Citizens urged to smother secrecy bill in signatures
Almost everyone involved in repealing HB 477 admits that discussion on the law with those that make them is needed.
But most say let's be sure that that discussion takes place from the baseline of the existing law, not the one that presently will come into effect on July 1.
Over two weeks ago the legislature took many unusual steps to pass the bill, which severely changes the present Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA). They got it through and were planning on having it take affect right away. But with public pressure they made the unusual move of recalling it from the governor's desk and setting the start time for the bill's provisions to July 1 so that the parties involved could "discuss" the issues.
Now Gov. Gary Herbert has called a special session on Friday to repeal the bill. On Monday the House Republican caucus met and agreed to do just that. However, word out of the Senate is that they may not do that.
That is the very reason that citizens may want to sign the petition for the referendum to make the bill moot.
The petitions must be submitted to the state in about 30 days, so gathering the 130,000 signatures that is needed across the state for the referendum to be put on the ballot next fall will be difficult. But it can be done.
As important as that is though, citizens' names placed on the petition do something else. It says they are opposed to both the legislature passing a bill that would take away citizen rights, as well as taking a stand on the poor way the bill slid through the statehouse without much serious, deep discussion.
The law as it stands right now allows a private citizen to find out a lot of things about government, at low or no cost to you. If the new laws go into effect, then some things may be off the table for necessary perusal, and it may cost those who request information financially, in some cases a lot.
The petition will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Sun Advocate offices at 845 East Main in Price. Also it will be available at the Sun Advocate/Emery County Progress booth at the Home and Garden Show this weekend.
Citizens often feel powerless in the face of big government, so this is a chance to really make a difference. One you can measure.