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Home > Free Ammo Page > Things Your GRAMA Never Taught You

Things Your GRAMA Never Taught You

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?

Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) is a useful tool in exposing the discussions and actions of your elected and unelected servants, lobbyists, and special interest groups.  This page exists to help you feel confident in making your own GRAMA request.

Topics:

GRAMA Basics

What If Your GRAMA is Ignored or Denied?

GRAMA Advanced Basics

Successful GRAMAs

GRAMA Basics

Under Utah statute, you are entitled to ask any elected or unelected servant for any communication about his/her job.  This includes email, text message, Twitter, Facebook, U.S. mail, teleconference, in-person meeting, and any other form of communication.

Let's jump right into it.  For a sample GRAMA request form (in .pdf format), click here. And you don't even have to use that form, but it can be helpful.

You can also choose to utilize the state "Open Records Portal" page, which claims to help you find the right person, fill out a standard form, and track your requests.  Doesn't seem that difficult, does it? 

Here are some points to remember as you compose your own GRAMA request:

1) The more specific your are, the faster an agency or office can respond.  If you want a copy of any discussion about gun control they have ever conducted, your request might take a while, or be rejected for being too broad.  But you could ask for any communications regarding a specific bill or initiative between certain elected officials.

2) You must include your name, full address, and a daytime phone number where you can be reached.  This is a statutory requirement.

3) If you want hard copies, there may be a cost.  We therefore recommend that you make your request via email and direct them to reply with the information via email.  Again, the more specific you are, the more difficult it will be for them to attempt to charge you money to fulfill your request.

4) GRAMA responses can be lengthy.  The government agency will typically attempt to send you a response via email first, so make sure you are able to take very large attachments, and remember to check your bulk or spam folder in case your response is dumped there.

5) You can attempt to expedite their response.  The normal response time to a GRAMA request is 10 business days.  However, under state statute 63G-2-2-204(3)(b), you can request an expedited response in 5 business days by showing that an "the record request benefits the public."  As you will hopefully be sharing the information, a timely response would benefit the public in their understanding of the issue.

That's really all you need to get you started.  If you have any questions or need advice or assistance, contact the Utah records ombudsman.  If he/she fails to assist you in a timely or sufficient manner, feel free to contact us at info@utgunrights.com.

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GRAMA can get a titch cranky when she's ignored.
What If Your GRAMA is Ignored or Denied?

If your GRAMA request is ignored beyond 10 business days, or if your request is denied, then do give the Utah records ombudsman a call.  Ask lots of questions and see if there isn't a way to make a more successful request.  It is also possible that he/she may mediate your request, or even intervene on your behalf.

If that fails to produce satisfactory results, you can file a notice of appeal to the chief administrative officer.  This is the first level of appeal.

And if that appeal fails, you may file a notice of appeal to the state records committee.  This is the second level of appeal.

Note that you can also file an appeal with a state court.

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GRAMA Advanced Basics

The following resources may aid you in formulating successful requests and in navigating the appeals process.

To read the entire state statute governing GRAMA, click here.

To see the official GRAMA main page, click here.

For other GRAMA forms, click here.

To visit the state records committee page, click here.

To read information on navigating the GRAMA appeals process, click here.

To see the Salt Lake Tribune's "GRAMA Watch", click here.

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Successful GRAMAs

Success Story 1: Revealing Secretive Votes: After governor Herbert vetoed HB 76 S1 in 2013, it was unclear whether citizens would be able to obtain the secretive poll results conducted by the senate monarch and house monarchess.  According to the house and senate joint rules 2-2-201(2)(b),

"The sponsor of a bill being considered for the veto override shall be provided, UPON REQUEST, the itemized list of how each legislator responded to the poll." [bold caps added]

The sponsor of the bill in question chose not to respond to numerous citizen invitations for him to request the vote and provide the results to the public.

In response, activist Kenneth Warfield filed a GRAMA request with the senate monarch and house monarchess, requesting that they provide the results of the poll.  The senate monarch and his office responded with the following document, whereas the house monarchess failed to respond or acknowledge Warfield's request.

Warfield then spoke with the Utah records ombudsman (mentioned above), interacted with house employees, and was subsequently able to obtain the following document.  Obtaining these two documents notified legislators that veto override actions were being observed and reviewed.

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