Right now, when a government body or committee goes into closed session, the record of what happens behind those closed doors usually is protected from public consumption.
However, Sen. Curt Bramble says those records, either written minutes or a recording of the meeting, should not be protected if it can be proved that public interest outweighs the need to keep them secret.
SB137 provides a path for disclosure of those minutes or recording where none existed before. Bramble says the issue was brought to his attention last year during the site selection effort for the new homeless resource centers in Salt Lake County.
“There wasn’t a statutory way to get the records of what was said in those closed meetings,” said Bramble. “Right now you don’t have access, if it’s a closed meeting, to get anything at all.”
Bramble says if a meeting is closed to discuss a personnel matter, it would be a hard sell to prove that information is in the public’s interest. But, other information should be subject to public scrutiny if it can be proved that the public should know.
“I’m saying let’s open it up if, whoever is the requestor, can meet a clear and convincing standard that the public’s interest outweighs the need to keep it secret. It’s a delicate balancing act,” says Bramble.