San Jose Spotlight: San Jose lawsuit sparks legislation to bolster government transparency

From Stockton to Anaheim and San Jose, government officials across California use personal email accounts and texts to do the public’s business—and those messages often never see the light of day because public agencies can’t access them.

Now, a San Jose legislator is working to change that.

State Sen. Dave Cortese on Monday introduced a bill that would require public officials to forward communications on personal accounts and devices that deal with public business to an official channel. If approved, it would ensure there’s a record of those messages that can be accessed and publicly released when requested. It was inspired by San José Spotlight’s recent successful public records lawsuit against the city and its former mayor.

Senate Bill 908 applies to local and state appointed and elected officials, as well as public sector employees. Officials would have 20 days to forward the communications to a government account or server.

“I authored this bill because I know we can do better in providing the transparency and integrity in our democracy that our constituents and taxpayers deserve,” Cortese told San José Spotlight. “Our children, grandchildren and future generations will benefit from our efforts.”

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