Journalists say Senate Bill 17-040 generally seems to be working as intended, even if some records custodians have to be reminded about the law change and some have taken much longer than three working days to fill requests. The sample size is small, but early tests of the new law are encouraging.
Colorado Open Records Act
Colorado Ethics Watch is closing its doors after 11 years of helping Coloradans hold public officials accountable and winning some significant battles for government transparency in the state legislature and in court.
Wheat Ridge has joined a liquor retailer’s legal effort to stop the owner of another liquor store from sharing information the city provided to him in response to a public records request.
Can documents provided in response to a public records request be clawed back and their use restricted if they may have been disclosed by mistake? That question is central to a court fight involving two Colorado liquor stores, Applejack Wine & Spirits in Wheat Ridge and Hazel’s Beverage World in Boulder.
Now that Senate Bill 17-040 is in effect, ensuring your right under the Colorado Open Records Act to obtain digital public records in useful file formats, the state senator who introduced the legislation is considering an open data bill as the next logical step.
Under the Colorado Open Records Act, “any person” is entitled to inspect public records unless CORA or another state law allows the withholding of those records. If government records are disclosable to the public under the law, they should be made available to anyone who requests them.
It’s been on the books since the state legislature adopted the Colorado Open Records Act nearly a half-century ago: Anyone who “willfully and knowingly” violates the statute is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. But on Aug. 9, when Senate Bill 17-040 goes into effect, the criminal penalty in CORA will disappear.
Ending what Sen. John Kefalas called “the most incredible journey,” Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that modernizes the Colorado Open Records Act by clarifying the public’s right to copies of digital public records.
When Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 17-040, he ratified a long-overdue update to the Colorado Open Records Act, which hadn’t been modernized in more than 20 years. A separate CORA bill signed by Hickenlooper changes the open-records law in a subtler way. Here are some things to know about both measures, which go into effect Aug. 9.
For Coloradans concerned about access to government information, the 2017 legislative session will be judged by what occurred on the 120th and final day.