SALT LAKE CITY -- "Veto!" "Veto!" "Veto!"
Demonstrators chanted outside the governor's office Tuesday urging Gov. Gary Herbert to veto House Bill 477, which changes the Government Records Access Management Act.
Despite the vocal protest, Herbert signed the bill later Tuesday. In a statement from Herbert's office, the governor said, "With HB477 now amended, the delayed implementation date allows us to have an open public process with robust, deliberate engagement by the public, the media and lawmakers."
Lawmakers have said they will hold a special session so they can discuss the bill and possible changes with the public and media.
Rally organizers told those in attendance to visit their legislators and ask them why they voted for the bill. They also told participants to walk into the governor's office and ask him to veto the bill.
HB477, sponsored by Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork, and Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, was recalled Monday and amended to make the start date July 1, instead of as soon as Gov. Gary Herbert signs the legislation.
The bill defines e-mails, text messages and voice mails to and from legislators as private communications and opts out the Legislature in several areas.
The bill would also raise fees for requests that are deemed "voluminous" and would allow state agencies more time before handing over requested public documents.
Kim Burningham, of Bountiful, chairman of Utahns for Ethical Government, spoke to the 150 demonstrators. He is also a member of the Utah Board of Education, but was not speaking on behalf of that organization.
Utahns for Ethical Government does "not understand why the Legislature, in such haste, passed the bill in the first place," Burningham said. "We believe it would have the negative effect of considerably reducing transparency in government. The bill severely restricts public access to legislative information."
The speed with which the bill went through the Legislature, allowing little time for public dialogue, is a concern, Burningham said.
Even though the bill was recalled and the effective date extended, that's not good enough, he said. It should be vetoed.
Lorna Rosenstein, of Layton, one of the rally organizers, agreed that changing the effective date is inadequate.
"This bill should be vetoed and never see the light of day," Rosenstein said to cheers. "This is a government for the people, by the people."
Rosenstein said another rally is planned for 6 p.m. on Thursday at the fountain in the middle of the Capitol complex.
Those who attend are asked to bring flashlights, "so we can shine some light on this government," Rosenstein said.
Pat Rusk, former president of the Utah Education Association, said she was on the other side of GRAMA.
After the voucher bill was passed, she received a GRAMA request from an organization that opposed her stand on the issue. They wanted all of her e-mails on her school computer to check that she wasn't campaigning while she was teaching.
"I said, 'Bring it on,' " Rusk said. "I have nothing to hide."
Allioyah Uribe, 10, of Herriman, held a sign that said, "Grama may be old, but she has a voice."
Uribe said she is concerned about the bill because it will allow lawmakers to "hide things. If I spend a dollar on candy, I pay taxes on that and those taxes pay for their cell phones, computers and for their jobs. I should know what they're doing."
Bob Van Velkinburgh, of Syracuse, said, "It's got to be vetoed. No tweaking on that sucker. We need to kill that turkey."
Van Velkinburgh said if Herbert vetoes the bill, "he's for the people. But if he doesn't (veto) the legislators and (the governor) wins."