LORA and How to Examine California Legislative Records

Dan Walters had a commentary column on CALmatters earlier this week about the California Legislature and the Legislative Open Records Act that governs what the Legislature can and cannot choose to release to members of the public. Today’s podcast examines the Legislative Open Records Act, or LORA.

Pursuant to LORA, record requests by members of the public must be made in writing and be submitted to either the Senate Committee on the Rules or the Assembly Rules Committee, depending on the location of the documents being requested.

Generally, the respective rules committee will respond within 3-10 days upon receiving written requests for legislative records. If a request is denied, the individual who made the request is entitled to a written explanation of that denial.

Another general rule is that the records may not be removed from the office space that is designated for records inspection, and must be inspected in the presence of a designated staff member from the Legislature. The public can request copies of legislative records.

LORA does list categories of legislative records that are exempt from public inspection. A not-exhaustive list of some of those categories includes:

  • Records pertaining to certain claims against the Legislature until they’re finally adjudicated or settled, and records pertaining to litigation to which the Legislature is a party, until such litigation has been finally adjudicated or settled;
  • Records of complaints to the Legislature, its investigations, and its security procedures;
  • Correspondence of members and their staff;
  • Written commentary submitted to a Committee on legislation that was not utilized by the staff; and
  • Other records determined by the Committee to be confidential and records where, based on the facts of the particular case, the Joint Rules Committee believes that the public interested served by not disclosing the records outweighs the public interest served by disclosing the records.

I explore other components of LORA in more depth in the brief podcast, so be sure to listen.

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