An alliance of prominent business people, religious leaders, politicians and others signed a letter that urges the legislature to repeal HB 477 and replace it with something less onerous on Wednesday. The letter that was released after the Sun Advocate went to press for the Thursday edition, took the view that compromise would be the best way to handle the heated situation that passage of the bill generated.
Here is the text of the letter.
The Alliance for Unity (the "Alliance"), a diverse group of Utah business, civic, and religious leaders, today commented on HB 477, which would, in effect, void the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) and exempt the State Legislature from public disclosure of most records. The Alliance noted that Governor Gary Herbert has called for a repeal of the law, for which action he deserves much credit. While recognizing there may be merit in modifying some out-of-date aspects of GRAMA, the Alliance is firmly of the view that the public's business must be done in public. Attempts to deny the public's access to open records are not in the public's interest, regardless of one's political beliefs. Furthermore, such attempts are not in the interest of freedom.
The Alliance noted with approval that a number of prominent Utahns have been appointed to a working group, created by the Governor, to discuss possible revisions of Utah's open-records law. The results of their deliberations hopefully will lead to a repeal of HB 477, and its replacement by legislation which will protect the public's right to know how the public business is conducted, while ensuring the individual's right to privacy.
The letter was signed by Robert Archuleta (community activist), Pamel J. Atkinson (community activist), Elder M. Russel Ballard (The Churche of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Ralph Becker (Salt Lake City mayor), Cynthia Buckingham (Utah Humanities Council) Reverend France A. Davis (Calvary Baptist Church), Spence F. Eccles (Wells Fargo Bank), Jon M. Huntsman (Huntsman Corporation), Norma Matheson (Former first lady of Utah), Alexander B. Morrison (Executive Director), Dinesh Patel (Spring Capital), Harris H. Simmons (Zions Bancorporation), W. Dean Singleton (Publisher, Salt Lake Tribune), Most Reverend John C, Wester (Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City) and Michael K. Young (President, University of Utah).