California

State Whistleblower Score

Score: 78/100 points

Rank: 2/51 states

California has one of the most complete state whistleblower laws with broad coverage (20 out of 33 possible points),maximum usability (33 out of 33) and strong remedies (24 out of 33) plus the one bonus point awarded for employee notification of rights. 

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State Public Records Law

California Public Records Act

GOVT. CODE §§ 6250 -6276.48

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Exemptions to Disclosure

    • §6254 states that the following records do not have to be disclosed: Preliminary drafts, notes, or interagency or intra-agency memoranda that are not retained by the public agency in the ordinary course of business, if the public interest in withholding those records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure
    • Geological and geophysical data, plant production data, and similar information relating to utility systems development, or market or crop reports, that are obtained in confidence from any person
    • Records of Native American graves, cemeteries, and sacred places and records of Native American places, features, and objects
    • The working papers of both public bodies at the state and local level
    • All air pollution emission data, including those emission data which constitute trade secrets, are public records. However, data used to calculate emission data are not emission data. Data which constitute trade secrets and which are used to calculate emission data are not public records. In addition, data used to calculate the costs of obtaining emissions offsets are not public records. At the time that an air pollution control district or air quality management district issues a permit to construct to an applicant who is required to obtain offsets pursuant to district rules and regulations,data obtained from the applicant consisting of the year the offset transaction occurred, the amount of offsets purchased, by pollutant, and the total cost, by pollutant, of the offsets purchased is a public record. If an application is denied, the data shall not be a public record.
    • Trade secrets are not public records. “Trade secrets” may include, but are not limited to, any formula, plan, pattern, process, tool, mechanism, compound, procedure, production data, or compilation of information which is not patented, which is known only to certain individuals within a commercial concern who are using it to fabricate, produce, or compound an article of trade or a service having commercial value and which gives its user an opportunity to obtain a business advantage over competitors who do not know or use it;
    • Computer software developed by a public entity is not a public record;
    • Disclosure of records that relate to archaeological site information and reports maintained by, or in the possession of, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the State Historical Resources Commission, the State Lands Commission, the Native American Heritage Commission, another state agency, or a local agency, including the records that the agency obtains through a consultation process between a California Native American tribe and a state or local agency, do not have to be disclosed;
    • Nothing in this chapter requires the disclosure of records that relate to volatile organic compounds or chemical substances information received or compiled by an air pollution control officer pursuant to Section 42303.2 of the Health and Safety Code.
    • California does not have a specific academic freedom exemption in the California Public Records Act. However at least one California Appeals Court, in Humane Soc.of the U.S. v. Superior Ct. of Yolo County., 214 Cal. App. 4th 1233; 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 235, justified exempting documents from public disclosure under the CPRA’s provision that exempts from public disclosure any document where the public interest in nondisclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The Court held that requiring disclosure of the records “would fundamentally impair the academic research process to the detriment of the public that benefits from the studies produced by that research,” and that there was minimal public interest in the disclosure because all of the important information, particularly regarding methodology and results, was already available. The California court added that it was not creating a categorical “academic researcher’s exemption,” but emphasized that the public interest balancing had to be undertaken in every case.

    Access Rights

    • Every person
    • Office hours
    • Must be given suggestions for overcoming bases for denial of access
    • Disclosure of exempt record = waiver of exemption
    • Pretty much any air pollution records and info, except raw emissions data used to calculate such records, which constitutes trade secrets
    • Purpose for access is irrelevant
    • Entitled to response w/in 10 days, unless unusual circumstances call for extension (reasons for extension must then be provided in writing to the requestor)
    • No provision for a charge to view/inspect records
    • Agency has 10 days to decide whether to comply with a request, if additional personnel need to be consulted the 10 day period may be maxed at 14 days

    Destruction of Public Records

    • § 60201 – Legislative body can dispose of records if it determines not at all useful to anyone, and maintains list of all disposed records
    • Can destroy public records pursuant to law

What’s New in California?

