(KCPW News) After some back and forth between the two legislative bodies this afternoon, the Utah House and Senate have officially repealed House Bill 477. The divisive law eliminates access to certain electronic records of government officials. Although he voted to repeal the bill, Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins said there are several issues that still need to be addressed in current GRAMA law.
“Everybody’s seeing the workgroup’s going but nothing forces them to look at it again,” Jenkins said. “But the commitment was by everybody and everybody’s calling for repeal and replace. Well nobody’s talking about replace. They’re all talking about repeal.”
The Senate amended the bill to ask for the Governor to call a special session in June, so a replacement bill can be passed. They also wanted the issue to be studied at two interim committee meetings.
However, those amendments were rejected in the House. Representative Eric Hutchings worried the open records issue would be dragged into the redistricting process that starts this summer.
“It it is going to be tough and political and not fun and to have GRAMA be mold into the mix in that somehow,” said Hutchings. “I think we’re just asking for it all over again if we drag this on too long. Let’s do the work. Let’s stay focused on it. Because if it’s really that complicated, let’s just leave it till next session.”
House lawmakers repealed HB 477 on a 60-to-3 vote this afternoon, with the only “no” votes coming from Republicans Curt Webb and Mike Noel, along with Democrat Neal Hendrickson. The Senate repealed the bill on a 19-to-5 vote, with Senate President Michael Waddoups joining four other Republicans in voting “no”. Governor Gary Herbert issued a statement calling it the “first step to restore public confidence.”