Republican legislators in Utah are trying to kill Grandma. Don’t dismiss this as a smear. It’s true.
Only spell it GRAMA, which is an acronym for Utah’s 20-year old Government Records Access Management Act, Utah’s open government and information access law. A furiously fast four days after legislators first introduced a bill to gut the open records law, it sailed through both legislative chambers and was quickly signed by the governor.
House Bill 477 changes the core of the GRAMA law, mandating that citizens must prove they deserve access to records, rather than the previous rule requiring government officials to show cause for why a document should not be released. The legislation also exempts text messages, emails and voicemails from being disclosed, the better to keep lobbyists and special interests out of the limelight.
Thankfully, Utah has a statewide process of initiative and referendum. Already a petition to put HB-477 to a referendum is underway. Unfortunately, the task is arduous: The sponsors need 100,000 voters to sign in only 40 days.
To add extra burden, legislators have passed Senate Bill 165, outlawing citizens from using electronic signatures for just such petitions.
Now the furious Utah electorate, joined by an angry media, is creating enough heat that politicians are seeing the light. The Governor is calling a special session to repeal HB-477. And a lawsuit may be filed any day now to strike down the unconstitutional, anti-democratic SB-165.
This is Common sense. I’m Paul Jacob.