In a year that featured plenty of freedom-of-information lowlights, Colorado lawmakers in 2017 provided a welcome ray of sunshine – a helpful new tool in the never-ending quest for government transparency. Senate Bill 17-040, which modernized the Colorado Open Records Act, was one of many topics featured on CFOIC’s blog and news feed in 2017.
Colorado Legislature 2017
Journalists say Senate Bill 17-040 generally seems to be working as intended, even if some records custodians have to be reminded about the law change and some have taken much longer than three working days to fill requests. The sample size is small, but early tests of the new law are encouraging.
A provision in House Bill 17-1204, signed by the governor in May, will prohibit the public disclosure of a juvenile’s name, birth date or photograph if he or she is charged with a serious crime.
It’s been on the books since the state legislature adopted the Colorado Open Records Act nearly a half-century ago: Anyone who “willfully and knowingly” violates the statute is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. But on Aug. 9, when Senate Bill 17-040 goes into effect, the criminal penalty in CORA will disappear.
By mandating that searchable digital records must be provided in a searchable format and sortable digital records must be produced in a sortable digital form, Colorado joins some 15 other states whose open records laws so require. This huge advance in government transparency certainly deserves celebration.
Ending what Sen. John Kefalas called “the most incredible journey,” Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that modernizes the Colorado Open Records Act by clarifying the public’s right to copies of digital public records.
When Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 17-040, he ratified a long-overdue update to the Colorado Open Records Act, which hadn’t been modernized in more than 20 years. A separate CORA bill signed by Hickenlooper changes the open-records law in a subtler way. Here are some things to know about both measures, which go into effect Aug. 9.
For Coloradans concerned about access to government information, the 2017 legislative session will be judged by what occurred on the 120th and final day.
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.
Legislation to modernize Colorado’s open-records law underwent a significant makeover with little more than a day left in the 2017 session.