Utah lawmakers recall and amend controversial records bill for further study
Lawmakers said they hoped that the proposed study sessions would prevent a flood of GRAMA requests. Since the bill surfaced, the governor's office and the Legislature have received some 22 new requests, Lockhart said, in addition to 10 requests made since before the session started in late January. She also cited an "acceleration" of requests over the last six months.
The bill has been fiercely opposed by media outlets and many public advocacy groups, and not all were satisfied with its recall.
"It's a political ploy to get the media and the public to move on. … We, the public, will not move on," said Linda Petersen, president of the Utah Foundation for Open Government. "I don't think (legislators) really thought we would galvanize the citizens. I think they thought the citizens didn't care."
Joel Campbell, a lobbyist for the Utah Media Coalition, said that while the recall was "certainly not as much as I hoped for," he appreciated the efforts of the governor and Legislature to give the public a chance for input.
The fast-tracking of the bill united opponents on both ends of the political spectrum.
"I hated the process," said Gayle Ruzicka, president of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum. Even though she likes much of the bill, she said the "outrageous fee" increases will prevent the public from accessing information.
And Rocky Anderson, the liberal former mayor of Salt Lake City, said it was "an outrage and insult to the people of this state" based on an "arrogant political calculation" that the public would not care.
Meanwhile, Sen. Gene Davis, a House sponsor of the legislation that created GRAMA in the early 1990s and the only Senate Democrat to vote for HB477, reiterated his support for the bill.
"There's still an awful lot of information everyone can get their hands on … I really believe we did the right thing," he said. "The most important thing is we will have discussions during interim."
Former House Speaker Marty Stephens, a primary architect of the original GRAMA, said a task force of all interested parties is the best way to modernize the law.
"It's not just a legislative problem, and it's not … just a media problem," he said. "If you could get the groups to commit, both the Legislature and media to have an honest dialogue together, I believe you could come to a good solution to this."
Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche, Dennis Romboy
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