A district court ruling against four Douglas County school board members doesn’t affect other government boards, councils and commissions, but it could persuade judges who examine similar cases concerning the legality of serial or daisy-chain meetings under the state’s open meetings law.
Open Meetings Laws
Concerned the measure would “act as an impediment to legitimate challenges to open meetings,” Gov. Jared Polis vetoed a heavily amended bill that would have barred pro se litigants who sue over executive sessions from collecting legal fees if they prevailed in court.
A district court judge made “egregious” errors last year in deciding that Colorado’s Sunshine Law did not require members of an elected town board to discuss the censure of a fellow board member in an open meeting, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition contends in a brief submitted to the Court of Appeals.
Despite a looming inflationary increase in fees, state lawmakers in the 2023 legislative session never addressed the often-high cost of obtaining public records in Colorado but did vote to eliminate some nagging obstacles for users of the Colorado Open Records Act.
Movimiento Poder, a grassroots advocacy organization of Denver parents and students, asked to join in a lawsuit six news organizations filed against Denver Public Schools last week seeking the recording of a five-hour board of education executive session held the day after a shooting at East High School.
Promising to keep working to improve access to state-and-local government for people with disabilities, a lawmaker requested the defeat of his own bill to mandate the livestreaming of public body meetings and make other changes to help all Coloradans participate in democracy more fully and equally.
State senators rewrote an open meetings bill, leaving only a provision that bars pro se litigants who challenge the legality of executive sessions from collecting court costs and attorney fees if they prevail in court.
Legislators defeated a CORA bill amendment, proposed by Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, aimed at opening records on the Democrats’ use of a secret survey to help decide the fate of bills requiring state funding.
An open meetings bill in the Colorado legislature no longer requires plaintiffs to pay the court costs and attorney fees of local government bodies they unsuccessfully sue over executive session announcements.
As amended by the Colorado House, an open meetings bill still significantly weakens Coloradans’ ability to enforce a 22-year-old provision in the Sunshine Law requiring school boards and other local public bodies to announce the topics of closed-door meetings with some specificity.