Utah officials want to hide their calendars from the public. A new bill will do just that.

Posted at 8:43 PM, Feb 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 00:00:15-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Days before media attorneys and the Utah attorney general’s office are set to argue before a judge about whether Attorney General Sean Reyes’ official calendar should be made public, a bill is advancing in the Legislature to make all elected officials’ calendars secret by exempting them from Utah’s public records law.

Sen. Curt Bramble’s bill, SB240, would explicitly make any daily calendar off-limits under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act, whether it belonged to a state, county or local government employee, or any elected official, from the governor down to a city recorder. The bill was made public last week and won unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee at a hearing Tuesday evening, moving to the full Senate for consideration.

“The longstanding practice is that daily calendars are not a record that has to be disclosed,” the Provo Republican told the committee. “For those who believe we’re somehow changing the law, I would proffer to the committee this is clarifying what the longstanding practice and interpretation of the law has been.”

In fact, official calendars have regularly been deemed subject to GRAMA, dating back to the scandal involving former Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow more than a decade ago.

“Public officials do the public’s business, and their daily calendars are the most basic record of how and whether they are doing their jobs,” said Dave Reymann, an attorney for the Utah Media Coalition. “Making all daily calendars secret, as this bill would do, means government would be less transparent and less accountable to the people these officials are supposed to serve.”

As it is currently written, the law says that a “daily calendar or other personal note” is not subject to the records law, but that was interpreted by the records committee to mean that personal entries on calendars can be withheld. Bramble’s bill separates the section before the word “or,” meaning all daily calendars would now be exempt — whether they show personal or official meetings.

Click here to read the full report from The Salt Lake Tribune, a content-sharing partner with FOX 13 News.