“Hand me the flashlight.”

“What do you need it for?”

“I’m doing a story on an elected member of the Utah Legislature.”

“Why do you need a flashlight?”

“Apparently, they’ve chosen to operate in the dark. They’ve closed information avenues that media can access in reporting to the public about their actions in office, and made it more expensive for citizens in general to get public records.”

“Why are they doing that, are they hiding something?”

 

****

Yes, they are!

What else would be the reason the state representatives and senators voted for House Bill 477 so quickly and without public debate? Incidentally, this is the only law in the nation that doesn’t allow tech communication access between our representatives and the public. Let’s allow our government representatives to do business behind closed doors, without public scrutiny. Great idea! The bill changes Utah’s progressive 1991 GRAMA bill to nothing other than giving the middle finger to their constituency.

How rude and arrogant! We elected them to represent us. They travel to Salt Lake City and throughout the state, not only for legislative sessions, but for interim meetings throughout the year as well – and we pay for it. In their legislative capacity, state taxpayers pay them, buy their food, give them health benefits, provide for gas and hotels while in Salt Lake. (Think how many weeks they’re in session!) We also buy the computers and pay for their phones while they are working.

It’s not hard to figure out why they wanted HB477. FREE RIDE! They can now talk to whom they want, interact with whom they want, get lobbied and make deals with whom they want...and guess what? That’s protected actions, folks. Under a guise of protecting their constituents’ private conversations, they have ruined your or my ability to ever find out what they’re doing.

It’s important that we as a community of taxpayers say no, we’re not taking this anymore! We’re their bosses! They (elected officials) are responsible to Utah taxpayers. They don’t tell us how this is going to play – we tell them. This behavior is enough!

Governments operating in the dark remind us of Communist regimes. “We will tell you what you need to know...at the right time...only to benefit ourselves.” A government providing public information at their own whim is criminal.

Are any of them accountable to the people who elected them?

Hand me a flashlight.

****

We were granted a short reprieve late Monday...Governor Herbert sent the bill back to the legislature for more consideration and debate.

I strongly encourage everyone to contact their elected representatives, and express your opinion on this issue. (Please hurry! If this bill is put into law, your tech communications with our elected officials will not be public record any more!)

 

Governor Gary Herbert

Phone-801-538-1000

Fax-801-538-1528

governor.utah.gov/goca/form_comment.html

 

Senator Dennis Stowell (was absent for vote)

Phone-435-559-8143

email-dstowell@utahsenate.org

 

Representative Mike Noel (voted for HB477)

Phone-435-644-8169

email-mnoel@kanab.net