Herbert signs repeal of HB477
Gov. Gary Herbert has signed legislation repealing the law that would have restricted public access to some government records and spawned a flood of opposition.
The governor called the Legislature into a special session last Friday to repeal HB477, which passed in just a few days and would have protected text messages, instant messages and video chat from public release. It also would have allowed entities to charge attorneys' fees and other expenses to process requests.
A 25-member working group made up of legislators, media representatives and the public held its second meeting Wednesday to discuss issues related to the state's Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA).
Senate Republicans are pushing for the working group to wrap up its work quickly and want Herbert to call them back into special session this summer to pass revisions to GRAMA.
The governor also signed several spending bills finalizing most of the state's $12 billion budget for the coming fiscal year and another measure that creates an Office of Energy Development that will implement state energy policy. Material gathered by the office from any source may be kept secret.
In addition, Herbert signed a bill that would require future legal settlements paid by the Utah Department of Transportation to be approved by the governor if the deal exceeds $500,000, or by the governor and legislative leaders if it tops $1 million.
The law is a response to a $13 million settlement paid to the losing bidder on a $1.1 billion project to rebuild Interstate 15 through Utah County. The payment was made without the knowledge of Herbert or legislators.