High fees block public’s access to records

Why should the public have to pay twice for access to its own records?

That’s the question posed in a new research paper prepared for the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.

A 2014 amendment to the Colorado Open Records Act capped the cost governmental entities could charge for reviewing and redacting requested records, but the result has been the public often is still being charged the maximum fees allowed.

“Six years later, it is clear that CORA’s fee provision can be used to make public records so cost prohibitive they effectively are off limits to the public,” the paper states.

Colorado open government advocates are pushing the state Legislature for reforms. One proposal is for Colorado to follow the lead of Ohio and West Virginia, which operate under the premise that government entities should not charge fees to the public for accessing its records. Another example the paper cites is Illinois, which charges only for commercial or voluminous requests, treating news organizations as non-commercial and in the public interest.

Read more at Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.