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Home > Alerts & Updates > 2014 Bill Tracking Page > HB 242: Freedom of Information

House sponsor,
Brian King
Senate sponsor, Unknown
House Bill 242: Freedom of Information

by statuator Brian King, house district 13, "Democrat".

Summary: Government entities currently abuse a loophole in Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) to charge exorbitant fees for providing information to the public. HB 242 would begin to limit the games they play to avoid openness and accountability.
Status: This bill was "held" by House Monarchess Rebecca Lockhart's hand-picked political subdivisions committee, and died in the rules committee.
UT Gun Rights supported this bill.  See its bill status page. To contact your statutators, click here.

"REFRESH" this page ("F-5" on most browsers) to see latest version.  Last updated: 3/14/14 at 1:00a.


Click on picture to enlarge.
The Details...

Government Blocking Legitimate Requests for Information

GRAMA is Utah's version of the federal Freedom of Information Act.  It empowers citizens to request, and receive, vital information on the oft-unseen communications and activities of state and local government agencies and officials.

Unfortunately, government entities currently abuse a loophole in statute to charge fees — sometimes exorbitant fees — for providing public information to... the public. 

According to Sheryl Worsley, president of the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists:

"Journalists and sometimes citizens alike are being priced out of the ability to check on government."
Source: "Utah bill to lower costs for records requests stalls", Lee Davidson, Salt Lake Tribune, 2/4/14.

Bill Would Limit Abuse

HB 242 would begin to limit the games government agencies can play in charging fees; particularly if the requested information is to be shared with others.

Here is the proposed statutory change from lines 56-62 of the bill (deleted language has strikethrough and new proposed language is underlined and italicized):

"(4) A governmental entity [may] shall fulfill a record request without charge [and is encouraged to do so whenif it determines that:...
(a) releasing the record primarily benefits the public rather than a person;
(b) the individual requesting the record is the subject of the record, or an individual specified in Subsection 63G-2-202 (1) or (2); or
(c) the requester's legal rights are directly implicated by the information in the record, and the requester is impecunious."

In this case, "shall" is a more useful word than "may".  Citizens should be encouraged, not financially penalized, to access and share information with the public — particularly when they already paid for it to exist in the first place.

UT Gun Rights views HB 242 as a step in the right direction.

Remember this shocker? It was revealed through a citizen GRAMA request.
GRAMA Assists Gun Owners in Revealing Government Secrets

Much of the secrets UT Gun Rights has been able to reveal is due to citizen GRAMA requests.  Consider just a few examples:

  • The House and Senate Monarchs were pressured to release their secretive veto override polling results on last year's HB 76 S1 (Carry "Unloaded" Firearms Concealed). In secret emails, statutators and other officials admitted to hiding behind Executive Monarch Herbert's veto and identified secretive "back channels" through which they conduct business. See page 9 of the "2013 Utah Government Corruption Report".

  • The Utah Sheriffs' Association secretly voted to oppose HB 76 S1 in the secretive Law [sic] Enforcement Legislative Committee (LELC).  See "Why Did Utah's Sheriffs Oppose HB 76?"

  • W. Clark Aposhian, Chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, appeared to secretively facilitate opposition to HB 76, in a transcript of a March 15, 2013 communication between Clark Aposhian and Mike Mower, Herbert's Deputy for Community Outreach.  See "Why Would the USSC Chair Privately Lobby Against HB 76 S1?"

  • Ogden police chief Gary Williams' secret email was exposed, clearly fingering Senate Monarch Wayne Niederhauser's "leadership" as the senate's center of power, and is poised to poised to seize more power this session.  See "Monarch Niederhauser Violates Your Senate Statutators!"

GRAMA is potent tool to expose the nefarious activities of politicians.  Time to give it more teeth.

GRAMA can get a titch cranky when she's ignored.
Learn More About GRAMA Requests

Did your statutory servant claim that some organization you've never heard of supports his bill?

Did your city council reference a discussion with a lobbyist you were not privy to?

Does your county attorney seem to be playing favorites with a particular group or agenda?

If your gut tells you that there is more to the issue than meets the eye, there probably is.  So what do you do about it?

GRAMA is a useful tool in exposing the discussions and actions of your elected and unelected servants, lobbyists, and special interest groups. 

To help you feel confident in making your own GRAMA request, see Things Your GRAMA Never Taught You.

Appropriate Action: Contact The Two People Who Own the Statutarium ("legislature")

As the 2013 Utah Government Corruption Report amply demonstrates, two monarchs abuse and dominate the house and senate and work together to destroy your rights: house speaker Rebecca Lockhart and senate president Wayne Niederhauser. Contrary to what you learned in civics class, your house and senate statutators merely serve their gun control agenda.

How can two people possibly exercise such control? As one example, the house speaker and senate president alone appoint and remove EVERY member of EVERY committee. Lockhart and Niederhauser are empowered to do this without any review or confirmation process.
Sources: “The general duties of the Speaker are to:... appoint the members of committees…” (House Rules 1-3-102. Duties of the speaker) and “The general duties of the president are to:… appoint the members of committees…” (SR1-3-102. Duties of the president)

Consider the vast implications of this incredible power! No bill may be voted on in the house or senate without going through a committee. As a result, bills live or die almost entirely upon the calculated orders of these two monarchs.

Their powers are so extreme, no provision exists in the house or senate rules to fire the monarchs before their two-year terms are over. They lord over each body, trade favors, and sell your rights; all while pretending that decisions are made by the will of the majority instead of their monarchial authority.

The political buck stops with Lockhart and Niederhauser for failing to advance positive gun owner bills, and for every gun control bill enacted. Until more statutators are motivated to oppose the iron fists of the monarchs’ near absolute power, your rights will continue to be undermined.

Because your house and senate statutators merely serve their will and agenda, contacting them is often just a courtesy call.  Only two people hold the power over Utah's statutarium ("legislature"):

For House Monarchess Rebecca Lockhart's contact information (and the rest of the house statutators), click here.  For Senate Monarch Wayne Niederhauser's contact information (and the rest of the senate statutators), click here


Other views & opinions to compare and contrast: Utah Political CapitolWeber County Fprum


Click here to go back to The 2014 Bill Tracking Page: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.



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