Unlike a year ago, when state lawmakers improved access to public records, the 2018 session of the Colorado General Assembly was marked by the passage of legislation that will significantly hinder the public’s right to know if it’s signed into law.
Colorado Open Records Act
With little discussion in public, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission formally enacted records access rules that mostly mirror the Colorado Open Records Act but also assert the commission’s authority to “adopt a public records policy that deviates from CORA.”
Colorado lawmakers are poised to close public access to autopsy reports on minors, bowing to a request from county coroners who say disclosure of the records unnecessarily invades the privacy of families and encourages copycat teen suicides.
Aurora has agreed to revise its policies on the disclosure of police internal affairs records as part of a lawsuit settlement, but a new court case alleges the city wrongly withheld body-worn camera footage related to a traffic accident involving Denver Police Chief Robert White.
State lawmakers took action to close public access to autopsy reports on the deaths of minors, approving a bill requested by county coroners who say they’re concerned about the privacy of families of children who have died.
The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission has substantially revised its proposed records access rules in response to criticism from news media organizations, citizens and the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.
The city says the Denver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Exploratory Committee, formed by Mayor Michael Hancock, is not bound by the Colorado Open Meetings Law and, therefore, it can meet however it sees fit. But there is a solid legal argument that the state’s open meetings law indeed does apply to the Winter Olympics exploratory committee. And if that’s the case, the public should be notified of all meetings and the committee should bar the public from attending only under the limited circumstances allowed by the law.
After trying for three years to make the state judicial branch subject to the Colorado Open Records Act, Rep. Polly Lawrence finally notched a victory when a legislative committee passed an extremely limited version of her perennial bill.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition honored state Sen. John Kefalas for his work in the legislature to expand Coloradans’ access to public records.
For the third consecutive year, a committee of lawmakers discussed whether the administrative records of the state’s judicial branch should be subject to the Colorado Open Records Act. This time, the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee didn’t kill Rep. Polly Lawrence’s proposal as it did in 2016 and 2017. At least not yet.