California News

Newsom Lets Boeing Keep Groundwater Forever Polluted

New Deal Sets No Timetable for Cleaning Highly Toxic Santa Susana Aquifer

Los Angeles’ Artificial Turf Plan Misguided

PFAS Found in Turf Dangerous for Children

Boeing’s Weak Santa Susana Cleanup Triggers Lawsuit

Sweetheart Deal Negotiated Behind Closed Doors Violates CEQA Mandates

EPA Says Hunters Point Will Never Be Fully Cleaned

EPA Plans to Ignore Prop P Mandate and Its Own Superfund Standards

National Park Air Tour Plans Late and Off-Course

First 2 Overflight Limits OKed; 20 Behind Schedule, Most Lack Eco-Reviews

Opposition Mounts to Newsom-Boeing Sweetheart Deal

Water Board Hearing on Santa Susana Cleanup Axed as Localities Protest

Newsom Muscling Boeing Sweetheart Deal Through

Water Board Chair Replaced by Former Boeing Consultant Before Hearing

More Toxic Runoff From Santa Susana Field Lab

Latest Monitoring Report Underlines Need for Stricter Contamination Curbs

FAA Blows Court Deadlines for Park Air Tour Limits

Overflight Plans for 8 Major National Parks Due This August Not Close

COMMENTARY | Climate Integrity Project Targets False Solutions

PEER is launching a Climate Integrity Project to address bogus offsets, keeping clean energy clean and ...

Boeing Money Preceded Waiver of Pollution Penalties

Water Board Chair Reaped Boeing Cash Before Woolsey Fire Fines Forgiven

Radioactive Buildings Dynamited Near L.A. 

State Permits Santa Susana Demolition Without Controls on Dust Plumes

California May Have Second Most PFAS Sites of Any State

EPA Identifies 120,000 Potential PFAS Sites in U.S. – Far More Than Ever  

Newsom Backs Off Santa Susana Clean-Up Guarantee 

Permanent Pollution OK Is Focus of Closed-Door Negotiation with Boeing  

California Should Ban Pesticides with Forever Chemicals   

Presence of PFAS in Insecticide Magnifies Agricultural Water Pollution Risks 

Cal/OSHA Inspectors AWOL During Pandemic

Growing Backlog of Workplace Complaints; Vacancies Remain Unfilled  

Malibu School Toxic PCB Clean-Up Still a Mess

Students and Teachers Still in Rooms Contaminated Well Above Legal Limits

Treasure Island Superfund Denial Based on Misinformation

High Hazardous Rankings Overlooked on Assumption of Quick Easy Cleanup

Water Rustling from Death Valley Charged

Call for Investigation of Allegedly Illegal Diversion of Park Water for a Mine

Treasure Island Cleanup Bathed in Fog

Navy Won’t Reveal Radiation Standards for “Free Release” of Contaminated Tracts

Navy Won’t Surrender Hunters Point Plans Without a Fight

Lawsuit Seeks Navy Next Steps to Remedy Tetra-Tech Radiation Falsifications

Bernhardt Surrounded by Illegitimate Acting Officials

Confirmation for Appointee Subverting Senate’s Advice and Consent Power

Navy Buries Forever Chemical Contamination in Socal

Lawsuit Seeks Data on PFAS Plumes Under Closed El Toro and Tustin Air Stations

Treasure Island – Another Botched Navy Cleanup in SF Bay

Navy Refused to Review Tetra Tech Work Despite Extensive Hunters Point Fraud

Malibu Schools Want 5 Year Delay in Toxic PCB Cleanup

Students and Teachers Would Remain in Unsafe Classrooms Until 2024 Demolition

Navy Sprinkles Pixie Dust Across Hunters Point

Bizarre Retesting Plan Claims 80% of Contaminated Soil Samples Are Clean

SF-Owned Hunters Point Parcels Soil Testing Falsified

EPA Finds 93% of Soil Samples Unreliable on Parcels Transferred to City in 2015

Hunters Point Radiation Problems Worsen

Navy Says Tetra Tech Building Radiation Survey Data Are Also Bogus

Radiation Problems Multiply For San Francisco’s Hunters Point

Nearly All U.S. Navy Radiation Samples Were Falsified, Fraudulent or Unreliable

Heather Wylie: Kayaking to Save the L.A. River

Heather took part in a demonstration to protect the L.A. River, and footage of her kayaking to prove its ...

Court Finds Toxic Violations in Malibu Schools

Judge Finds that PCBs Exist Throughout the Schools and Must be Cleaned Up

Feds to Probe Delta Tunnel Misuse of Grant Funds

Inspector General to Audit California Water Resources Handling of Federal Aid

Malibu Toxic Schools Case Clears Hurdle for Trial

Court Rejects School District Attempt to End PCB Contamination Lawsuit

Malibu School District Sics Cops on Parents

Vandalism Complaint for Taking PCB-Laden Caulk Samples for Lab Testing

Failed Toxic Cleanup at Malibu Schools

Congressman Ted Lieu Sends EPA Reports of Illegal PCBs

PCBs Removed From Santa Monica Schools but Left in Malibu

Comprehensive Testing and Precautionary Removals Sought but Denied in Malibu

Feds Find Gaping Holes in CAL/OSHA Safety Net

Serious Enforcement and Inspection Failures Put California Workers at Risk

BLM Judge Greenlights Malibu School PCB Lawsuit

District Spending Tops $6 Million in Steps to Avoid Complete Cleanup

Settlement Limits Off-Road Vehicle Routes for Inyo County’s Adventure Trails

The Center for Biological Diversity, PEER and Inyo County today settled a lawsuit on the so-called “Adventure ...

