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Opinion: HB477 could have had many negative consequences

March 30th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Storee Powell

The recent repeal of HB477, the controversial 2011 Utah Legislative bill that rewrote the Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA), is perhaps more of a relief than Utah knows.

“I think there are a lot of unintended consequences from HB 477, and the legislators just don’t care,” said Penny Byrne, media law and broadcasting professor at Utah State University. “The fact they will be restricting research is not their concern, and that bothers me very much.

“It should bother citizens a great deal. I think a short-term intention of this was the ‘get Matheson act,’”Byrne said.

Was HB477 created to help redraw congressional districts to get rid of Democrats like Jim Matheson of District 2? Some suspect government is always looking for ways to be more secretive. HB477 certainly would have allowed for that. But is the idea of a conspiracy behind HB477 too far-fetched? Does it give Legislators too much credit for conceiving such a plan? Connect the dots with a red pen, and it seems more than plausible, but perhaps intentional.

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