A bill approved in the state Senate would ban private companies who contract with the government from using confidentiality agreements to keep their dealings secret.
The bill by Democratic Senator Leland Yee responds to a California Public Records Act request filed last year by the San Francisco Chronicle. The newspaper was seeking information from the University of California.
Yee says the UC's San Francisco campus would not release an independent financial review or name the firm that was paid $165,000 to conduct the audit. University officials say the private firm controlled the audit's release.
The Senate voted 33-1 on Monday to require the records' release regardless of such contract clauses. The bill applies to both local and state governments.
Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman, a Republican from Tustin, was the lone dissenting vote.
The bill now goes to the state Assembly.