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Front Page » March 22, 2011 » Opinion » Don't relax yet on secrecy law
Published 1,308 days ago

Don't relax yet on secrecy law


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

On Monday, Governor Gary Herbert stated that he was ready to call a special session of the legislature to repeal House Bill 477 that was pushed through both houses at the end of the session two weeks ago. Good for the governor.

In a closed Republican conference that afternoon it was announced that the Republicans want to repeal it also.

But let's not relax yet.

Remember what happened then. In both the special committees that were held to hear the bill before it went to the respective floors, no one except its sponsors spoke for it. Private groups, environmental groups, personal rights groups, and yes the media testified against it with only one of members of those committees voting against it. Then in both houses of the legislature, it sailed through the body like green jello being squeezed through a tube. Then after a firestorm of criticism it was recalled from the governor's desk and the due date on it was changed from immediately to July 1, and a promise that negotiations would take place between interest groups and a legislative committee before the summer deadline and some changes would be made. Then the governor signed it, because he said it was veto proof and he didn't want to be overridden.

What could happen with a special session then, remains to be seen. This entire process with this bill has been unorthodox. Secret plans to introduce the bill for months before hand without letting anyone in on it, two special committees formed to hear it that no one remembers ever seeing created before, a bill recalled from the governor's desk and then the offer to negotiate on a bill that had been passed but could be modified leaves this legislation laying in as strange a graveyard as any 1950's horror movie. No one could have imagined such a strange set of events, even Ed Wood who produced what is claimed to be the worst movie ever made, Plan Nine from Outer Space.

What will really happen remains to be seen. Polls show that an overwhelming amount of Utahns fear this bill the way it was written, but more so the process by which it came to be. It has become and example of the very reason that the Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA), which it literally killed, came into existence.

That is why the pressure that those supporting total repeal must continue and the Sun Advocate is one of those businesses that believes this bill was not only wrong sided to begin with, but was done in the worst way possible, out of the eyes of the public.

Consequently we support the referendum that was filed by some private individuals to fold the bill back. And because of that commitment we are hosting at our front counter a petition Carbon residents can sign as part of that drive. Anyone who is a registered voter can sign the petition. If you are not registered, go to the county courthouse and register to vote. Then come to the Sun Advocate office at 845 East Main in Price to sign the petition. We need 1500 signatures for Carbon County to be part of this movement that will tell those in the legislature that they can't mess with everyone's ability to get to the bottom of how they run our government. It will also send a message that they can't ram something down the throats of the public just because they think something should be one way or another.

It's time to act. And even if they do repeal it before the petition is ready, it will show them the power of John Q. Public.

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March 22, 2011
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