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Bill to restrict access to government records passes House

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  • terra nova Park City, UT
    March 4, 2011 12:34 p.m.

    This feels wrong. Very wrong.

    But there is probably merit to the argument that overly large GRAMMA requests are take a lot of staff time. When budgets are tight, it makes sense to cut them. But at what cost? Is our freedom to be sold so cheaply?

    It is also true that many forms of communication common today were not available when GRAMMA was crafted. Text and email messages have increased the public's ability to reach out to elected officials. And that IS a good thing. Should those texts and emails be treated like a whispered conversation? Or, should we simply make it clear that any text or email is in the public domain... so you may want to avoid saying things you could be embarrassed about?

    Pushing all GRAMMA requests to have high fees associated with them feels like liberty is being quashed. It will almost inevitably be reversed on appeal to the courts. Shouldn't we look for a more reasonable middle ground before passing this charade into law?

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    March 4, 2011 11:23 a.m.

    When will the public finally wake up and vote all of our legislators out? They are not interested in serving us. They would rather serve their own self interests.

  • activ2004 Clearfield, UT
    March 4, 2011 10:36 a.m.

    "I don't give a .... what you think you are entitled to"

    [If?] the same standards of "transparency" and "integrity" apply, as a taxpaying citizen, I am entitled to the 'secret' communications of the media who are filibustering the truth from being broadcast over "We The People[s]" airwaves and prohibit the balanced and fair sides of the issues out of the editorial board meeting's and the media committee rooms.

    I [will not and cannot] continue to sit by and allow [my] elected representatives to be smeared and ridiculed by this same abusive, quasi progressive, quasi unifying media and abusive, quasi concerned citizens groups whose hypocritical "BLEATING" is deafening, until it comes to their 'secret' media communication's being ignorantly kept from the public's eye.

    Al Gore (one of just thousands) comes to mind.

  • Hey It's Me Salt Lake City, UT
    March 4, 2011 10:33 a.m.

    FDR fan. . . I don't know where you get your information on how people vote (expecially regarding mormons)this is not a article about religion!I use my brain and I try to research and vote for the person I believe will do their best for my State and Country. I believe the rest of your comment pertain not only to republicans but all parties that are in control. I feel like anyone who runs for office no matter their party always seems corrupt. It is unbelievable that politics gives so much power to people that they forget who they are and who they represent. Thank goodness the media reported this so we the people could know what they are doing on Capital Hill here in Utah.

  • Hey It's Me Salt Lake City, UT
    March 4, 2011 10:13 a.m.

    What transparency?If my tax dollars are paying their salaries, then what they say and do on the job should be of axcess to me. There shouldn't be anything to hide if they are doing what's right and legal. They are just doing this because of the situation that came to light with paying off a company that didn't win the freeway bid. That's the kind of things we as taxpayers should be able to see and hear! Maybe this will send a red flag to every voter about what kind of people we are voting into office. . .doesn't matter if they are democrat/republican/ independent/ tea party. Look and see how your representative voted and do something about it. Let them know how you feel about their decision. If they get one letter no big deal, if they get thousands they will take notice!!!!!

  • freedomforthepeople Sandy, UT
    March 4, 2011 10:06 a.m.

    If we wish to have citizen legislators (which I fully support and I do not support full-time legislators whose career is politics) then we must get with the times on communication. Reasonable, ethical people (the educated, thoughtful kind we want in office) simply will not endure the bullying that current law allows the public and the media with regard to access to "public information". The definition of public information must be narrowed to ensure that personal speech is not infringed upon.

    Most posters here and consistently in Utah have a view that as soon as a citizen is elected, they are the enemy, they are corrupt and should be placed under suspicion, as if that somehow advances our system of government. Many citizens (from my readings on these posts) believe that condemning public servants is their job and is somehow helpful. How often do you hear gratitude or praise for the predominantly volunteer efforts of our fellow citizen-leaders?

    If we create an environment where good people will not run for office, we pay the price. This is a good bill and will keep good people in office. If you run them out, only corrupt will run.

