One of last year's nastiest legislative wars barely made a blip on the radar this session altering Utah's open records law, the Government Records Access and Management Act.
Last year, the Legislature initially gutted much of GRAMA through quick passage of HB477 shortly after unveiling it, which led to huge public protests and angry editorials. Under pressure, the Legislature made the unusual move to repeal that law and set up a working group to review any needed changes during the year.
A bill resulting from that review, SB177, was so non-controversial that no public witness testified on it in a House committee hearing. No one voted against it in the House or Senate.
The bill includes language to make clear that in balancing tests on whether a record should be disclosed or kept private, "a tie goes to disclosure," said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, sponsor of the bill.
It would create online training for public-records officers statewide and an ombudsman to help the public file GRAMA requests. It also clarifies that public records include those communications by public officials that are made as part of their official duties or while doing public business.
Bramble said SB177 and the working group crafted a way "to re-establish trust with the public that we do support open government."