School District’s Own Tests Show Shocking PCB Levels

Highly Toxic Classrooms Still Occupied with No Abatement Date Slated

Federal Lawsuit to Force Toxic Cleanup of Malibu Schools

Immediate Removal of PCBs above Legal Limits and School-Wide Testing Sought

Lawsuit Filed on Inyo County’s Adventure Trails

Ill-conceived Plan Would Turn Owens Valley Into Noisy, Polluted ORV Playground

Federal Funds for Drought-Stricken Fish Siphoned by Irrigators

Klamath Contracts Worsen Drought Conditions by Pumping More Groundwater

Malibu Schools Spending Millions to Avoid Toxic Cleanup

Billings by Lawyers and Consultants Exceed What a Full Cleanup Would Cost

New Malibu Tests Show Alarming Classroom Contamination

Severe Health Risk from Most Toxic Form of PCBs in Stratospheric Concentrations

Malibu Schools Will Remove Known PCBs but Won’t Test for Them

Will School Act on Independent EPA-Lab Tests with Ultra-High Illegal PCB Levels?

District Attorney Called on New PCB Findings in Malibu Schools

School District Threatens Fearful Children with Truancy, Teachers with Termination

Federal Audit Slams Cal/OSHA Performance

California Below National Average in Several Key Worker Health & Safety Measures

Malibu Parents and Teachers Prep Lawsuit to Force Cleanup

Notice to Sue Filed Against District and EPA for Toxic Substances Control Act Violations

Malibu Teachers Face Firing for Balking at Toxic Classrooms

School Officials Threaten Parents With Arrest If They Protest on First Day of School

Malibu Schools Highly Contaminated With Toxic PCBs

Classroom Levels Highest in the Nation; Independent New Tests Show Need for Broader, More Aggressive Remediation Plan

Why U.S. Is Not Embracing Inherently Safer Chemical Plants

Chevron Richmond Refinery Explosion Ignored in GOP Red Herring Oversight

Malibu Teachers Reject Schools PCB Cleanup Plan

Illegal Levels of PCBs to Remain in Classrooms; No Soil Testing on Campuses

Lawsuit Launched Over BLM’s Failure to Report Threats to Desert Tortoise, Other Imperiled Species in California Deserts

FOR RELEASE: April 1, 2014 Media Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337 SAN FRANCISCO— Environmental groups ...

Malibu Schools to Test Campus Soils for Toxics

Parents and Teachers Urge Comprehensive and Transparent Assessment

Malibu School Contamination May Stem From WWII Uses

Artillery Depot, Training Base and Motor Pool Occupied Present Day Campuses

California Worker Safety Net Badly Frayed

State Failing Federal Enforcement Standards; Fewer Inspectors than 25 Years Ago

Malibu Teachers Refuse Return to Toxic Classrooms

No Confidence in Scope or Effectiveness of District’s Clean-Up Plans

Malibu Teachers Protest District’s Toxic Plans

Focus, Completeness and Transparency of Testing and Clean-Up Faulted

Tahoe National Forest Wins Court Protections

Court Rules to Restrict Motorized Off-Road Vehicles

Malibu Teachers Demand Broader Toxic Testing at School

Scope and Source of Contamination Still Unknown as District Tries Damage Control

Agreement Paves Way for Eldorado Forest Trail Designations

Compromise Reopens Some Trails, Closes Some and Requires Restoration for Others

Big Rollback of California Desert Protection

BLM to Open 49,300 Acres of Algodones Dunes Plan to Off-Road Vehicles

Court Orders Tighter Off-Road Plan for Stanislaus Forest

Forest Service Must Minimize Environmental Damage by Unauthorized Travel

Reward Fund Grows for Capture of Petroglyph Vandals

Criminal Conviction Seen as Key Deterrent for Future Artifact Destruction

RUBICON TRAIL DEAL WILL PROTECT WATER QUALITY

Settlement Involves Closures to Prevent Run-Off

Lawsuit Filed Challenging Plan to Allow ORVs on Inyo County Roads

Lawsuit Filed Challenging Plan to Allow ORVs on Inyo County Roads Independence, Calif. — The Center for ...

