There was no need to wait for final adjournment to see that the 2019 Colorado legislative session was a productive one for freedom of information and First Amendment-related issues. Gov. Jared Polis cinched that on April 12, when he signed into law a groundbreaking transparency bill that ensures the public disclosure of records on police internal affairs investigations.
Gov. John Hickenlooper
A bill to stop the required publication of certain county financial information in newspapers, similar to a measure vetoed last year by then-Gov. John Hickenlooper, died quickly in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.
Two words come to mind when looking back at 2018’s government transparency highlights and lowlights in Colorado. Judicial secrecy.
Worried about “reducing transparency” in rural Colorado communities that still lack broadband, Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill that would have phased out the required publication of certain county financial information in newspapers.
Writing that “sunshine on uncomfortable and painful topics such as youth deaths can lead to more positive outcomes for other youths,” Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill that would have closed public access to autopsy reports on minors
Three journalist associations and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition are urging Gov. John Hickenlooper to veto Senate Bill 18-223, which would close public access to autopsy reports on minors.
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.
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.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition honored state Sen. John Kefalas for his work in the legislature to expand Coloradans’ access to public records.
By mandating that searchable digital records must be provided in a searchable format and sortable digital records must be produced in a sortable digital form, Colorado joins some 15 other states whose open records laws so require. This huge advance in government transparency certainly deserves celebration.