Loss of Public Confidence Prompts Governor Herbert to Call for Repeal of HB477

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After initially signing much-maligned House Bill 477 into law just days ago, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert today called for a repeal because it has “in both process and substance, resulted in a loss of pubic confidence,” according to a statement issued by the Governor’s office.

Herbert stated that the public hearing process for HB477 “did not meet the standard of openness and public dialog such legislation warranted.”

In the statement the Governor revealed that he “even considered a veto” of the bill initially, saying it may have had “symbolic value,” but because of the “risk of HB477 becoming law immediately upon the Legislature’s veto-override,” he believed the danger was too great.

The Governor expressed his belief that public access to government records is important, saying it is “hallmark of a modern republic– and a principle I have consistently advocated”, but explaining that the 20-year-old Government Records Access and Management Act could not “anticipate our world of new media.” In order to address this, Herbert restated his intention to call the Legislature into a special session to “repeal and replace HB477.” He had initially made this commitment when he signed the bill.

In part, the statement reads, “I asked legislative leadership to recall and amend the bill to provide three things: 1) a delayed implementation date, 2) a process for meaningful public and stakeholder input, whereby a replacement bill could be crafted, and 3) reflects my commitment to call a special legislative session to repeal and replace HB477.”

“The Utah State Legislature now has the opportunity to work with the media and the public to restore that confidence by forming a working group to create a replacement for HB477. This group should consist of legislators, new and traditional media representatives, and members of the general public.

“I expect all stakeholders to engage as honest brokers in good faith-putting aside personal bias and cynicism-for deliberative, open discussion. The media has committed to finding the right outcome.В  The Legislature has committed to the same. I expect the public to engage and protect their rights.

“Any modifications to GRAMA must meet three principles.В  First, they must protect the public’s right to know, as transparent and accountable government is essential.В  Second, they must protect every individual’s legitimate right to privacy. Third, they must protect taxpayers against the cost of overreaching ‘fishing expeditions.'”

For full text of the Governor’s statement, please visit: https://www.utah.gov/governor/news_media/article.html?article=4479

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