New bill could restrict access to government records

New bill could restrict access to government records



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A bill moved forward today on Utah's Capitol Hill that has journalists worried government records will be kept more secret.

The Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA) lets the public see what public officials are doing, but House Bill 122 could make it more difficult to see some of those records.

Rep. Doug Aagard says he's trying to get back to the original intent of GRAMA with HB 122. "Frankly, there are a lot of people that use GRAMA for the wrong reasons," he said.

Aagard says attorneys are using it to get around legal processes. The bill would restrict access to records when notice has been filed of upcoming litigation.

"The public can still GRAMA. They can still request records. None of that changes," he said.

But attorney Jeff Hunt, with the Utah Media Coalition, which includes KSL, says this will gut public interest balancing. He says "Balance shouldn't work one way in favor of secrecy."

Hunt also said, "This bill carves out large numbers of records relating to law enforcement, licensing proceedings, audits and the like. It's bad public policy."

The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee gave the bill a favorable recommendation this morning.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

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Mary Richards

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