HURRICANE – Representative Brad Last (R-Hurricane), spoke today to Southern Utahns about how HB477 has been dominating much of the media and subsequent conversations.
The Hurricane Valley Clinic held its quarterly Health and Wellness Advocates Breakfast Thursday morning and the better part of that meeting was spent listening to Last articulate his position on the bill.
It is worth noting that, in fact, it was he who first brought the bill up. While some health awareness issues were discussed, the meeting was in fact dominated by discussion of the controversial bill.
Terri Draper, Communications Director for Intermountain Healthcare, said the purpose of the meeting was to, “Raise awareness to health care issues.”
Last is serving his 9th session in the State Legislature and said, “This has been the strangest session by far.”
A week ago, The Spectrum reported that unlike some 17 of his colleagues at the Capitol, the Representative believes the original legislation was appropriate. He said that the bill has been 2 or 3 years in the works and that even with that amount of time in preparation, there was, “No way to roll this bill out that was reasonable to the press.”
Last went on to say opposition to the bill may be coming from an uniformed public as to the actual nature and details of the bill.
One person in the audience said that while he did not support the bill, calling it a poor piece of legislation, he would remain true in judging Last’s performance in total and not just by this bill.
This is what Last is perhaps hoping for.
Last said: “Was it the right way to handle it? I don’t know. But we take our shots and move on. If we mess something up, we can come back next year and fix it.”
Last seemed intent on getting across the point that he believed it was the journalistic community who was the largest opposition to the bill.
In fact, yesterday the Society of Professional Journalists awarded the Utah Legislature the “Black Hole Award”, saying that when the bill becomes law, the Beehive State will be by far the most secretive in the nation.
Last’s contention is that the bill is needed to protect the personal lives and correspondence of elected officials in Utah.
He said that official legislative correspondence should be available to the public but personal correspondence should not and believes this bill insures just that.
Last said the move to extend the bill’s effective date was in effect a “concession” requested by the Governor to curtail some of the backlash he would inevitably receive after signing it into law last week.
Last encourages people to read the bill before rendering judgment but no amount of explanation after the fact can help him to evade the fact that a large portion of the populous finds this bill, and the manner with which it was passed, disconcerting and are in sore need of answers.
Prior to this law, it was incumbent upon the government to demonstrate why a given record should not be public. With its passing, it will be upon the public to prove otherwise.
It appears HB477 will continue to be a dominating theme of conversation in Utah.