Editorial: Better open records

The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): We’re witnessing a resurgence of the legislative conceit that too much regulation unnecessarily cramps the economy and jobs creation.

The broad theory here is that government gets in the way. Getting government out of the way of business via deregulation, however, has no corollary. Government doesn’t try so hard to get out of the way when the public’s right to know is at stake.

Government to business: You want a permit? Sure, we can expedite that.

Government to citizen: You want information? Now wait just a minute. We have rules for this sort of thing.

In Sunday’s Denver Post Perspective section, Jeffrey Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, explained why Senate Bill 40 is needed to update Colorado’s open-records law for the digital age.

Public records laws are important tools for combating misinformation and getting to the truth. But the state has no obligation to provide electronic records in useful formats that easily lend themselves to analysis.

Senate Bill 40 would change that. The bill requires records custodians to provide records in digital forms if kept that way and requested as such. If a government agency keeps records in an Excel spreadsheet, for example, it should deliver them via open records request in the same format — not paper copies or PDFs, which aren’t searchable, sortable or easy to aggregate.

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