Now Governor Herbert and the Utah Legislature want to repeal and replace HB477.
Replace it with what you might ask?
Well, that part is a mystery. They are discussing that in a caucus meeting at the Capitol this morning.
A closed-door caucus meeting. You know, to prove that they are all about open Government and stuff.
But, did GRAMA need fixing?
The Governor and Legislators say that HB477 protects citizen's privacy. However, that privacy was already ensured by GRAMA as it was written 20 years ago.
The Governor and Legislators claim that HB477 was needed to protect taxpayer dollars, even though I haven't heard a single dollar amount the state/county/city spends filling GRAMA requests. The fact is, GRAMA already allows government entities to charge for GRAMA requests. It allows them to waive the fees if the information is in the public interest. HB477 would allow the Government to turn a profit.
The Governor and Legislators claim that GRAMA needs updating to bring it up to date with modern technology. However, GRAMA already provides for the digital age. It defines a record as “a book, letter, document, paper, map, plan, photograph, film, card, tape, recording, electronic data, or other documentary material regardless of physical form or characteristics” (italics added for emphasis). — Utah Code 63G-2-103 (22)
The Governor and Legislators claim that HB477 prevents the media from going on fishing expeditions. First, given the media keep catching fish, it's a good thing that they are fishing. The Government needs to quit stocking the pond. Secondly, fishing is a slow and expensiveproposition. GRAMA also prhibitsoverly broad searched. They aren't so much fishing expeditions as they are looking for a fire when you see smoke.
I trust Governor Herbert about as much as he can throw me. I trust most of our Legislators even less. They need to repeal HB477 immediately. And then have an honest, open discussion on the facts of GRAMA. If they can find places that they can fix the law without making Government more secretive, then do it. But don't rush to the finish line without putting your running shoes on.
The people are paying attention. We won't be fooled again.
To learn where you can sign a petition to get HB477 on the ballot, visit the Facebook Page here.