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Weeks after helping to launch a public outcry over a bill that made sweeping changes to Utah's open records law, Bob Aagard had reason to cheer Friday.

"I never expected us to get this far, this fast," said Aagard as he gathered with about 50 other Utahns at the Capitol to celebrate as the Utah Legislature repealed HB477.

Late Friday afternoon, the Utah House and Senate both approved a bill that repeals HB477, but not before harshly criticizing the media for being deaf to privacy concerns and going "over the top" in opposing changes to the Government Records Access and Management Act.

But opposition to HB477 was wide and deep, Aagard said. "I think the Legislature thought it would be able to pass it and all the noise would be over in a couple of days."

Instead, he and other activists vowed to keep the pressure on lawmakers to keep access open and government transparent.

"Today, we achieved our goal," said Quan "Q" Dang, website manager for, which led a petition drive to repeal HB477 that is now moot. "We escaped the black hole — for now."

Janalee Tobias, another founder, said she's been involved in a number of causes in the past, particularly to do with gun rights, but this is the "greatest energy I've ever felt."

Added Nancy Lord, another organizer of "Without that pressure of the referendum, I don't believe this would have happened today."

Dana Thatcher of Holladay said it was the Legislature that had gone too far with HB477. She's never used GRAMA and, until Friday, had never participated in a public rally.

"It's one more ridiculous thing they've come up with," she said. "It's information, and if we don't have information, we can't make decisions."

Elise Lazar, a long-time activist for various causes, said passage of HB477 reflected a "new level of arrogance" on the part of legislators who "no longer see their role as public servants."

"They have made a grave mistake because they have awakened a public that has been too trusting for too long. The public will never go back," she said. "They are going to be watched in a way they've never experienced before, and it's going to show in the next election period."

"They must listen to a public that is now informed, engaged and showing up or they will be out," Lazar said.

Claire Geddes, another long-time activist, said: "We're seeing the power of the people."

At least one lawmaker welcomes the scrutiny. During a House caucus, Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, gestured to rally participants crowded into the meeting room and said, "This is outstanding. This is what we are." Green Hole Award for Herbert

Lisa Tobias, who works for a recycling center in Logan and is on the Utah State University sustainability council, gave Utah Gov. Gary Herbert a "Green hole" award — a wreath made of plastic soda bottles — during Friday's rally for signing a bill that disallows electronic signatures on petition initiatives.

Tobias said requiring signatures on paper petitions is environmentally wasteful because it will take 60 boxes of paper to collect the nearly 100,000 petitions now required.