Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014 – 10:53 pm

The Legislature was in full sausage-factory mode during the last days of the biennial session that ended on Aug. 30, spewing hundreds of bills onto Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

In time-dishonored fashion, many of the bills were either newly minted or underwent last-minute changes and therefore received only cursory attention. Buried in them were some fairly significant changes of public policy.

These three measures typify the syndrome:

Senate Bill 1300 by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, is aimed at improving refinery safety in the wake of a disastrous fire at Chevron’s Richmond refinery in 2012.

It would require refineries to annually report to the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health scheduled “turnarounds” – operational shutdowns for maintenance and repair – and other data bearing on safety.

However, it not only would treat the data as trade secrets and bar public disclosure – questionable unto itself – but would require OSHA to tell refineries if anyone requests the data and allow refiners to then seek court orders against the requester.

Open records and free speech advocates are up in arms, as they should be, about this chilling legislative decree.

Senate Bill 628 by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, surfaced just four days before adjournment.

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