2022 Legislative Updates to GRAMA

Rebekkah Shaw GRAMA, Open Government

In the 2022 session, the Utah Legislature made several updates to the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). Here are the highlights. 

Representative Dan Johnson sponsored House Bill 96 which contains two significant changes. First, it defines a media representative as “a person who requests a record to obtain information for a story or report for publication or broadcast to the general public; and does not include a person who requests a record to obtain information for a blog, podcast, social media account, or other means of mass communication generally available to a member of the public.” This definition is meant to assist governmental entities when assessing fees, which is the other change from HB 96. Governmental entities may charge a fee for the first quarter-hour of staff time spent answering a request if the person is not a media representative, and previously submitted a separate request within the last 10 days. 

Rep Ryan Wilcox sponsored HB 399 which adds certain investigation records to the list of protected records. These are statements government employees provide to the entity as part of an investigation into possible misconduct. The statement must be provided under threat of disciplinary action, including termination. The employee is assured the statement cannot be used in any criminal proceeding. These statements are commonly called “Garrity statements”. This bill also modifies governmental immunity provisions relating to claims for attorney fees and costs under GRAMA.

Senator Kirk Cullimore sponsored Senate Bill 254 which updated security measures in 63G-2-106. This bill also added engineering or architectural drawing of drinking water and wastewater facilities as protected. Records detailing tools or processes used to secure those records are also protected. 

Two other bills added to the list of records classified as private under 63G-2-302. One was HB 248 which adds individual child welfare cases. The other was SB 15 which adds records related to drug or alcohol testing of state employees. 

You may remember a previous session when booking photos were added to protected records under 63G-2-305. HB 406 clarifies that the photos may be shared with potential witnesses or others with knowledge of events relevant to the criminal investigation. 

We will be adding all the updates and a current version of GRAMA to our website here.