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The Utah Legislature is considering two bills that would shield from public view government records of administrative disciplinary actions against individuals.
The Judiciary Interim Committee voted 10-2 Wednesday to advance a bill that provides a way to seal administrative records in state agency files relating to a criminal conviction that has been expunged by the courts.
Under the measure, those records would be sealed and removed from public databases controlled by the agency involved. The agency still could retain the records internally and use them "in any manner consistent" with its procedures such as deciding whether to issue a professional license to someone who previously had had it revoked but could not make the information accessible to the public.
Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, said the bill's intent is to allow defendants who have paid their debt to society to rebuild their lives. Pointing out that some cases involve both administrative disciplinary action and criminal prosecution of the same bad acts, he said people are not able to move forward if the agency record is not expunged along with the court record.
The bill, headed for debate in the 2016 legislative session, "piggybacks" on the process to expunge a criminal conviction, according to Greene.
An expungement petition would cover both court and administrative records. In addition to the prosecutor and the victims, the administrative agency involved would have the opportunity to file an objection. A judge decides whether to grant the petition.
A similar bill passed the Utah House earlier this year but did not make it out of the Senate. That version would have prohibited an agency from sharing the sealed information with other agencies; the current bill says it can, as long as the record is not then made available to the public.
The dissenters on Wednesday were Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, and Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara.
Snow who said his wife's grandmother was victimized buying insurance questioned whether the fact that someone had breached a fiduciary duty should be shielded from people trying to determine whether to do business with them.
Also on Wednesday, the Business and Labor Interim Committee discussed legislation that would require state agencies to remove notices of administrative disciplinary actions such as revocation or suspension of a license from state-controlled public websites no more than 10 years after a final order was issued in the matter.
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, the committee chairman, did not call for a vote on the bill he is sponsoring, saying he wanted members to have time to review the proposal before it is taken up at a future meeting.