Bill Would Require Government Public Meetings be Recorded

Bill Would Require Government Public Meetings be Recorded

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Legislation endorsed by the Legislature's Government Operations Interim Committee would require all public meetings held by government bodies to record all discussions and transcribe minutes.

Recording meetings are now an option for government bodies, and written minutes are considered the official record.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Glenn Donnelson, R-North Ogden, said his main intent is to ensure that people feel like they have somewhere to turn if they dispute the written minutes and to ease concerns about possible behind-the-scene changes to the records.

"There's a public perception that because there is only written minutes, we as a body can go in the back room and change those minutes," he said. "We want to change that perception."

A similar bill was proposed last year by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, but failed in the Senate because of concerns that the requirement was too burdensome, especially for small cities or special districts.

Donnelson said requiring recording will not overwhelm the staff or budgets of any government entity. He said a recorder costs $12.50 and is easy to operate.

Lincoln Shurtz, legislative analyst for the Utah League of Cities of Towns, said that their primary concern was making sure that there was an official record, whether it be the written or recorded minutes, for cities involved in lawsuits.

"We want to make sure the minutes are accurate," Shurtz said. "But we need to have some finality for what is the final record, which has always been the written record."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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