The 2021 Colorado legislative session produced a mixed bag of good and not-so-good developments for those concerned about government transparency.
Colorado Legislature 2021
One change will impact the release of body-worn and dashboard camera footage, and another might help mitigate the loss of public information caused by the encryption of police radio transmissions. Two additional provisions address public access to records of completed police internal affairs investigations and lists of officers who have credibility issues.
Homeowners’ associations could not ban signs and flags based on their content or message under a bill making its way through the Colorado General Assembly.
A bill that lets public bodies in Colorado disclose just one finalist when choosing a new chief executive officer such as a school superintendent, a university president or a city manager will become law without the signature of Gov. Jared Polis.
State representatives inserted a provision addressing police radio encryption into a law-enforcement accountability measure that builds on the major police reform bill passed in 2020.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition sent a letter to Gov. Jared Polis, requesting a veto of House Bill 21-1051, which would allow state and local public bodies to disclose just one finalist for chief executive officer positions.
Like most other government bodies, special district boards in Colorado have met over Zoom or some other video-conferencing platform during much of the COVID-19 pandemic. But they’ve done so, state lawmakers were told, not knowing for sure whether state law permitted their virtual meetings.
Legislation creating an online media-literacy resource bank for Colorado public schools appears close to passing the General Assembly over the objections of some Republicans who say the measure is a governmental intrusion on free speech.
A Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in the Boulder Daily Camera’s lawsuit against the University of Colorado regents sets “a dangerous precedent that deprives the public of any meaningful oversight and input into the selection process of a public body’s chief executive,” says a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and 12 other organizations.
State legislation designed to reduce collateral consequences for people with criminal records would hinder the ability of news organizations to identify systemic problems in the criminal justice system and hold public officials accountable, journalists told Colorado lawmakers.