Assembly Passes Gloria Bill Setting Two-Year Standard for Public Agencies’ E-Mail Record Retention

Thursday, May 23, 2019

State Bill Mandating Public Agencies Retain E-Mails for Two Years Clears Assembly, Heads to Senate

SACRAMENTO, CA – California State Asssemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) successfully advanced open government and transparency legislation today that mandates public agencies in California retain e-mail records for at least two years. Assembly Bill 1184 (AB 1184) was approved by the State Assembly today by a vote of 48 to four and now heads to the State Senate.

The public has a right to access e-mails and documents pertaining to the public’s business. Currently, local governments and public agencies across California have radically different e-mail retention policies. This bill will set a sensible and clear two-year e-mail retention standard statewide,” said Assemblymember Gloria. “Open government is good government. I’m proud to author this legislation to make government more transparent and accountable to the public.”

AB 1184 was inspired by investigative reporting by the Voice of San Diego. In March 2018, Voice of San Diego detailed how local governments in San Diego County delete e-mail records under the two-year legal requirement provided by the California Public Records Act. The local governments in question cited current law is ambiguous when it comes to electronic records and e-mails. Most recently, Voice of San Diego shed light on the City of Encinitas’ e-mail record retention policy, which gives city officials the authority to delete e-mails after 30 days.

AB 1184 would clarify that e-mails are subject to retention standards as provided under the California Public Records Act, thereby making clear the two-year e-mail record retention standard statewide.

AB 1184 is supported by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the First Amendment Coalition, the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the California Immigrant Policy Center.

AB 1184 is expected to be heard in the relevant Senate committees in the coming weeks.