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Gov. Gary Herbert: A good process can reshape HB477

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  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    March 21, 2011 1:03 p.m.

    477 is a good bill, but it was rushed through too quickly. So the main problem is its PERCEPTION, not the reality or wording of the bill itself.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    March 21, 2011 1:17 p.m.

    Repealing HB477 can reshape it as well.

    Remember: The Patriot Act allows the goverment to search your records and property without warrent.

    HB477 denies the average public access to Utah's legislatures email and text messaging.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    March 21, 2011 1:37 p.m.

    I am not getting good feelings after reading this article......
    We must stay informed. Let's not get hoodwinked again, Utah!

  • Furry1993 Somewhere in Utah, UT
    March 21, 2011 3:26 p.m.

    The only good way to "reshape" HB477 is to repeal it. Throw it out, and start over if real corrections are needed to it. People of Utah -- please be aware of what Herbert and his minions are trying to do -- keep that piece of trash in place while making people THINK they're trying to be responsive to the wishes of Utah's citizens by negating it.

    The best thing to do is get the Referendum in place, and totally toss HB477 in the trash where it belongs.

  • Jimmer77 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 21, 2011 7:43 p.m.

    The Guv has lost all credibility with me. This is not the first thing that he has done that smells badly.

  • Instereo Eureka, UT
    March 22, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    It's one thing to protect the privacy of communication between a legislator and his/her spouce. It's another thing to protect the privacy between a legislator and a lobbiest.

    It's one things to stop a "fishing expedition" which was done soley to cause the state money. It's another thing to stop a "fishing expedition" to look for ethics violations, examples of back room deals, or a general disrespect to the democratic process.

    HB477 should be repealed. It should be studied during Interim Sessions. It should not be redone/rewritten during a one day session.

    It's hard to trust legislators who first of all passed this bill so quickly, without debate, under pressure from leadership, and who keep changing their stories based on the push back they are getting from the voters.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    March 22, 2011 8:13 a.m.

    "It is now clear to me," Herbert says. It's funny how clarity hits a politician in the head when the voters start sending a clear message.

  • Speaking Up Draper, UT
    March 22, 2011 8:19 a.m.

    The bottom line for me is this: if we, the taxpayers, are paying for their phones, then we have a right to GRAMA their emails, text messages, etc. They are working on our behalf. I am still in shock that the legislature did not anticipate the outcry about this. And they definitely underestimated the power of the press.

  • AlanSutton Salt Lake City, UT
    March 22, 2011 8:31 a.m.

    I like the bill. It protects individual privacy.

    If I send an electronic message to my legislator encouraging him to vote a certain way, that's not be public information any more than how I vote in the voting booth.

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington DC, MD
    March 22, 2011 9:08 a.m.

    Just kill the bill.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    March 22, 2011 9:17 a.m.

    I agree with AlanSutton. I expect that my private communications with my legislator will remain private. Whether those communications take place in person, via a phone call, in a letter, or via a text or email message should make no difference.

    Let us remember, it is one thing for those living in urban, high population density areas to drive the down the street and chat with a legislator in person. It is quite another thing for those of us living in more rural areas where our legislators may live a 2 hour drive away. My short text message or even lengthy email to my rural legislator should enjoy the same level of privacy as is enjoyed by an urban legislator and his constituent chatting in the front yard or living room.

    And, as a taxpayer, I'm not thrilled about picking up large bills so the biased media can engage in partisan fishing expeditions against legislators who all happen to be in one party. Expecting requestors to pay reasonable costs for their GRAMA requests is not out of line.

    The State constitution already protects the right of the accused against paying any fees for material needed for defense.

  • Heaps Provo, UT
    March 22, 2011 10:19 a.m.

    Gov. Herbert:

    Are you serious. There is no need to amend the bill because the bill shouldn't even exist! If you restrict access to public officials' communication that is electronic, how do you think our gov. officials are going to communicate???

    Electronically.

    This bill is ridiculous. If this goes into affect no one in the legislature including you should be re-elected. Get rid of this bill.

    And these other comments about privacy for state officials is absolutely ludacris. A puplic official can communicate privately on personal electronics, but not on tax payer provided computers and cell phones. They should have no expectation of privacy when using government electronic services.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    March 22, 2011 10:46 a.m.

    Isn't it funny? Repubs claim that legislation that allows them to spy on us is good and for our protection. Then, they proclaim that legislation that they are above criticism and seek to take away the few means we have of spying on them.

    In other words, government is usurping all the power in order to keep tabs on citizens while taking away rights citizens have to keep tabs on the government.

    Interesting.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    March 22, 2011 10:54 a.m.

    I think the most appalling part of all of this is the complete and utter disregard for the people.

    The vast majority were/are against this legislation. Yet, the out of touch repubs rammed it through.

