For those concerned about access to government records in Colorado, the 2022 legislative session was notable for what didn’t happen — the introduction of a bill addressing frustrating issues such as expensive fees, email retention and slow responses by law enforcement agencies.
COVID-19 touched nearly every aspect of our lives in 2020 so of course it affected government transparency and public access to courts in Colorado.
Not only is a $50-per-record research fee not authorized in CORA, the building department’s public records policy makes no mention of providing a free hour to requesters. That is an “unequivocal violation of CORA,” said Steve Zansberg, a First Amendment lawyer and president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition. The department’s justification for its research-and-retrieval fee is “simply lacking in any legal basis,” he added.
A former senior assistant attorney general for Colorado is making a case for a more transparent state system of regulating the legal profession. Comments submitted by Paul Chessin this month to the Colorado Supreme Court call for public disclosure to be “the rule, not the exception.”
We write today to request that you take a few additional actions that we feel would greatly help to ensure journalists throughout the state are best equipped to tell the stories that must be told. Our primary objectives are to keep the public informed, to accurately chronicle the events of this unprecedented period – to write the “first rough draft of history” – and to report on how government officials, local business and civic leaders, and communities are responding.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition joined 131 other transparency-minded organizations in urging state, local and tribal governments across the United States “to recommit to, and not retrench from, their duty to include the public in the policy-making process, including policies relating to COVID-19 as well as the routine ongoing functions of governance.”
At the bill sponsor’s request, a Colorado House committee killed a measure that would have significantly weakened the 2019 state law that opened records on police internal affairs investigations.
A bill in the Colorado legislature threatens to significantly weaken the new state law that opened records on completed police internal affairs investigations.
For those without a LexisNexis login, the courts can be shockingly opaque sometimes.
Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition’s new 30-page “Guide to Colorado’s Open Records and Open Meetings Laws” covers what you need to know about access to information from state agencies and local governments.