Three journalist associations and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition are urging Gov. John Hickenlooper to veto Senate Bill 18-223, which would close public access to autopsy reports on minors.
Unlike a year ago, when state lawmakers improved access to public records, the 2018 session of the Colorado General Assembly was marked by the passage of legislation that will significantly hinder the public’s right to know if it’s signed into law.
Geoff Wilson, former attorney and lobbyist for the Colorado Municipal League, was awarded the Sue O’Brien Award for Public Service for his continuing support of the principles of transparency and open government.
With little discussion in public, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission formally enacted records access rules that mostly mirror the Colorado Open Records Act but also assert the commission’s authority to “adopt a public records policy that deviates from CORA.”
Colorado lawmakers are poised to close public access to autopsy reports on minors, bowing to a request from county coroners who say disclosure of the records unnecessarily invades the privacy of families and encourages copycat teen suicides.
A legislative effort to open records on police internal affairs investigations, or at least encourage their disclosure to the public, died when the Senate sponsor of the bill had it killed in committee.
An amended bill endorsed by the Colorado House no longer opens records on police internal affairs files, but essentially encourages their disclosure once an investigation is complete.
Aurora has agreed to revise its policies on the disclosure of police internal affairs records as part of a lawsuit settlement, but a new court case alleges the city wrongly withheld body-worn camera footage related to a traffic accident involving Denver Police Chief Robert White.
A bill to require public disclosure of police internal affairs records cleared its first legislative hurdle on a 7-4 vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
Colorado would join a dozen other states that require public disclosure of internal records on police misconduct under legislation introduced in the House.