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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Monday, March 07, 2011

A dark day for Utah FOI

from SPJ Blog Network:
On Wednesday, the Utah House Public Utilities and Technology Committee gave its OK to a bill that essentially dismantles the 20-year-old Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). As The Salt Lake Tribune reports, the bill, House Bill 477, would strip the legislative intent statement from GRAMA, which states that privacy concerns would be balanced with the public’s right to know; requiring those who appeal a records denial to make the case for disclosure by a “preponderance of the evidence” rather than submitting to a balancing test of the public’s right to know verus privacy concerns; makes text messages, instant-message chats, video chats and voice mails private records; fee waivers would be based on whether it was in the best interest of “taxpayer resources” to do so, rather than whether the person is seeking the records for a public benefit; and would allow for the inclusion of overhead, salary and other costs associated with filling a request; and make much of the Legislature’s paperwork exempt from disclosure.

And those are just a few of the things it does.

Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, ironically identified himself as an advocate of transparency. He claims GRAMA has gone too far and, to bolster his case, he trots out the canard of a constituent e-mailing a legislator to discuss a bill and mentioning as an aside that his child is sick, and the child’s illness being splashed across the front pages of newspapers.
Read the rest here.

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