    Can we please vote all these guys out? Get them out. When they feel they no longer need to vote with us but FOR us, then there time is right for them to GET OUT of public office.

  • Charles History Tooele, UT
    March 22, 2011 11:04 a.m.

    The legislature is all about what is good for them is good.
    They want the free health care.
    They want their privacy.
    They want the control, (to make more money for themselves, more benefits, more perks, etc.)

    There seems to be two types of conservatives, first the ones with the power, (ether trying to keep it or get more) and the ignorant).

    When ever a person that posts that is of conservative nature, I always wonder which one are they?

    Why would any one support more secrecy in our government?
    Would we know of the payouts?
    Would we know of any of the illegal or unethical acts of these high and mighty individuals?

    The government should be about service, but currently it is about what they can get for themselves.

  • wrostow Salt Lake City, UT
    March 22, 2011 12:05 p.m.

    I would like to know if the Deseret News is going to defend the rights of the people to have an open government or continue to cater to the powers that be. Instead of questioning why hb477 happened in the first place and explaining to the public how it is a reprehensible law, the DNews seems more concerned about making the governor look good. Classic you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Case in point: There are 3 people with ties to the Deseret News on the HB477 working group and no representatives of Utah's largest daily newspaper or the broadcast media. I want a newspaper that will look out for me and fulfill its watchdog role as the "fourth estate." Sadly, though, I've come to the realization that's no longer the Deseret News.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    March 22, 2011 12:07 p.m.

    Charles History | 11:04 a.m. March 22, 2011

    Cha!

    You nailed it....

    The legislature is all about what is good for them is good.
    They want the free health care.
    They want their privacy.
    They want the control, (to make more money for themselves, more benefits, more perks, etc.)

    All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal.
    I guess we can all say the pigs are in the Farmhouse.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    March 22, 2011 12:47 p.m.

    The underlying problem is Accountability and determining exactly who is the Constituency of our elected officials.

    We've arrived at a political situation in Utah where the general public is in fourth place in the pecking order:

    1. GOP Delegates - if a candidate doesn't get past the GOP convention, the candidate has no hope of holding office. If they get enough votes at the convention, they're on the ballot, which essentially means electoral victory.

    2. GOP Voters - should there be a close election at the convention, the decision could go to GOP voters in a closed primary.

    3. Lobbyists - these folks are deeply buried in our Legislature. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional or ignorant.

    4. Utah Citizenry.

    Needless to say, the first three groups are small minorities of the population.

    Because there is no meaningful political competition in Utah, and because the State's business is often conducted in private GOP caucus meetings, maybe the citizens should enact a Recall Law as another point of leverage on our elected officials.

  • Nate Daniels Woods Cross, UT
    March 22, 2011 1:29 p.m.

    @Considering: Please explain this to me. Why do you consider any communication with a "public" official to be "private"? I'm really not being cynical. This has been a long standing curiosity with my right along with people who say "red light cameras" on public roads violate their privacy. Your rep is not working for a private business. He/She is working as a public servant.

    I could see a privacy argument on behalf of the people if the goal was to protect the identities of the source of text/email/etc.. i.e. All SMS messages to the Senator (on his government phone) are automatically uploaded to the utah.gov website, but you need a court order to obtain the identity of a specific sender. But that is not what is being argued. They are saying that if you email a government address which is paid for by tax payer dollars for support of a public office, that we need a court order to see the emails. There is not a single private employer in this state that needs a court order to review employee emails. Why do public servants deserve special treatment?

  • Nate Daniels Woods Cross, UT
    March 22, 2011 1:30 p.m.

    @Peanut: How is classifying research related to fiscal notes until after the legislation passes good under any definition. You need to actually read the bill.

    @Alan: When you vote, your voice is weighed equally against all of your fellow constituents. When you attempt to influence a representative directly, you are having direct influence over your neighbors. If you text your rep and offer him a bribe to help "influence" their vote, you better be sure that is not a private matter.

    I personally find it funny that most backpedaling reps complain that it is all this new communications technology that drove HB477. Here's an idea: Instead of blaming the technology for making your job harder, use the technology to make it easier. You are called a "Public Servant" for a reason. Every aspect of your official business is done to impact the public and funded by the public. As a former Marine, I find the idea that anyone who holds Public Office and thinks they should have privacy is completely absurd. If you don't want public scrutiny, don't run for office.

  • hatuletoh Sugarhood, UT
    March 22, 2011 2:31 p.m.

    Have those who defend this bill actually read all of the provisions? You say you want your communications with your individual representatives to be private. Let's assume for the sake of argument that's reasonable, and a law ensuring such privacy is required. HB477 will do that. A few other things it will do:

    Prohibit access to ALL texts messages, regardless of content. So if a legislator wanted to engage in unethical behavior, he could simply make sure all communications on the subject were text messages--there would be no danger of discovery.

