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Propositions Cover Information, Taxes, Gaming, Hospital Care Second of two parts

October 01, 2004|By Jake Armstrong

Voters will encounter a cornucopia of initiatives on a wide variety of issues this November. Here are descriptions of more of them.

Government information

A constitutional right of public access to government information would be created with the passage of Proposition 56.

The California Constitution generally does not address public access to government information. However, a number of statues-the Ralph M. Brown and California Public Records Acts among them-provide for public access to government meetings and documents.

Proposition 59 would create a constitutional amendment declaring the public's right to scrutinize the meetings of public bodies and writings of public officials and agencies. It would also require that statutes and other types of governmental decisions, even those already in effect, be broadly interpreted to further the public's right to access to government information.

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Some information, such as law enforcement records, is exempted from the measure, which does not directly require any specific information to be made available for the public. Future governmental actions to limit the right to access would have to show the need for such restrictions.

The measure is a way to foster open and responsible government through the public's right to know, proponents claim. Opponents point out that the measure will continue to exempt from disclosure government records deemed "private" by courts and would not apply to all proceedings and records of the Legislature, its members and employees, and committees and caucuses.

Surplus property

Under Proposition 60A, proceeds from sales of surplus state property purchased through the state general fund would be dedicated to principal and interest payments on the bonds voters approved in March as part of Proposition 57. When those bonds of up to $15 billion are repaid, money from surplus property sales would go to a special fund for economic uncertainties.

The state Legislative Analyst's Office estimates the state could potentially save in the low tens of millions of dollars by speeding up payments on existing bonds.

Children's hospitals

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