Friday, March 4, 2011

Keep Government Transparent and Accountable - Vote No On H.B. 477

Senate Rules Committee Hearing Will Review
H.B. 477, "Government Records Amendments,"
That Would Reduce Transparency In Government

Show your support for open government that is accountable to the people by coming to the hearing this afternoon, Friday, March 4, at 3:00 p.m.
in Room 415 at the State Capitol!
Information about the Senate Rules Committee Hearing >>

Email Senate Rules Committee members listed below and your own Senator.
Ask them to vote no on H.B. 477!

General description of bill:

This bill attempts to erect serious roadblocks to the public’s access to governmental records. Among other provisions, H.B. 477, "Government Records Amendments" would raise costs for the public to access records, create new exceptions to when governmental records have to be released to the public, and exempt a variety of electronic communications from the definition of a “record” under GRAMA, including: (i) voice mails and recordings and transcripts of voicemails; (ii) instant messages, video chat recordings, and text messages, and would generally reduce transparency in government.

Talking Points:

* The bill will would repeal GRAMA’s critical legislative intent section, which for nearly 20 years has provided valuable guidance to government officials, the State Records Committee, and the courts in interpreting and applying GRAMA’s many complex provisions consistent with the Legislature’s expressed intent and declaration of public policy.

* The bill greatly expands the ability of government entities to charge fees and costs for responding to GRAMA requests, and reduces the ability of the news media and public interest requesters to obtain fee waivers. This will seriously inhibit the ability of the public to access documents to which they are entitled.

* The bill broadens several existing GRAMA exceptions and adds others, making a substantial amount of government information that is now public off-limits to the public.

* The bill allows government entities to request an indefinite amount of time in which to respond to certain GRAMA requests, which would have the effect of limiting the public and news media’s access to relevant and timely governmental information.

* This bill would abolish a fundamental principle of GRAMA, which is that access to records should not depend on the physical form of the record, but rather on its content; if the content is related to the public’s business and not otherwise classified as nonpublic, then it should be freely accessible to the public, regardless of whether it is a voice mail, text message or traditional paper record.

* The bill would opt the Legislature out of several key provisions of GRAMA. Allowing the Legislature to opt out of significant portions of GRAMA would violate the very purpose of the law and would raise the prospect of inconsistent rules and public access.

Information about the Senate Rules Committee Hearing >>

Find your Senator >>

Please email committee members and ask them to keep government transparent and accountable and vote no on H.B. 477!

Senate Rules Committee
Sen. Margaret Dayton, Chair -
Sen. D. Chris Buttars -
Sen. Patricia W. Jones -
Sen. Peter C. Knudson -
Sen. Daniel R. Liljenquist -
Sen. Mark B. Madsen -
Sen. Karen Mayne -
Sen. Kevin T. Van Tassell -

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