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Utah public-records bill edges toward law

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  1. Freedom of Information
Utah state senators voted Monday in favor of legislation sealing public records that are either being used in an open investigation or could be…

Utah state senators voted Monday in favor of legislation sealing public records that are either being used in an open investigation or could be used in an active lawsuit, The Deseret News reports.

The newspaper highlights one noteworthy change H.B. 122 would make to the Government Records Access and Management Act: Allowing an agency to withhold investigatory information to protect the "life or safety" of someone involved in a probe, unless the requester can show by "clear and convincing" evidence that the public’s need for disclosure overwhelms other interests.

One lawmaker said the change is needed, according to the paper, because "groups and individuals were increasingly using GRAMA provisions to ‘circumvent well established rules of discovery.’" The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the bill is the product of negotiations among local media representatives, law enforcement officials and others. Some provisions have yet to be hammered out; the bill, along with its Senate amendments, still needs final approval in the House.