of incentives offered by the State of California and proprietary information volunteered to a state entity during a retention, expansion, or relocation effort.
(See Exhibit #12, document PE-1)

Background on the legislation, including the need for the bill, is addressed in the Concurrence in Senate Amendments analysis of Assembly Bill 1158 as last amended on August 28, 1995:

According to the author, when the California Trade and Commerce Agency (Agency) assists a company wishing to expand or locate within California, there is no specific exemption from the Act for the confidential materials obtained from these companies or generated by the Agency.

When a company provides information to the Agency, it is with the understanding that the information will not be disclosed. While Agency personnel are precluded by internal procedures from releasing this information, the authority to withhold all of this information as an exemption to the Act is somewhat unclear. Only when the information requested is not publicly known, or if the information is a trade secret, can the Agency withhold it as part of a Public Records Request.

Recent court cases have upheld the idea that the Act is to be very broadly construed and that items not specifically exempted must be released in a timely manner. According to the Agency, if it is ever forced by a court to release any portion of sensitive, confidential information, it will have “a devastating impact on the retention/expansion efforts of the Agency.”

This bill allows information to be fully disclosed to the tax-paying public on matters such as “state incentives” that, directly or indirectly, taxpayers will be subsidizing. Such information would be available during and upon finalization of the negotiating process. The intent of this measure is to protect “sensitive” (proprietary, trade secret, financial, siting) information of the company receiving state assistance.
(See Exhibit #10, page 1)

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