Today's Law As Amended


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AB-2607 Department of Fish and Wildlife: Office of the Ombudsperson.(2019-2020)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.

 Section 701.7 is added to the Fish and Game Code, to read:

701.7.
 (a) There is in the department the Office of the Ombudsperson administered through the ombudsperson. The commission shall appoint the ombudsperson. The Office of the Ombudsperson shall operate independently of department staff and shall report to the president of the commission. The Office of the Ombudsperson shall perform the following duties, subject to the supervision of the president of the commission:
(1) Work independently as an intermediary to provide individuals with a confidential process to address complaints with the department and resolve disputes with the department.
(2) Act as an unbiased party during disputes. The Office of the Ombudsperson may investigate a complaint regarding the department and may make a recommendation to the commission regarding the complaint.
(3) Help to clarify permit requirements and resolve regulatory conflicts.
(4) Propose policy and procedural changes when the office identifies systemic issues in need of reform.
(b) Notwithstanding any other law, information provided to the ombudsman as part of a complaint pursuant to this section shall be protected as confidential and shall be exempt from public disclosure, including, but not limited to, disclosure pursuant to Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code.
SEC. 2.
 The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of this act, which adds Section 701.7 to the Fish and Game Code, imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies within the meaning of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional provision, the Legislature makes the following findings to demonstrate the interest protected by this limitation and the need for protecting that interest:
The need for the Office of the Ombudsperson, as created by this bill, in the Department of Fish and Wildlife to fully examine complaints with the Department of Fish and Wildlife outweighs the interest in public disclosure of information obtained by the Office of the Ombudsperson in connection with its activities.