Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Governor Herbert Signs HB477

Herbert Quote of the Year: “Our goal (in 'gutting' GRAMA) is open and transparent government"

By: The Lovely Jennifer

He signed it!
After trying to placate those who expressed concern against this atrocity with false empathy and hope, saying out of interest for the many voters who didn't like it that it needs to wait and bear more scrutiny... he signed it anyway.


Update 5/9/11 7:30 a.m.: Amazingly, and despite the fact that the Governor rolled over and went along with the legislative majority, some pathologically paranoid legislative legislative Republicans still feel like Herbert "threw them under the bus" amid the controversy surrounding the bill:
As one clever reader quips in the SLTrib article comment section, "What better use for a bus?"


Curmudgeon said...


When the people elect men [or women] to office to whom honor is a stranger, you cannot reasonably expect them to behave honorably. It'd be like expecting a dog to fly, and then being surprised and angry when it did not.

RudiZink said...

No problema, Curm. They all know the bull is half-baked; but they promise they're gonna fix it.
Scouts Honor!

Curmudgeon said...

Here's my prediction. After s few show hearings, the House and Senate leadership will announce that while there are a few minor little fixes they want to make to the bill, none of them are of such importance as to justify an expensive special session being called , and so instead the little tweeks and fixes will be taken care of next year at the regular session --- all in the name of fiscal conservatism, of course.

Remember, you heard it here first!

Dan S. said...

Rally at the state capitol tomorrow (Thursday) at 6 pm.

Guess I'll have to miss the great science lecture on campus that evening. Dang.

Anonymous said...

And we traded O. Walker for this troll?

Ray said...

Unfortunately this tactic(s) works for the majority party in Utah. They did the same thing with the town incorporation bill. (Think Powder Mtn) Pass it then, pass the Bucks-so to speak. Claim innocence, let the furor die down and hope the sheeple will forget...I wonder if there is any case law that might be used if a lawsuit is needed to reverse this train wreck? Not that I'm excited to quickly involve lawyers but what other options are available?

blackrulon said...

Since we are now going to allow ads on buses I have a suggestion for raising more funds. Let legislators wear patches telling who contributed to their campaign. A percentage of money could go the the state. Since they are bought and paid for why not produly let everyone know who owns them?

Curmudgeon said...


I don't see any grounds for a lawsuit that would likely succeed. The legislators passed the GRAMA bill two decades ago, and can clearly revise it as they please, unless they by doing so violate some constitutionally guaranteed liberty. I don't see a constitutional question this new GRAMA law raises [unless it violates some provision of the Utah constitution with which I am not familiar enough to say].

The new law is very bad public policy and makes a mockery of our spineless governor's claim that it demonstrates a commitment to open and transparent government. But I don't see a constitutional challenge that might successfully raised against it. Bad law is not always unconstitutional law.

If there is a constitutional challenge that could successfully be mounted, I'd be happy to learn what it might be.

But as with so much of bad government in Utah, the constitutional remedy is at the ballot box, and in the People's Republic of Zion, that remedy isn't likely to be applied anytime soon.

Dan S. said...


The constitutional basis for open records laws, if any, is presumably in the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press. The argument is that in order to report on government, the press needs access to information about government. But I don't think this argument has ever been tested before the Supreme Court, and there's certainly no consensus among experts that the argument would hold up.

Nevertheless, attorney Jeff Hunt was quoted recently saying that HB 477 may push the limits of what is constitutionally permissible. It would be interesting to ask him to elaborate on that comment. I'm sure he's think about it real hard right now.

RudiZink said...

Curm said: "I don't see any grounds for a lawsuit that would likely succeed."

I'm gonna have to go along with Curm on this. What the legislature "giveth" in re the Utah GRAMA act, it can also "taketh away" at the slightest whim, as it has now done.

That's just the way it is when you have right wing fascist kooks controlling the legislature.

And Yes. You can still file a lawsuit, and seek (and probably obtain through discovery) all records (electronic and otherwise) under general (legal/constitional) principles of American and Utah law.

Unfortunately however, with the emasculation of formerly citizen friendly GRAMA law by the operation of HB477, you'd better have extremely deep pockets to finance such a lawsuit.

Curmudgeon said...


First amendment would come into play if HB 477 enjoined the press from publishing any of the new protected classes of records [text messages for example] it might get hold of. That would constitute prior restraint and there is pretty clear case law on that [US v NY Times --- the Pentagon Papers case for example].

But absent an attempt to prohibit press publication of the newly protected documents, I don't see the First Amendment's free press provisions in play here.

Dan S. said...

Curm: Like I said, this seems to be an untested legal theory. Let me add, however, that GRAMA itself currently says that the right to access government records is based in the constitution. That's one of the parts of GRAMA that HB 477 would repeal.

Curmudgeon said...


I'm guessing that means the Utah State Constitution, not the US Constitution. I don't know enough about the former to comment.

Curmudgeon said...


House vote to pass HB 477 the first time it passed was 61-12 in favor. Every Republican voted for it.

But after it was "recalled" from the governor's desk and amended to delay implementation to July 1st, and it came before the house again for final passage the vote was very different. That time it was 42 to 29 in favor. A considerable number of House Republicans switched from "yea" on the first vote to "nay" on the final vote, including Ogden Rep. Dixon Pitcher. Ogden Rep. Peterson seems to have ducked the second vote. Rep. "Free Lunch" Dee of of course voted "aye" the second time too.

I'm guessing that a number of House Republicans think they were not served well by their leadership on this bill. Not surprising if so. The people of Utah weren't well served either.

The final House vote to send the amended bill to the governor is here: here.

Danny said...

I told you he'd sign it.

They have a super majority. There is no reason for them not to slide into this overt corruption.

Next prediction: It will get worse, and worse, and worse, until we vote them out.

It's the way the world is.

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