State Records Committee News

Rosemary Cundiff GRAMA, Open Government, Records Access, State Records Committee

Patricia Smith-Mansfield

Patricia Smith-Mansfield, who served as the Governor’s designee on the State Records Committee for 14 years while she was director of Utah State Archives and Records Service, is back on the Committee. Now she is a citizen representative. Tricia, welcome back! Tricia’s years of experience, and knowledge of records law are valuable assets for the Committee.

The State Records Committee has had a busy summer with catching up on postponed hearings due to a cancelled meeting in May. A hearing decision highlight for this summer includes a determination that the Department of Corrections (UDC) halfway houses are  correctional facilities and, therefore, the rights of individuals housed in them are limited. In a hearing involving Jeremy Flygare and the Department of Corrections, the definition of “confined” was a pressing issue. Individuals who are confined in a jail or other correctional facility, following the individual’s conviction, are limited to five requests per calendar year, where the individual specifically is referenced in the record requested. (See Utah Code §63G-2-201(9)) The decision at hand required the Committee to determine whether the statute applies to individuals who have achieved parole status and are living at a halfway house. The Committee determined that UDC’s halfway houses are non-secure facilities, so the five requests/records per calendar year provision applies.

Last month, in a hearing involving the Utah Rivers Council and Kane County Water Conservancy District (KCWCD), the Committee was asked to determine whether KCWCD’s denial of the Rivers Council’s request for a fee waiver was unreasonable. In this case, the Committee determined that because the assessed fee included payment for a government employee to search for records in personal email accounts, the fee was unreasonable. Governmental entities cannot charge for such searches. The Committee was also persuaded that the fee should be waived because there is a significant public interest in the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline, which was the subject of the requested records.

The next State Records Committee meeting will be this Thursday, September 13 at the State Archives building. The public is welcome to attend.