  • Ralph West Jordan Taylorsville, UT
    March 4, 2011 9:54 a.m.

    What a farce, our legislature at its very best. Speaking of farce, I watched the news last night and caught a glimpse of our illustreous Guv. mumbling out both sides of his mouth concerning this ill advised bill. Can hardley wait to see how my Rep. came out on this one! Can anyone pronounce ETHICS!

  • Dektol Powell, OH
    March 4, 2011 9:20 a.m.

    WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO HIDE?

    ALL government records should be open. If they do it, the public has a right to know. If it is financial/personal negotiations then it should be open aftr the fact. Nothing in government should be off limits to those who really pay the bills.

  • scambuster American Fork, UT
    March 4, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    The Utah Constitution is hanging by a thread! Heaven help us!

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    March 4, 2011 9:00 a.m.

    runwasatch | 8:41 p.m. March 3, 2011

    I do not have the time to request and review public records, but I am glad that someone is watching them.
    The american press should have free reign into whatever government records they want to look at.
    Despite whatever fantasy our republican dominated legislator is involved in; this is a democracy, and they are not the empire.
    Or maybe they are if the voters will not hold them accountable for this type of thing.

  • trapdinutah South Jordan, UT
    March 4, 2011 8:56 a.m.

    It seems to me that the Legislature ought to be spending time creating legislation that will allow the public to trust them - like, for example, legislation requiring their ethical behavior (since they prove over and over that they can't do it otherwise) - and quit developing and passing bills that enable them to be just as unethical as the public already knows that they are. With the Wisconsin debacle, there seems to be a lot of talk about an "out-of-control" government. Well, here in Utah, that description starts with and is exemplified by the legislature. Unfortunately, their actions demonstrate that they just don't get it, and they just don't care, and they don't care who knows it.

  • Navyvet taylorsville, utah
    March 4, 2011 7:21 a.m.

    I put my life on the line and many of my fellow veterans gave theirs to protect freedom.

    Now, in a stroke of the pen, the "uncouth crowd" can take it away?

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    March 4, 2011 6:44 a.m.

    Navyvet
    You are dead on. Right now, due to focus group studies, the Republican are saying the "right things". But just look at their actions on the hot social issues like defense of marriage, gay rights and abortions and see if they effectively do what they claim. I have been in states dominated by the Democrats and you see the same attitude, just different bad results. But is almost impossible to get a Mormon to vote for a Democrat, no matter the state of residence.

  • Bruce Edward Walker Midland, MI
    March 4, 2011 6:24 a.m.

    I agree with the majority who posted their opinions this bill is an egregious attempt to limit the ability of the press to submit Freedom of Information Act requests. This bill is bad news, and will establish a precedent potentially damaging the press' and citizens' ability to "speak to authority" by requesting and receiving government information in a timely fashion.

  • phgreek Hooper, UT
    March 4, 2011 2:24 a.m.

    @freedomforthepeople

    Where to begin...Freedom of speech is not what you apparently think it is. Freedom of speech says the government can't persecute you for what you say...extends to religeon etc. It provides no protection from criticism by your fellow man for saying something that makes him angry. As well, ANY conversation with a legislator about a legislative issue should be available, as each conversation has a potential impact on a legislators decision...it is public record, no question. I honestly don't know what private speech is, but if you mean discussions regarding legislative issues initiated by a citizen who wantes to remain anonymous...fine redact their name if they have no contracts or other interest with the state.

    Sometimes its not about the specifics of a law, but rather the environment it creates leads to lawlessness. This legislation clearly sends the wrong message regarding accountability, and in and of itelf has enormous potential to be abused.

    Seriously, we may as well put in a small, dark, smoke filled room at the Capital and quit pretending.

  • Navyvet taylorsville, utah
    March 3, 2011 11:49 p.m.

    This is what we get because we keep electing a single party. The people of Utah won't wake up until it is too late. These guys on the hill don't listen to their constituents, don't pay attention to public polls and see themselves as above direction and certainly above reproach. As long as we blindly vote for the candidate with the "R" we will continue to lose our freedoms.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    March 3, 2011 10:54 p.m.

