Editorial: Amendment could doom open records improvement

Reporter-Herald (Loveland): Colorado needs to bring its open records practices into the 21st century, but that’s looking unlikely this year. Too bad.

Senate Bill 40, which this editorial board supported about a month ago, would require that any public record kept in a digital format be released in that format when a citizen requests it.

Now, however, the addition of an amendment — presented by State Affairs Committee Chairman Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction — might prevent this common-sense bill from becoming law.

That amendment would require the judicial branch to comply with the Colorado Open Records Act. While that change is smart and ultimately necessary for Colorado, it sends SB 40 off course by introducing an open records rewrite that already failed in committee last month.

The state’s judicial branch should be subject to open records rules similar to those that cover other branches and agencies, to address deficits such as vendor contracts being kept secret. Courts spend tax dollars just like other state branches and agencies, and they should be accountable to their bosses, Colorado taxpayers.

Just last month, however, Democrats on the House State Affairs Committee, fearful that it ran counter to the separation of powers, shut down an attempt to adopt more mainstream open records rules for the state’s judiciary.

It seems really unlikely that Senate Bill 40 can now be the vehicle for getting this judiciary change through the Colorado Legislature.

Visit Reporter-Herald for more.

Subscribe to Our Blog