Countdown: 2 good bills

2On “sine die” Eve, I wanted to talk about two bills that I really like.

SB 157, Government Records Amendments, deals with transparency and access to government records.

It does a couple of things. It modifies the process of appealing the denial of a record request and allows petitioners who were denied by a governmental entity to more easily appeal to the State Records Committee. This will make it easier for petitioners to get their cases heard and not just summarily dismissed.

It also makes certain consumer complaints and responses filed with the Division of Consumer Protection public records. You might remember a recent case where representative from “Truth in Advertising” appeared in Utah to request a copy of complaints made against “Wake Up Now,” now bankrupt. In that case, although there were at least 160 complaints, the Department of Commerce refused to release any records. As a member of the State Records Committee, I was more than a little disappointed¬†at the unwillingness of the Department of Consumer Protection to protect consumers by not making public the complaints they received against bad actors. This legislation fixes that problem and also addresses concerns of frivolous or “non-meritorious” complaints. The bar is set at 50 complaints, with losses of at least $3500. In the case of “Wake Up Now,” that could have made a difference for some of the later investors.

This bill, sponsored by Senator Curt Bramble with Brad Daw as the House sponsor, has passed both bodies and will join the pile of bills on the Governor’s desk.

HB 416 has one of the more unique bill names. It’s “Certain Employees Forfeit of Retirement for Employment Related Offenses” – I guess because the “John Swallow Pension Forfeit Act” was a little too blunt. This bill – run by Dan McCay in the House and Todd Weiler in the Senate – is pretty simple. If you’re convicted of a crime, you lose your state pension. Even if you – ahem – resigned the day you became eligible.

This bill has passed the House but has barely made it to the Senate. It looks like it might die there. Boo.