It’s long overdue for one of the absurd practices of some Colorado government offices to end. Specifically, Senate Bill 17-040 has been proposed in the Colorado General Assembly to close a loophole created by officials and bureaucrats avoiding their responsibilities to provide citizens access to the information which everyone always has agreed is public.
A bill to modernize Colorado’s public records law survived a state House panel in a form closer to the way it was introduced earlier in the legislative session.
With Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature on House Bill 17-1021, Colorado no longer will treat wage-law violations as “trade secrets” that must be kept from the public.
A required “cooling-down period” aimed at resolving open-records disputes without litigation continued its easy journey in the Colorado legislature.
Senate Bill 17-040 is about clarifying the public’s right to obtain digitized government records in useful file formats that make it easier to analyze the information contained in those records. But as passed by the Colorado Senate, the bill is now about other things as well.
The Colorado Senate endorsed a heavily amended version of the open-records modernization bill, adding a broad exemption to bar the disclosure of records that “could endanger public safety or the operation of critical infrastructure.”
State lawmakers moved a step closer to letting the Colorado Division of Labor publicly disclose whether a company has cheated it workers.
A Colorado House committee endorsed a completely reworked proposal to encourage the resolution of open-records disputes without litigation. The new version of HB 17-1177 essentially makes mediation optional.
The open-records modernization bill survived the Senate Appropriations Committee, but lawmakers retained amendments that could let governments withhold some records now available for public inspection.
Emails of public officials are open for inspection under the Colorado Open Records Act, depending on their content. Such messages can reveal important insights into how government decisions are made, but using CORA to obtain emails can be a frustrating and sometimes futile exercise because records-retention policies tend to be vague and discretionary.