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.
Colorado Legislature 2014
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.
The Arvada resident who sued his city for using secret ballots to fill a vacant council seat has appealed a judge’s ruling that he lacked legal standing to challenge Arvada for violating Colorado’s Open Meetings Law.
A committee of state lawmakers finalized the “Blue Book” wording that explains Proposition 104, a statewide ballot initiative that would require school boards in Colorado to let the public observe collective bargaining negotiations. One aspect of the proposal that remains murky, however, is whether it would require school boards to discuss their negotiation strategies in public.
Colorado’s Sunshine Law defines a meeting as “any kind of gathering, convened to discuss public business, in person, by telephone, electronically, or by (any) other means of communication.” This includes emailing, texting, tweeting, instant messaging, Facebook messaging, Snapchatting and forms of communication that haven’t been invented yet.
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.
Proponents are circulating petitions for Initiative 124, which would expand Colorado’s Sunshine Law by requiring school boards to let the public observe collective bargaining negotiations.