Jeffrey D. Allred
FILE - Rep. Justin Fawson, R-North Ogden, listens SB50 debate during during the final night of the legislature at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 9, 2017. The Utah Legislature has approved a bill that would make politically-related personal communications on state-issued email accounts subject to open records request.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature has approved a bill that would make politically related personal communications on state-issued email accounts subject to open records requests.

HB72, sponsored by Rep. Justin Fawson, R-North Ogden, passed the Senate with no opposition Friday. Having previously passed the full House, the bill now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for consideration.

Fawson drafted HB72 with the intent to discourage state or local officials and employees from using taxpayer-funded resources for personal political communications, such as campaigning.

It's already against the law to use government resources to campaign, but Fawson said because personal communication is protected under the Government Records Access and Management Act, politically related emails could still be classified as private.

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"Previous to this, there really was no other way to verify that this law had been broken," Fawson said when presenting the bill to a Senate committee earlier this month. "Many (public records) requests have been submitted for this type of violation, and the records request comes back with nothing because they qualify as personal communications."

Under the bill, if an email is sent in violation of the law prohibiting the use of public email for a political purpose, as determined by the records officer, it would be subject to public records laws.