Opinion: A reasonable update to CORA

Fort Collins Coloradoan: About a year ago, a bill with Fort Collins origins failed in the Colorado Legislature.

You might be thinking, well, that’s nothing new. This session will see more than 700 bills introduced at the Capitol. A fraction of them will become law.

It’s what happened after this specific bill’s failure that was unusual.

The Secretary of State’s Office committed to helping reframe the bill for 2017 so it worked better for those who made public records requests and those in receipt of them.

The idea: If a record is available in digital form, it should be given to a requestor in a “native” format, i.e., some sort of searchable digital format. Today the standard is that it be made available in printed form (and that could be somewhere far from where you live).

The prospect of open records modernization is understandably concerning to government employees working in an office that doesn’t receive requests often or if your office isn’t familiar with excel or other digital formats.

So the Secretary of State created a working group to determine how to create a piece of legislation that updated today’s Colorado Open Records Act — known as CORA, which hasn’t been updated since 1996 — without creating potential for unintentional release of data that is not public (such employees’ Social Security numbers, gender, etc).

I served on the 16-person working group as the representative for the Colorado Press Association, which started to discuss the issue in early summer and wrapped in December.

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