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Archive for April, 2012

Update on Colorado CORA Bill

Sunday, April 29th, 2012
HB 12-1036, the bill pertaining to the Colorado Open Records Act, has been laid over until Monday, April 30, 2012 for 2nd reading on the Senate floor of the Colorado Capitol in Denver. To recap, this bill, as it’s titled, is supposed to clarify access to CORA, but instead the bill started out very broad and vague in its wording. The broad nature and vagueness of the bill is likely not accidental. The proponents of the bill, which have introduced the bill to serve their own special interests, have specifically made this bill broad enough to encompass several other entities and mask their true intent.
The bill, as it was introduced, would have given the custodian of records the ability to deny the inspection of any investigatory files compiled for any civil, administrative, or criminal law enforcement purpose. The amendment adopted in one of the House committees then basically took out the criminal wording, and changed it to specify that the files compiled for any ongoing civil or administrative purpose are subject to denial. The amendment then alludes to portions of information that can be redacted.
The newest amendment, adopted in the Senate committee, specifies that A) ongoing civil and administrative investigative records conducted by the state or the entire executive branch of the government, that do not focus on a person or persons inside the agency, are subject to denial and B) the custodian may redact the names, personal identifying information and financial information of witnesses or targets of concluded investigations. Sections C) and D) of the bill, though necessary to stipulate, seem to be thrown in in hopes of appeasing opponents. Note that section A) of the bill pertains to records of executive departments. That would include police records.
It’s important to understand that these type of bills to limit access to records will continue to be introduced. They start out very broad, and even if they are amended down and passed into law, the bills still serve to whittle down the records access to the investigative profession and, perhaps more dangerously, to the reduced transparency of the state and its public servants. Here’s a disturbing study and report card issued on Colorado: http://www.stateintegrity.org/colorado
Note the grade Colorado received for public access to information. Also, for a related editorial on CORA, take a look at the following link: http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_20366852/editorial-fix-gaps-open-records-laws
I could not locate the latest amendment to HB1036 anywhere on the Colorado legislative website. 
Please continue sending those letters! Start with your State Senator first, and then continue sending letters to the other state Senators. The second reading, which is a voice vote, is on Monday, and the third reading will likely be on Tuesday!