    Shift the burden of proof to the party making the request for access to records, should the request be denied under current GRAMA rules. Currently, the burden is on the government to show why the records should be sealed.

    Best of all, the bill seals any records when there is a "reasonable anticipation" of litigation. In other words, anything even slightly controversial.

    There are many more great things the bill does if you're into back-room deals and secrecy--I suggest you give it a read, or at least the summary. Protecting privacy is fine, but this bill does much, much more than that.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    March 22, 2011 2:41 p.m.

    Nate Daniels | 1:30 p.m. March 22, 2011
    Woods Cross, UT

    As a former Marine, I find the idea that anyone who holds Public Office and thinks they should have privacy is completely absurd. If you don't want public scrutiny, don't run for office.

    =================

    Agreed!
    and
    Thanks for your Service.

    We used to laugh all the time about the rank of "Private" in the Military.

    Couldn't even use the latrine or take a shower in "Private",
    yet these over paid, Public Cry Babies are whining about phone calls!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 22, 2011 3:04 p.m.

    Nate Daniels,

    You said, "Please explain this to me. Why do you consider any communication with a "public" official to be "private"?

    ===

    Well...

    #1... it's the LAW. It's ILLEGAL to record a conversation unless you notify the caller that the call is being recorded.

    IT'S THE LAW. I used to work at a Brokerage and we had to warn EVERY caller that "the call was being recorded for their protection" (in case the trade was done wrong, or challenged later, or something).

    It's the LAW... you have to tell people when their conversation is being recorded.

    ===

    Now besides the pesky LEGALITY_thing... there's the 4th_Amendment (AKA Right_to_privacy) which makes searches illegal unless there is probable_cause and a warrant.

    Being a politician isn't automatic "Probable_Cause" for a search... Including their papers, electronic_communications, etc. You still need a warrant (which the 14th_Amendment (AKA_Due_Process_Clause) states requires probable_cause).

    I know... pesky_Constitution_again... DANG!

    ===

    Now... You can ASSUME that politicians don't have the protections of the law or the Constitution... but that doesn't make you right.

    Politicians.... are CITIZENS... with legal_rights like you_and_me.

    Legislative meetings, conf_calls, emails, documents, etc, are recorded (KNOWINGLY)... so they_are_OK. Not_EVERY_Communication_private_or_not.

  • Abe Sarvis Cedar City, UT
    March 22, 2011 4:34 p.m.

    If Utah politicians want people to stop going on fishing expeditions, they need to stop stocking the pond so full of big tasty fish.

  • anti-liar Salt Lake City, UT
    March 22, 2011 4:38 p.m.

    The joke is on Utah. HB477 will be repealed, but that does not matter. After all, an essentially similar -- some say far worse -- secrecy law was tacked on to HB116 at the last minute (HB0116S03, Sections 1 and 2).

    [line 197] Section 2. Section 63G-2-305 is amended to read:
    [line 198] 63G-2-305. Protected records.
    [line 199] The following records are protected if properly classified by a governmental entity:
    [line 296](19)(a)(i) personal files of a state legislator, including personal correspondence to or from a member of the Legislature; and [...]

    and much, much more, several pages worth.

    The language is far more comprehensive than just the id's of those given the guest worker cards, and is not at all limited to matters pertaining to the guest worker program.

    So if the essential law is duplicated in two bills, and one of those two bills is repealed, what happens then?

    Do the math.

    No wonder Herbert and Lockhart are so willing to listen to the will of the people and repeal 477.

  • Hunt Spanish Fork, UT
    March 22, 2011 5:27 p.m.

    Governor Herbert,
    Here is what I have a problem with:
    1. You agreed to sign this bill long before they passed it.
    2. You signed HB477 into law with only the date of implementation being pushed back and with a non-binding promise to make changes.
    3. At the end of the day, if the legislature does not come up with a compromise the bill will become law.
    4. Because of issue 3, the leadership in the legislature now has a very powerful bargaining chip to ensure they get what they want at the expense of everyone else.
    5. You are making an effort to protect the Citizens of Utah only after the public outcry.
    6. Your excuse for not vetoing the bill is weak and shows a lack of leadership.
    7. You have not apologized and taken ownership for the obvious mistake you have made.
    8. You signed HB116 into law, a bill that has the very real potential of giving away Citizen's jobs to illegals.
    9. Your track record shows that your primary concern is for the welfare of special interest at the peoples expense.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    March 22, 2011 5:56 p.m.

