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Green Hole Rally: e-signatures and HB477

by Jesse Fruhwirth
- Posted // 2011-03-24 -

Gov. Gary Herbert will be presented with another award tomorrow at a planned HB 477 rally. Organizers say a Green Hole Award will credit Herbert for wasting paper in the HB477 referendum campaign because he signed a law--SB 165--that banned e-signatures.

The Legislature will reconvene tomorrow at noon in a special session to consider repealing HB 477, a law wildly unpopular with Utahns that restricts public access to government documents. Repeal is anything but certain. Sen. President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said the repeal effort will be halted in the senate but opponents of the law--which goes into effect July 1--are hoping for repeal nevertheless.

SB 165 explicitly eliminates e-signatures from referendum campaigns, like the ongoing campaign to have a ballot measure ask Utahns if HB 477 should be repealed.

The last successful referendum campaign concluded in the 2007 election when voters eliminated a school voucher program that the Legislature passed despite public opinion polls that showed the majority of Utahns opposed the voucher system.

For continuing coverage of HB 477--and its repeal(?)--go to,
CityWeekly.net/HB477

The rules for citizens to place items on the ballot for public vote were changed during the 2010 Legislative session just as two vigorous campaigns sought to limit the powers of the legislature (a citizen-led ethics agenda, and also creating an independent redistricting body). Currently, Utahns for Ethical Government is suing the state over the rules, which they say violate Utah's constitutional guarantee of direct implementation of law by popular vote of the people. Even before the new rules implemented in the 2011 Legislature, the executive director of the Utah Fair Boundaries as well as the Deseret News editorial board said the referendum process had become so difficult as to be unconstitutional.

The Green Hole Award for Gov. Herbert will be presented by students from Utah State University. In a press release, Lisa Tobias says "[Herbert] receives this award because he signed SB 165 into law which outlaws E-signatures. Because of this, literally tons of paper are being used. HB 477 referendum petitioners have said they have printed 6,000 packets of signature sheets. Each packet has 50 pages, which equals a total of 3,000 pounds of paper and the equivalent of about 39 trees."

The Green Hole Award takes its name from another prize Herbert won this month: the national Society of Professional Journalists first-ever national Black Hole award, given to the governor and the Legislature in recognition of their contributions to government secrecy.

Repeal Don't Replace HB 477 Rally
Utah State Capitol Rotunda
Friday March 25, 11 a.m.

For more information or to confirm attendance, click here.

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