UPDATE: Apparently This PASSED ANYWAY.

The most dangerous time to be in Utah is during the 45 days that the Utah Legislature is in session.  While there have been plenty of completely asinine laws considered, the crème del a crème is House Bill 477.  The bill would make wide-ranging changes to the Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA).  The Utah Legislature is trying to pass a bill blocking public access to many government records

GRAMA as it is known is the publics’ right to access government records.  It is the guiding document that allows everyone and anyone access to the documents that our government has created.  The Utah Legislature would like to limit the public’s right to  access to their computer documents, email, text messages and phone conversations.

For some reason the Utah Legislature has become increasingly paranoid about the media digging up the truth about the idiots in our government.  The Legislature is trying to fast track HB477 to avoid public scrutiny of the Bill.

With the proposed changes, any member of the public could be forced to pay attorney fees of $200 an hour or more to have a request for information reviewed. The legislatures thinly veiled excuse is that it costs too money in time and effort to provide the public and the media documentation.

"We want to do it today. It will complicate matters if it has a weekend to fester." -Senate President Michael Waddoups

Waddoups also said that he did not want senators subjected to pressure from the bill’s opponents over the next two days.

What the Hell?  Waddoups and his co-criminals want this to go through quickly and easily and without any fuss from the public or the media.

If it was good legislation it will still be good next week.  Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark.  I suspect that there must be more juicy tidbits that have yet to be exposed.  Think of some of the past Tom Foolery like DUI’s, Election Fraud etc that has happened in the last few elections.

KSL News is reporting:

The committee vote came after public comments opposing the bill. Linda Petersen of the Utah Foundation for Government said GRAMA is a citizens access law and not a news media law.

While lawmakers said the changes were motivated by news media overwhelming staff with requests, Petersen said there’s a way to deal with request without “knifing GRAMA.”

But Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, said the bill would merely inconvenience the media and called the anticipated impact of the bill “hyperbole.”

Capitol sources said the bill is almost certain to pass by a big margin. It passed the House 61-12 on Thursday after a brief debate in which legislators accused the media of abusing GRAMA to try to “dig up dirt” on lawmakers.

For some reason our elected officials have forgotten they work for the public and its the media’s duty and obligation to find problems with our officials.

For some reason my Senator thinks that this bill is a mere inconvenience to the media. WTF? What about me John Q. Public?

This turd shouldn’t be passed.  It has awakened my interest in politics again.

How bad is this Bill?

Jeff Hunt, an attorney for the Utah Media Coalition, said the bill would be the first in the country to his knowledge to ban all text messages, regardless of their content. He said the proposed changes would take GRAMA from being one of the best open-records laws in the country to one of the worst.  Source: KSL News

Senate President Michael Waddoups  also dropped this bomb: “Nobody likes to do this in an election year. So now is the time.”

In a poll done Thursday for the Deseret News and KSL, over 90 percent of respondents said restricting government records would hurt the public’s ability to monitor the legislative process, and 67 percent said there should be more discussion before changes are made. Source: KSL News

Anytime an elected official says we should do something because it isn’t an election year it means that its horrible legislation.  And apparently Michael Waddoups thinks that Utahans have a short memory. Anyone who votes for this should be booted from office ASAP.

In anger I wrote my Senator the following:

Dear Senator Madsen,

Have you lost your mind?  I can’t believe that you think that HB477 is a good idea.  To the voting public, IE: me, it looks like my representation is trying to hide from the truth.  We need more transparency in government not less. As a voter in your district I am strongly recommending that you reconsider your position on this bill.

Sincerely

Eran Bair

Lehi, UT

PS I am a registered voter.

If this letter doesn’t work I will begin to bombard the Governor’s office  trying to get a Veto.

What a bunch of sneaky bastards?

Update: It was unveiled on Wednesday and Passed by Friday. Source: ABC News 4

What Others are Saying…

Dusk comes suddenly for Utah’s sunshine law

Bill to shield more records from public clears Senate

Senate passes bill blocking public access to many government records

Keep Government Transparent and Accountable – Vote No On H.B. 477 I hate to include this one but every once in a millennium the ACLU is right

FOI, FYI: A dark day for Utah Freedom of Information (Elected Official Accountability)

Utah Lawmakers Want To Keep Secrets From The Media And The Public

ABC 4 confronts Governor Herbert about plans to keep state records hidden from public

New GRAMA bill much more than restricting electronic access to information

Utah Just Made Government Across the U.S. a Little More Closed