An 18-month push to update Colorado’s open-records law for the digital age culminated in the final passage of a bill that clarifies the public’s right to copies of electronic government records in useful file formats that permit analysis of information in those records.
More than five months after her initial request, Marilyn Flachman is finally getting the employee salary information she requested from the Westminster school district. It took four CORA letters, assistance from an attorney and $745.
The Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act isn’t as well known or as well understood as its sister statute, the Colorado Open Records Act. That’s why the CFOIC assembled a panel of experts to discuss the law that governs the release of criminal justice records – and to provide tips and workarounds for getting the records you want.
For the CFOIC, revisiting 2014 reveals a somewhat troubling string of stories about issues and problems affecting government transparency in Colorado. Consider them one by one and you might not be all that concerned. But put them in a list and you could reasonably conclude that open government in the Centennial State is still a work in progress.
Public records aren’t supposed to be prohibitively expensive – that was the goal of a new state law capping research-and-retrieval fees. So we were surprised to see a $2,440 estimate to review records from a special district in Falcon.
A 2013 report illustrated the confusing and expensive landscape of “research and retrieval” fees charged to CORA requestors by various state, county and municipal government entities. One year later, Colorado Ethics Watch and CFOIC have revisited those same government entities to see if things have improved.
A month after a new statewide cap on public records fees went into effect, many governments and agencies in Colorado have adjusted their records policies to comply with the revised statute. But several have yet to post policies that conform to the provisions of HB 14-1193, even though the bill was signed by the governor in early May.
In a six-minute video, First Amendment attorney and CFOIC President Steve Zansberg explains what you need to know about the new CORA fees law and what to do if you think you’re being charged too much for public records.
At least two government entities, the city of Aurora and the state Independent Ethics Commission, have changed their open-records policies in advance of a new law, capping research-and-retrieval charges, that goes into effect July 1.
Fees for public records, protecting the confidential sources of journalists, the Open Meetings Law. These weren’t the topics that grabbed the biggest headlines during the during the 2014 legislative session. But that doesn’t diminish their importance.