Herbert Confident HB 477 Will Be Repealed Friday

(KCPW News) Despite some Republican opposition in the Senate, Utah Governor Gary Herbert is confident lawmakers will vote to repeal HB 477 when they convene for a special session tomorrow. The divisive bill eliminates access to several types of records sent or received by public officials, including text messages and voice mails.

“There is some reticence, I think, in the Senate in particular, and I think they’re going to have that discussion tomorrow, and I think come to the conclusion that it’s best for us to push the reset button and start over,” said Herbert. “I think that’s best for them, best for the legislature, best for the people of Utah.”

The governor insists that given the circumstances, he did the right thing when he originally signed HB 477 into law, because there was a possibility the legislature would have overridden his veto.

However, Herbert said when he first learned of the bill, he called legislative leaders from Washington, DC, and told them he was not comfortable with what they were doing.

“I was surprised when I came back from Washington that they decided to move ahead. I would like to dwell on going forward though, rather than retrospectively, saying, gee, what should we have done differently,” he said. “I think we’re on the right path and we’re going to have the right conclusion, and that’s the most important thing.”

Herbert spoke at his monthly news conference on KUED. A working group made up of lawmakers, media outlets and other organizations held its first meeting earlier this week to come up with a new open records bill. If HB 477 isn’t repealed by the legislature, it’s set to take effect in July.