Wimmer: Repeal HB477 During Special Session

(KCPW News) Republican Representative Carl Wimmer says lawmakers should repeal HB 477 when they meet for a special session this summer, instead of using that time to amend the controversial open records law. Wimmer supported the bill as it soared through the legislature the first time, but voted against it the second time. The lawmaker admits he didn’t realize the impact that it would have on the state’s Government Records Access and Management Act, or GRAMA.

“After the bill had passed I really dug deep into House Bill 477. I looked at our current law.” He says. “I looked at the laws that are outside of Utah, some of the other states and their open-records laws and I realized how draconian our laws would be with 477 on the books.”

The law eliminates text messages, voicemails and instant messages from being public record, even if that message was sent to or from a lawmaker’s government cell phone or email address. Wimmer claims he was once forced to release a personal email from his GMail account, and that’s why he initially supported the bill.

“The current law that allows that private information of a legislator, personal family information of a legislator is open record is wrong.” He says. “My opinion at the time was anything that can push back against the current standard or the status quo was a good thing.”

Other opponents of the bill, however, say elected officials are not required to release personal records. Wimmer says he’s crafting a separate bill that would address the flaws of the current GRAMA law.