Monday, March 7, 2011

Utah Legislators Cruel to Their 'GRAMA'

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 01:  Utah Governor Gary...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeUtah's media outlets are up in the arms after the state's legislature rushed through H.B. 477, which, if signed into law by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, amends the Government Records Access and Management Act ("GRAMA") [Utah Code Title 63G, Chapter 2] by restricting public access to government records and boosting the reproduction cost of official documents.

According to stories in The Salt Lake Tribune and The Herald Journal, the Senate voted 21-7 last Friday to pass the measure, one day after the House voted 61-12 to enact the 75-page bill. If Gov. Herbert adopts H.B. 477, it will take effect immediately, rather than the more common 60 days after a law is signed. Among its provisions, H.B. 477 excludes electronic messaging, including voice mails and text messages, hikes the fee for members of the press and public to obtain copies of government records, and shields most communications between legislators and their staff members.

Proponents of the measure raced the bill through the legislature to head off a surge in open records requests from the press before the bill took effect. Backers of the bill have complained that the news media was using GRAMA to embarrass lawmakers.

Gov. Herbert has promised carefully to consider the measure before deciding whether to sign it

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