Even those who have passively followed Utah Politics over the past five years know that government transparency and access to government documents has been a major topic on the hill.
The legislature has not quite known what to do with acess to government records for the public. The pendulum swung towards less access in 2011 with the passage of HB 477 (what would be known as the anti-GRAMA bill) by Representative Dougall (now the State Auditor). The concept was soundly rejected by voters and, as many of you know, HB 477 was repealed due to referendum – largely on grounds that the public and media did not want to be locked out of government records.
Senator Deidre Henderson (Republican – Spanish Fork) is working to swing government policy in the opposite direction as she introduces SB 283 – Availability of Public Information Amendments.
The bill creates a temporary board to study and create legislation that would allow for safe and open records access of government records for the public. This board will consist of members of the public, Archivists, Technology Officers, as well as members of the legislature and executive branch.
Jason Williams, a member of the Utah GRAMA Working Group, who has been working with the Senator to put this legislation together, says that the work of the committee will be guided by the work crafted by the Sunlight Foundation, a national organization that focuses on using modern technology to make government more accessible. However, they will not be bound by this, as they hope to find a solution crafted by Utahns for Utahns.
With this bill being introduced so late in the session, the outcome of SB283 this year is uncertain. If the bill does not make it through the House and Senate in time, it is hoped that the issue will be taken up during the interim and reintroduced early in the 2014 session.
To contact Sen. Henderson, Click Here or call 801-787-6197
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill