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Rolly: Signature aside, Republicans say Herbert threw them under bus

Published March 9, 2011 8:21 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gov. Gary Herbert isn't a real popular guy right now with the House Republican caucus, whose members are telling me he threw them under the bus.

Several caucus members say House leadership met with Herbert last week to advise him on the plan to revamp the state's records laws, exempting certain types of government communications from public scrutiny and making it more difficult to obtain other records.

They say Herbert was unabashedly supportive of the effort.

Then, when the Legislature brought the bill, HB477, forward and passed it in warp-speed fashion, the horse-feathers hit the fan and Herbert changed course.

Sources close to the governor, however, say there is a misunderstanding. Herbert was leaving for D.C. to testify before two congressional committees when the idea was first proffered to him, and he was not given all the details.

The more he learned, sources say, the more uncomfortable he became.

It wasn't until the bill had passed that caucus members learned they did not have Herbert's support unless the effective date was changed to July to give sides a chance to negotiate its controversial aspects.

That's when a number of legislators changed their minds Monday about whether it was such a good idea passing the bill the way they did, making the legislators look like the flip-floppers and ensuring that any of their children born in the near future will not be named Gary.

On Tuesday night, Herbert signed HB477 into law, now amended to take effect July 1.

The ugly side of politics — One of the most controversial provisions of the government records bill is exempting legislators' text messages, so the public cannot see those communications.

That means a vicious onslaught of threats aimed at House members Friday would never see the light of day, unless, of course, members chose to share them.

When the House was voting on HB116, Rep. Bill Wright's guest-worker bill, several members of the "912" group, best described as Utah's version of the Westboro Baptist Church, sent a flurry of text messages from their seats in the gallery threatening to destroy the political careers of the legislators who voted for the bill.

To the House Republicans' credit, they passed the bill. But not before Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, stood up and confronted the anonymous texters in the gallery, shaming them for their tactics.

Speaking of texting — House members likely wouldn't want to share the text messages they received Monday when they were voting on HB339, a bill backed by Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) that would authorize expanding charter school enrollment capacity each year.

The bill was defeated on a 37-37 vote (it needed 38 to pass), but members of PCE and the Eagle Forum were in the gallery busily texting their lawmakers.

Fifteen minutes later, there was a motion on the floor to reconsider the vote. So it came up again and, voilĂ , it passed 47-27, with 10 Republican lawmakers changing their vote.

There should be something in their stockings next Christmas.

Public-private partnership? — Republican state delegates received prerecorded robo-calls Tuesday urging them to oppose the comprehensive immigration bill that is being considered at the Legislature as a compromise between the Senate and the House.

The calls were made on behalf of the American Leadership Fund, the political action committee run by conservative activist and 2010 GOP Senate candidate Cherilyn Eagar.

On caller ID, the number came up as coming from the Governor's Office. The governor, his spokesperson said, knows nothing about the calls. And I have learned that calls from state government offices often display that number. But still, they came from a state government office.







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