A bill that would allow public pension systems run by California counties to meet in closed session to discuss amendments to private equity deals and changes to partnership agreements is awaiting action by California Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown.
The legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, a Democrat, and pushed by the Los Angeles County Employees' Retirement Association, Pasadena, was approved by state lawmakers on Aug. 30.
“The governor has not taken a position on this bill and generally, we do not comment on pending legislation,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Mr. Brown, in an e-mail. California state law requires the governor to take action within 30 days of receiving legislation.
The legislation would give county pension funds the same protection afforded the $260.9 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, the $170 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, and the University of California. The pension funds were given a similar exemption in 2006, said Ben Turner, Mr. Mullin's legislative director.
The bill is a watered-down version of legislation introduced in February that would have shielded pension funds from providing detailed information about their real estate investments.
Mr. Turner said the LACERA wanted detailed information about hotels it owns to be protected for competitive reasons. But Mr. Turner said the California Newspaper Publishers Association and First Amendment Coalition both objected to exempting real estate records. Mr. Turner said the provision was taken out of the bill because California courts have upheld that real estate records are subject to public disclosure and are not afforded the same protections as private equity deals.
Mr. Turner said a 2010 California Superior Court case pitted the First Amendment Coalition against CalPERS' refusal to release documents on a doomed real estate investment in East Palo Alto, Calif.
Taking out the real estate provisions had removed the most onerous provision of the bill, said Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, in an interview. Mr. Scheer said the original bill would have conflicted with court decisions in favor of disclosure.