State agencies would be forced to offer easier access to public documents or face the possibility of court-ordered fines under a bill now on its way to the governor. AB 2927, sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, passed out of the state Legislature this week by unanimous votes. The bill came in response to an independent survey conducted earlier this year that found many state agencies, from the Air Resources Board to the Public Utilities Commission, failed to comply with even the basic guidelines of the California Public Records Act. In some cases, the survey says, agency personnel not only refused to turn over records but made improper demands of those requesting the information. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los Angeles“They were simply terrible,” said Richard McKee, a Pasadena City College professor and president of Californians Aware, the government watchdog group that performed the audit. “When over half the agencies don’t provide you anything you ask for it is simply amazing.” The group surveyed 31 agencies and graded each of them based on how fully they complied with requests for basic government documents. The average grade was F. Californians Aware teamed with Leno to come up with legislation that would put some teeth in the Public Records Act, as it relates to state-level agencies, as well as provide easier access to documents that are inarguably public – such as conflict-of-interest forms. To meet the former goal, AB 2927 would allow a court to impose a $100-a-day fine on agencies that deny or delay the release of documents without legal justification. To ease access to documents, the bill would require agencies to post information online that explains how to obtain those documents. It also has a provision giving members of the public the right to ask the attorney general’s office to intervene when requests are denied. The January audit served as a wake-up call for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ran as an advocate for open government. In the wake of the audit, he ordered all agency employees to undergo specialized training. Schwarzenegger has yet to take a stance on the Leno bill, however. McKee and his group are putting pressure on the governor to sign the bill, saying a second audit conducted in August shows that, while the training has helped, reforms are still needed. Despite warnings that Californians Aware would be returning and asking for the exact same documents, seven of the 31 agencies still failed to comply and received a grade of F. The average was a C+. “You would expect after they were given training and given warning that we were coming back that they would all have earned an A,” McKee said. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2733160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!