Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2013 Legislative Session - Week Four Update

As promised we have more information on H.B. 43, Campaign Finance Reporting by Corporations, in the House. Last week H.B. 43 passed out of committee. As we previously discussed, H.B. 43 has very serious implications as it would lead to less transparency in the political process, while jeopardizing the privacy of individual citizens. As of Monday afternoon of this week, H.B. 43 passed out of the House, in spite of some very pertinent concerns raised during debate. Some of the key concerns raised during the floor debate included; the fact that the bill would chill First Amendment speech for smaller organizations, without sophisticated legal teams, the inevitable formation of countless new "shell corporations" that complicate and obscure the political process, and finally the idea that people exercising their most basic rights will now be subject to retaliation and intimidation. As we have previously reported, we are extremely concerned about the damage this bill could do to our political process in Utah, because of all of these unintended consequences and more. As the bill moves forward, we will be fully engaged with senators to avert the kind of damage that would come with passage of H.B. 43. (Read the ACLU of Utah's talking points on H.B. 43)

Also in the House, H.B. 127, Motor Vehicle Event Data Recorders,  regarding event data recorders in motor vehicles was passed out of committee. We are particularly interested in the bill because of the potential privacy implications "black box" data recorders can have. H.B. 127 establishes that the owner of the vehicle is the legal owner of the black box and information contained in it. The bill also places restrictions on how and when data can be retrieved in the event of an accident. As with all privacy and due process issues, the details surrounding this bill are complex and we are keeping a close eye it to ensure that your rights are not inadvertently jeopardized.

Finally, in the Senate, S.B. 77, Availability of Government Information, is being considered. The bill is being sponsored by Senator Henderson and would amend guidelines regarding the posting of meeting minutes from legislative hearings within a set timeframe. The primary change dictates that meeting minutes must be made available to the public "within seven business days" of the meeting. This is an improvement over the old language that only required minutes to be provided "within a reasonable time". This is a welcome change and will hopefully improve government transparency and accountability.

As always, check in next week to find out how key issues such as H.B. 43 and others unfold over the coming days.

No comments:

Post a Comment