H.B. 477: A change of heart?

Utah’s lawmakers are either pulling their collective heads out of the sand or are worried about their political careers…..or both.

Perhaps one of the most controversial pieces of legislature in the 2011 Utah Session was the passage and signing of H.B. 477, which now makes electronic communications of elected officials private.  Hundreds of people from all political persuasions opposed the signing of this bill and even stormed the State Capitol Building on the final evening of the legislative session, demanding that democracy and transparency be upheld by repealing this action.

Genuine and sustainable leadership has been absent in this struggle and our country and state has increasingly witnessed a pendulum type swing from democracy into corporatocracy where policy implemented benefits a select few and HB477 only serves but a select few.  This is easily demonstrated as our Governor has decided to keep prying eyes away from what we all call a HONEST DEMOCRACY.  We found out last year thanks to our open records law which companies our Governor chose to give lucrative state contracts to. Which also lets the public review who the major contributors are, to our Governor and our State Legislators.  By the Governor Herbert signing this bill WE can ALL see who benefits from HB-477.

(Melodia Gutierrez, One Utah post, Where has justice gone and what can we do to retrieve it?)

But now some lawmakers are re-considering the bill and  are even advocating repealing the bill in a special spring session before consideration of any amendments which would occur over the summer.

Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, initially supported the bill because he had at one time been forced to release a personal email.

“After the bill had passed I really dug deep into House Bill 477. I looked at our current law.” He says. “I looked at the laws that are outside of Utah, some of the other states and their open-records laws and I realized how draconian our laws would be with 477 on the books.”

(KCPW blog)

“I’d be supportive of a repeal of (HB)477, and bringing forward a bill that creates a careful balance between the First Amendment right to know and a Fourth Amendment right to privacy.”

(Interview with the Standard Examiner’s Political Buzz Alison Peek)

It is also no secret that Carl Wimmer is considering a run for the new 4th Congressional Seat in Utah.

Four House members from southern Utah, including former House Speaker David Clark, are calling on Gov. Gary Herbert and the Legislature to repeal a bill restricting public access to government records.

“I think we should repeal this. I think it should happen in April,” Clark said Friday in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s very clear to me the best thing right now would be to start over.”

(Salt Lake Tribune)

Clark placed blame on the media, in the article referenced above, for “fanning the flames of controversy to a point that it has damaged public trust in government.”

Well I say, good for the media!

A majority of Utahns want to see the law repealed.

The Deseret News-KSL survey found that 58 percent of those surveyed said they definitely would sign a petition to repeal the law, while another 22 percent said they probably would sign it.Organizers have a little more than a month to collect the 96,372 signatures needed to put the Government Records Access and Management Act on the ballot.  The petition drive has drawn the support of former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Utah tea party organizer David Kirkham, who are usually on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

(Associated Press article posted on The Republic)

It appears obvious that legislators are trying to cover up their actions by insinuating that they did not realize the full intent of the bill and that the public outcry on this issue has rattled their cages of because they were “caught” ramming  a bill through with little insight as to its ramifications.

Thankfully people were watching.  And listening.  And didn’t sit still.  Hopefully this will inspire citizens to be more on their toes with regards to the activities of the Utah Legislature.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

One response to “H.B. 477: A change of heart?

  1. ~~Breaking: Gov calls special session to repeal H.B.477; Citizens organize rally~~
    Governor Herbert has issued a call for special session on Friday at noon to repeal House Bill 477 which makes electronic communications of elected officials closed to the public. Utah Legislature Watch earlier reported on legislators having a change of heart over the bill and efforts were being made to move towards a special session at that point.

    Herbert has stated he wants to see the bill “replaced” with a new GRAMA bill. Citizen watchdogs are sure to be on their toes, monitoring the revisions that come out of this.

    Meanwhile, citizens are organizing a Repeal, Don’t Replace (We like GRAMA just the way she is) Rally on Friday, March 25 · 11:00am – 2:00pm at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda.

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