SALT LAKE CITY -- The day after Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill changing access to government records, some lawmakers remained concerned about how fast the bill sailed through the Legislature.
Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden, said he voted for the original House Bill 477 on Friday.
But when it was brought back to the House on Monday with an amendment to delay implementation from immediately upon the governor's signing the bill until July 1, Pitcher voted against it.
"I voted for it based on incorrect information that was given to (legislators)," he said Wednesday as he pointed to a blue paper that highlighted problems with the current Government Records Access Management Act.
One of those bulleted points included the statement that 10 GRAMA requests were submitted to legislators when the session began. No date is mentioned, but the session began Jan. 24.
It also states that legislative staff have spent more than 400 hours "the past year" on those GRAMA requests, which Pitcher said concerned him.
Pitcher said the information was distributed to representatives while they were on the floor before the vote Friday.
He said he also received incorrect information that the current GRAMA law does not protect electronic communication.
"As I got into it, I found out that wasn't exactly true," Pitcher said.
He said personal e-mails and texts are protected under the current GRAMA law.
If it came down to whether an e-mail is personal or public record, "I will err on the side of public," Pitcher said.
He said he was also concerned about how fast the bill moved, from when it was first introduced a week ago to Herbert's signature Tuesday.
He is not the only one who has concerns regarding how quickly the bill moved through the Legislature.
"I apologize how fast (HB477) moved," Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said Wednesday during a Senate leadership media availability meeting.
Waddoups said even though HB477 was quickly approved by legislators, changing the implementation date to July 1 will allow the public 90 days to provide input before the bill becomes law.
Waddoups also said he thinks those lawmakers who drafted the bill didn't get it quite right.
"I think the legislators who were involved with this had a good idea as to what they wanted to see in the drafting of (HB477), but I don't think they got everything in there," he said.
For example, Waddoups said, the way HB477 is written, all text messages legislators receive would be considered private records.
"I don't think that was necessarily the legislators' intent," he said. "The intent was, government documents would be public and personal messages would be private."
Waddoups said the private lives of legislators, as well as the private communications from constituents, should be protected.
Constituents who text message or e-mail their lawmakers "need a certain amount of confidence that they won't be embarrassed" by the press on a front page, Waddoups said.
He said the legislation was put on a fast track because, three years ago, when a legislative task force looked at making changes, lobbyists were able to "pick off legislators" and caused them to change their minds.
Senate Minority Whip Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Salt Lake City, said HB477 "has caused quite a stir," and she pointed out that no Democrats voted for the bill "because we believe in open government."
This topic is being discussed at the Weber County Forum.