Lawsuit to Close Loopholes in California Greenhouse Gas Law

Reliance on Offsets Destroys Integrity and Undermines Climate Protection

Peer Review Supports Park Service Science on Drakes Estero

Independent Analysis Strengthens Case for Wilderness over Commercial Use

Court Lets Park Service Drop Desert Tortoise Protections

Park Service Wins Legal Victory at Mojave of Which It Should Be Ashamed

Park Service Scientists at Point Reyes Vindicated yet Again

Marine Mammal Commission Confirms Shellfish Operation Effect on Seals

Off-Roaders Seek Takeover of California Parks

Henry Coe and Red Rock Canyon State Parks Targeted in Financial Crisis Gambit

California Parks on Closure List Trigger Federal Payback

Nearly 1 in 5 Parks Set for Shutdown Used Fed Dollars with Promise to Keep Open

Park Service Scientists Cleared Again in PT. Reyes Oyster Flap

Repeated Investigations Aimed at Keeping Commercial Oyster Operation in Estuary

Court Orders Redo of Federal ORV Plan for Millions of Acres in California’s West Mojave Desert

Court Orders Redo of Federal ORV Plan for Millions of Acres in California's West Mojave Desert San Francisco — A ...

Federal Cougar Hunters Must Obey California Law

Fish & Game Contractors Cannot Evade Ban on Leg Snares and Other Inhumane Practices

Park Service Reneges on Mojave Desert Tortoise Safeguard

Director Jarvis Waives National Management Policy Requiring Hunting Rules

Bid to Carve Tribal Park out of Redwood National Park

Yurok Tribe Push Legislation to Take Over Scenic Park, Forest & Sanctuary Lands

California Drops Park Hunting Plan, for Now

Conservation Groups Seek Increased Protection for Tolowa Dunes State Park

Lawsuit to Protect Varmints in Mojave National Preserve

Park Service Shirks Duty to Regulate Hunts to Shield Tortoise & Non-Game Wildlife

U.S. Forest Service Must Clean up ORV Water Pollution

California State Water Board Declines Review of Rubicon Abatement Order

California Sheathes Probe Into Employee Personal Activities

Inquiry’s Scope Significantly Narrowed with Apology for “Any Misunderstandings”

California State Workers Probed on Personal Activities

Cal-OSHA Employees Ordered to Disclose All Outside “Presentations” and Materials

Off-Roading Ends Until California Park Cleans up Its Act

Clean Water Victory at Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area

California OHV Dollars Can Fund Non-Motorized Recreation

Legal Opinion May Open New Support Base for Floundering State Parks

Secret California Park Give-Away

Back Door Proposal to Transfer Lands from Tolowa Dunes State Park

California to Set First Hex Chromium Drinking Water Level

Public Health Advocates Urge Adoption of Safe Standard Found by Science Agency

Mojave Off-Road Plan Struck Down in Federal Court

BLM Told to Redesign Bush-Era ORV Plan for Mojave Desert Federal Lands

State ORV Park Violating California Water Quality Law

State ORV Park Violating California Water Quality Law Tracy — Despite budget cuts that threaten other State ...

Water Pollution Lawsuit Against California State ORV Park

Creek Ruined by Off-Road Abuse in Carnegie Recreation Area

CALIFORNIA FINDS CLOSING PARKS NOT SO EASY

Liabilities, Lawsuits and Losses Threaten to Swallow Savings from Park Shutdowns

Reward Offered for OHV Vandals Who Trashed Meadow

Reward Offered for OHV Vandals Who Trashed Meadow Sacramento — Conservationists are offering a reward for ...

Fuel Tax Surplus Could Save California State Parks

Funds Earmarked for Off-Road Recreation Which Generates Only 1/6th of Revenue

Commercial Aquaculture in Wilderness Pushed by Key Senator

Point Reyes National Seashore Oyster Farm Dispute Opens Legal Can of Worms

Regional Water Board Orders Clean-Up of Rubicon Trail

Iconic Off-Road Trail Has Lost Its Way

Deadly Domestic Sheep Disease Threatens Endangered Sierra Nevada Bighorn

Feds Threatened With Legal Action to Close Grazing Allotments, Remedy Endangered Species Act Violations

Constitutional Clash Over Defunct Land Exchange

Major Religious Establishment Case Rooted in Mojave Cross Deal

California Desert Wins New Protection via Feinstein Amendment

Lion’s Share of CDCA Included in Landscape Conservation System by Omnibus Bill

Army Corps Kayaker Case Settled

Biologist Who Demonstrated for the L.A. River Paddles off to Law School

California Desert’s Six Million Acre Question Mark

Bill Establishing Landscape Conservation System Fudges on CDCA Inclusion
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