In a move hailed by open government advocates and press organizations statewide the Utah Legislature repealed HB477. This bill, passed at the close of the previous legislative session, would have reduced the ability for the public to gain access to government records under the Government Records Access and Management Act. GRAMA is the primary legislation used by individuals and organizations to obtain information about government actions. Press organizations routinely use the provisions of GRAMA to obtain information on government expenditures, government employee salaries, legislative decisions, criminal investigations, and other government activities. The changes contained in HB 477 would have reduced access to government records in an unprecedented fashion. Governor Herbert responded to the action of the legislature by saying, I am very pleased the Legislature has responded to the will of the people by repealing HB 477. It was the right thing to do as a first step to restore public confidence. As the Legislature’s working group re-examines Utah’s GRAMA statutes, I am confident all members will work diligently to craft recommendations which protect the public’s right to know, protect an individual’s legitimate right to privacy, and protect taxpayer dollars. The legislature took this action after an outcry from press organizations and open government activists around the state. Pressure was also applied from national press organizations and other watchdog groups.
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