This is from a April 2012 blog post. Since the local liberal news paper seems to be bringing this up again, I thought I would repost the blog post here:
For years after the DesNews v SLCo decision and others, the Utah Legislature tried to fix the problems with Grama. They had a committee meet for 2 years and then those recommendations were scrapped.
This time, after 2011 HB 477 was passed, a group finally met last summer and did something, and this year we passed 2012 SB 177 Government Records Access and Management Act Amendments with no members of the senate or house (republican or democrats) voting against it the bill. It was signed by the Governor.
It doesn’t solve everything, but it did solve many things. It took 4 years after the court ruling.
What I strongly disagree with, and is obvious from the articles I link below, is there was never any intent from the legislature to keep government records secret. The intent was to protect constituent 4th amendment rights.
You can disagree with a law or vote, but don’t assume you can read someone’s mind as to their motivation. For further explanation, see below:
Why was 2011 HB 477 (Government Records Amendments) repealed?
Why was 2011 HB 477 created in the first place?
What did the bill do, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Research and General Counsel:
(Note: this document was originally made public by Rep. Fred C. Cox)
When did the bill come out and when was it first voted on:
March 1, 2011 it was made public, online and 24 hr. notification of public committee meeting, Public committee meeting March 2, 2011 (2 hrs) complete with media testifying against, providing no meaningful suggestions for changes, but providing TV coverage. Committee vote 10 to 0 (bipartisan). March 10th was the last day of session
For the rest of the votes and timeline see:
Why did Rep. Cox vote for the bill, and then voted to repeal it?
The bill helped solve one of the biggest questions, should we keep emails from constituents, that often describe their personal family situations, private, so as to not show up in the media? Should the part time legislature have the business emails from their business associates using business email systems be subject to Grama?
I had the bill for the same 24 hrs. prior to committee, the public had, asking media and others for any amendments to the bill. No modifications or answers were suggested, only to kill the bill, leaving the situation as it is. With that choice, and the above information, the committee, myself included, democrats and republicans, all voted for the bill.
The same happened on the floor of the house, with almost all voting for it. Because of the media storm, some then decided to make this a partisan issue, even though the problem with the current law interpretation, (Utah Supreme Court decision) in all appearance, had been caused by a republican trying to make the Salt Lake County democrats look bad with a lawsuit involving the Deseret News and the County. The vote on the floor of the house started to see many democrats voting against the bill.
The Governor then decided he wanted to delay implementation. That required that we pull the bill back, amend it, and vote on it again. At this point, several others voted against the bill, allowing the voting to fall below 2/3 of both houses.
Eventually, the media and others agreed to be on a public committee to study the problems over the summer, and the bill was then repealed. A new Grama consensus amendment bill was passed this year.
Public working group recommendations:
Additional motivations for changes:
How long has Rep. Cox’s committee and roll call votes been online?
Almost immediately afterwards on the state website
How long has Rep. Cox’s combined 2011 Session voting record been online?
March 17, 2011
For redistricting, who voted to keep the House GOP Caucus open and sponsored a bipartisan (democrat senator co-sponsor) congressional map?
Rep. Fred Cox
Note, during the 2012 General Session, the House GOP did not vote to close it’s caucus meetings. they were open, and often attended by reporters and others interested.