    Nate Daniels if you had read the bill you would realize e-mails are specifically exempted from the protection of hb477. And why does anybody think that a text message or casual conversation during the legislative session is the only source of lobbying. At one time in history, a lot of political jockeying went on in Lamb's Cafe downtown. It goes on all year. And since we know this and that the Real Maverik might call his legislator, we should have a tap on his phone year round. Heaven forbid we were not aware of his influence.

  • scambuster American Fork, UT
    March 22, 2011 7:36 p.m.

    It is going to take a lot of time to regain public confidence. The constant, yearly assault on public education, ethics problems, and now this anti-transparency bill has done a great deal of damage to what I consider out-of-control, big state government. People want smaller government and that includes state government as well. 500+ laws per year is utterly ridiculous.

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    March 22, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    Your Gov. Gary Herbert YAWNS loudly, that some years ago, the state Legislature passed Utah's GRAMA (Government Records Access and Management Act). Its proper focus was government transparency and accountability, but it did not and could not anticipate our world of new media. If there really was any Utah was government transparency and accountability you would find out this. It's called money, greed, corruption, above the law, (ignore us common people unless they need your votes), career politician's who will take money from any special interest and say or do anything to keep his hold on power. It's secret government by and for the insiders. And big business only. Plus The Patriot Act's money laundering provisions, where are they today?. Rep. Michael Oxley removed a provision involving money laundering from the bill at the behest of the White House and GOP whip Tom DeLay. Thanks to our GOP de-regulation for BIG OIL and Wall Street plus the crooked speculators that killed the planet back in 2008, these RINO anarchists against the poor and middleclass, that are GOP socialists for themself in sheep's wool cloths. Then would you vote for them?. My view.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    March 22, 2011 10:55 p.m.

    There should be nothing ever like HB477. If the DNews signs off on any restrictions similar to what was in the original bill then they will be failing in their duty to their readership.

  • Mr. Bean SLC, Utah
    March 23, 2011 12:37 a.m.

    @Hunt 5:27 p.m.:

    10. The reason you want action to repeal the bill is so that you can get the illegal immigration bills you signed off the front page.

  • williary Kearns, UT
    March 23, 2011 12:31 p.m.

    Leadership. Something sorely missing in Utah right now. The Governor has shown none. He simply does what the Ultra-Conservative Legislature tells him too. Leadership from the Legislature, that's a very frightening thought, but unfortunatly that is who is "leading" the state right now.

    Jon Huntsman, Utah desperately misses your forward-thinking leadership. You did not let the inmates run the asylum. Something this Governor has no problem doing. And it is quickly setting Utah back.

    It's just too bad Republican voters can't see this.

  • On the other hand Spanish Fork, UT
    March 24, 2011 11:47 a.m.

    In the governor's defense, he didn't start this fire. But I'm noticing a pattern in the governor's leadership style. Just like with the UDOT bid payout fiasco, his initial response is to pretend like it's no big deal, and to fail to take a principled stand. Then, when the situation morphs into a PR catastrophe, he makes a big deal about it and goes into damage control mode.

    The governor writes about a loss of public confidence. He's right, but I want him to understand that it's not just because of this bill. The governor and the legislature are performing their jobs as if they are beholden only to the folks who financed their campaigns and the ones who carried the banner for them through Utah's inane caucus process. Their disdain for the will of the people is shameful. It's going to take much more than a song and dance around HB477 before I have any confidence in either the governor or the legislature again.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    March 25, 2011 6:53 a.m.

    Just let it be known that any phone call, e-mail, or text message, to a public phone, or computer, is public information.
    pretty much defeats the individual privacy argument.
    And do not allow private phones on the legislative floor.
    When I go to work all my e-mails and phone calls can be reviewed and recorded. And I am not allowed to conduct private business during the work day. I am not allowed to be on my private cell phone during the day. I am on company time so they expect all my energies to be at work.
    There is no reason for a legislator to be taking private phone call during the day. Have one person appointed to notify them in case of an emergency.
    Our legislator thinks they are royalty. They do not want any meaningful ethics restrictions, They skirt around the law with gifts by creative accounting, they have made it as hard as possible to pass a citizen referendum, they call public meetings private to get around the law.
    Now they do not want anyone knowing what they are doing by cripling GRAMMA.

  • Bruce Edward Walker Midland, MI
    March 25, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    The Governor makes good points about what would happen if he had vetoed the bill -- a majority would override the veto and this heinous breach of GRAMA and government transparency would've been enacted anyway. Having written that, however, saying the bill would be repealed and replaced is only half right. It should be repealed and replaced with nothing.

  • tenx Santa Clara, UT
    March 26, 2011 9:45 a.m.

    @2bits3:04. "its the Law...Its illegal.....". Well so is sneaking across the border, but it seems our Legislators and Herbert want to reward that. I think these two bills, 477 and 116, have a lot in common, scratch my back and I'll scratch yours! Viva Legal immigration.