CFOIC: ‘Modest approach’ to CORA modernization wins House approval

Legislation to modernize Colorado’s open-records law underwent a significant makeover Tuesday night with a little more than a day left in the 2017 session.

The Colorado House gave preliminary approval to a completely reworked, shorter version of Senate Bill 17-040 designed to satisfy both records requesters and the government entities that have opposed the measure.

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Colorado Governor signs bill requiring ‘cooling-off period’ for CORA disputes

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation Thursday that requires a “cooling-off period” when open-records disputes reach the point where litigation is being considered.

With House Bill 17-1177, someone who is denied records under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) must wait 14 days to challenge the denial in court. During that time, the records custodian for a government entity must speak with the requester in person or by phone in an attempt to resolve the matter.

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From CFOIC: Legislation would change availability of public information on juveniles charged as adults

But if a bill under consideration in the Colorado legislature had been in effect, arrest records showing the names of the juveniles would not have been released – not then and perhaps not for several months.

Under House Bill 17-1204, a judge would have to order a juvenile be charged as an adult to trigger the public release of all currently available arrest and criminal records in such cases. A judge makes that decision after a reverse transfer hearing, in which youths who are “direct filed” in adult court ask to have their cases sent to juvenile court.

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CoFOIC: Political dark money bills approved by Colorado House committee

A House committee this week approved two bills intended to shine light on political dark money in Colorado.

House Bill 17-1261 would require that anyone spending $1,000 or more in a year on electioneering communications include “paid for” disclosures in those ads. House Bill 17-1262 would close a reporting gap so that spending information on electioneering communications is available throughout a campaign season.

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CFOIC: Colorado Senate passes digital open-records bill, adds exemption for ‘critical infrastructure’

The Colorado Senate endorsed a heavily amended version of the open-records modernization bill Tuesday evening, adding a broad exemption to bar the disclosure of records that “could endanger public safety or the operation of critical infrastructure.”

The new provision in SB 17-040, requested by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, would exclude such data from the definition of public records in the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).

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Colorado FOIC – A $6,750 deposit to search the city clerk’s emails? Records retention an issue for small governments

Emails of public officials are open for inspection under the Colorado Open Records Act, depending on their content. Such messages can reveal important insights into how government decisions are made, but using CORA to obtain emails can be a frustrating and sometimes futile exercise because records-retention policies tend to be vague and discretionary.

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From CFOIC: House committee unanimously endorses bill to open records on wage-law violations

A wage-theft transparency measure that died in the Colorado legislature last year passed unanimously Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee.

The amended version of HB 17-1021 is identical to a proposal that earned bipartisan House support in 2016 but was killed in a Senate committee. The bill allows the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to disclose whether an employer has cheated its workers.

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CFOIC: What is the public entitled to know when a government board closes a meeting?

Concerned that some government boards were barring the public from meetings that should have been open, state lawmakers in 2001 enacted major changes to Colorado’s Sunshine Law.

They added, among other new requirements, two prerequisites before officials could shut the door: 1) Cite the statutory subsection authorizing the executive session; and 2) Reveal the particular matter to be discussed “in as much detail as possible without compromising the purpose for which the executive session is authorized.”

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Legislator plans another try at making Colorado judicial branch subject to CORA

A Republican state lawmaker said she will try again during the 2017 legislative session to make Colorado’s judicial branch subject to the state’s open-records law.

“It’s just so interesting that one branch of government thinks they should be held to a different standard,” Rep. Polly Lawrence of Douglas County told the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition. “We don’t let the executive branch write their own rules.”

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