For the CFOIC, revisiting 2014 reveals a somewhat troubling string of stories about issues and problems affecting government transparency in Colorado. Consider them one by one and you might not be all that concerned. But put them in a list and you could reasonably conclude that open government in the Centennial State is still a work in progress.
Sen. John Kefalas
At least two government entities, the city of Aurora and the state Independent Ethics Commission, have changed their open-records policies in advance of a new law, capping research-and-retrieval charges, that goes into effect July 1.
Fees for public records, protecting the confidential sources of journalists, the Open Meetings Law. These weren’t the topics that grabbed the biggest headlines during the during the 2014 legislative session. But that doesn’t diminish their importance.
Signing the CORA reform bill, standardizing fees that governments in Colorado can charge to fill public records requests, Gov. John Hickenlooper cited President Teddy Roosevelt’s fondness for many of the muckraking journalists of his era.
The House re-passed HB 14-1193, sending it to Gov. John Hickenlooper. If it becomes law, the Colorado Open Records Act will specify research-fee parameters for the first time since it was enacted in 1969.
A revised version of the mug shot bill won initial approval in the Colorado Senate, while state senators also gave a preliminary nod to amended legislation on open-records fees.
An amendment to HB 14-1193 removes the minimum wage requirement and instead caps research and retrieval fees at $30 per hour with a requirement that the first hour be provided for free.
An amendment to be proposed caps the hourly rate at $25 for researching and compiling public records, with the maximum rate adjusted for inflation every five years. More significantly, the first two hours would be free.
Rep. Joe Salazar’s proposed legislation to regulate how much governments can charge for public records has been introduced in the Colorado House as HB 14-1193.