Lots, and lots, and lots from FOI Today….

So, it being Friday, I thought I’d collapse them all into a megapost of sorts.

Ken Bunting of the NFOIC takes a big-picture look at the state of play in the Huffington Post — nice to see access getting play in such a general interest site!

Betsy Ross, the patriotically named chair of the Utah State Records Committee, weighs in on HB477 with a bit of an education for the many lawmakers who demonstrated their utter lack of understanding of the law.

The ballot initiative is underway, and there is a nice story here complete with a video (that I can’t get to load) that just has to make your heart swell. This is democracy in action, people! More coverage here of the rally in the Utah statehouse — replete with flashlights!

If you’d like to sign the online petition in solidarity or more importantly, DONATE, go here.

Oh, and while they are at it, Utah’s lawmakers are also going to make it much harder for citizens to engage in initiative efforts aimed at changing laws they don’t like.

From an editorial in the Deseret News:

Thanks to SB165, which now awaits Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature, getting an initiative petition on the ballot will be even harder in the future, and Utah has never been a particularly easy state in that regard.

In a year when people focused on the really egregious assaults on accountable government — such as HB477, which makes virtually all government records secret — the initiative law got little notice. But it’s apparent that the recent petition to force tough new ethics rules on legislators, which came up short but was close enough to force a few new rules, hit home.

Sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, and Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, the bill indirectly increases the number of signatures an initiative would have to gather in order to pass muster. Currently, that number is 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the last governor’s race from at least 26 of the 29 state senate districts. The new rules would change that to 10 percent of those who voted in the presidential race. The difference in numbers is slight. In 2008, it amounted to about 12,000 more votes for president than governor. But Utah held a special election for governor in 2010, and that attracted almost 400,000 fewer voters than the presidential race in 2010. Lawmakers clearly didn’t want anyone taking advantage of a one-time opportunity for an easier path to the ballot.

But the assault on the ethics petitions lies in the part of SB165 that specifically outlaws electronic signatures on petitions, something supporters tried to use. Lump this with HB477, which makes all e-mail and texts by public officials secret, and you have ample evidence Utah lawmakers will have to be dragged screaming into the 21st century, where electronic communications dominate all aspects of life.

Legal Learnings of Democracy for Make Benefit Glorious State of Utah!




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