    @freedomforthepeople

    You are wrong, plain and simple. Government workers have NO right to privacy on a government-owned computer or phone. If a government worker wishes to have private email converstations or text conversations, they need to do so on equipment that they own, not the equipment the taxpayers own. A government computer is for government use, not to email his buddies.

  • freedomforthepeople Sandy, UT
    March 3, 2011 10:49 p.m.

    Many of you have fallen prey to the media's slant on this issue. Not surprising since they get to control the issue through their publication of the story.

    This bill will protect free speech, not inhibit it.

    And the GRAMA requests really can be ridiculous and burdensome.

    Good bill - it will help protect citizens, our speech and the private speech of our citizen-legislators.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    March 3, 2011 10:46 p.m.

    @runwasatch

    "Limiting the media's self imposed entitlement to all information on anything is a good thing... the media is biased and out of control. Time to reign them in!!"

    So the press has no business getting infomration about the public's business? When the government gets to control what information the deem the public is privelidged enough to have we are no better than the USSR and Pravda.

  • attentive Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2011 10:18 p.m.

    Who really thought that it wouldn't "sail through the House?" Was there a chance that it wouldn't?

  • tigger AMERICAN FORK, UT
    March 3, 2011 9:28 p.m.

    This is the type of legislation that gets passed when there is only one party (either party) running the state. We need two parties for discussion and debate.

  • standtall Sandy, UT
    March 3, 2011 9:15 p.m.

    @runwasatch: The reason we don't generally have to access public records (and pay the fee associated with it) is because the media DOES. It is their JOB. And, I daresay I "need" access to public records on a daily basis, though I might not always take advantage of that access. No good can come from greater secrecy for a government. Are there no other ways for them to streamline their work load? Government has "come to a stop" because they allow the public to have too much access? Please. Give me a break.

  • runwasatch Ogden, UT
    March 3, 2011 8:41 p.m.

    Interesting how the media, who really are the ones who will be impacted by this bill, are so vigorously stirring up the populous into thinking this is some terrible thing.

    Ask yourself, when was the last time you needed access to public records?

    Given how frequently the media quotes "anonymous sources" who can't be named because they are not authorized to discuss or release the information, it seems the media gets what ever information it wants - one way or another.

    Media crybabies whining they won't be able to do what ever they want...

    Limiting the media's self imposed entitlement to all information on anything is a good thing... the media is biased and out of control. Time to reign them in!!

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    March 3, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    This bill is outrageous and slimey.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    March 3, 2011 8:02 p.m.

    This deserves deliberate discussion with public access advocates, not a 24-hour rush job. Doesn't the Republican majority already have enough opportunity to predetermine outcomes in their secret caucuses? I say all cell phone/texting/email among legislators during legislative sessions be publicly broadcast, recorded, or banned. Otherwise a quorum of any committee can discuss and make a decision in private at any time, avoiding public exposure of the real issues during public meetings.

    When making law becomes as distasteful as making sausage we need another Upton Sinclair.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    March 3, 2011 6:57 p.m.

    "Dougall said he also proposed the changes to protect constituents' privacy, allowing them to communicate candidly with their representatives."

    More like to protect lobbyists' privacy and allow them to agree with "their" representatives on ethics violations which could be embarrassing if discovered by the public. What a total circus.

  • Trueman Draper, Utah
    March 3, 2011 5:40 p.m.

    Making it easier to withhold information from the public is shameful. Hopefully the Utah Senate will wakeup and smell the decaf and kill the proposed bill.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2011 5:27 p.m.

    Once again, something created in the Utah Legislature that will have to be settled in the 10th District Court of Appeals in Denver.

  • Cedarite Cedar City, UT
    March 3, 2011 4:53 p.m.

    Utah's Righteous Overlords always know what is best for the peasantry, even if the peasants don't know what is good for them.

  • Alfred SLC, Utah
    March 3, 2011 4:29 p.m.

    "A bill that would restrict public access to many government records sailed through the House Thursday, less than 24 hours after it was first discussed in committee."

    Step one in moving toward a secretive tyrannic government.