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Access To Government Records

Concerning improving public access to government records.
2023 Regular Session
State Government
Bill Summary

The bill makes changes to the "Colorado Open Records Act" (CORA). and to record retention requirements for state agencies.Definitions. The bill modifies the definition of "public records" (records) in CORA to clarify that writings made, maintained, or kept by the state, including any office of the state, are records. The bill also changes the definition of "electronic mail" to "electronic communication" to encompass all forms of electronic communication.Public records open to inspection. The bill prohibits, with certain specified exceptions, a custodian of public records from requiring a requester to provide any form of identification to request or inspect records pursuant to CORA.Format of records for inspection. Current law specifies how a custodian is required to provide a record for inspection if the record is available in a digital format that is sortable, searchable, or both. The bill repeals the current requirements regarding records that are available in a sortable format. The bill specifies that if a record is available and can be transmitted in digital format, the custodian is required to transmit the record in a digital format by electronic communication unless otherwise requested by the requester or by another mutually-agreed upon transmission method if the size of the record prevents transmission by electronic communication . In addition, the bill prohibits a custodian from converting a digital record into a non-searchable or non-sortable format prior to transmission.Records subject to inspection. CORA currently allows a custodian to deny a requester's right to inspect certain records on the ground that disclosure of the record would be contrary to the public interest. The bill includes in this category the telephone number or home address that a person provides to an elected official , agency, institution, or political subdivision of the state for the purpose of future communication with the elected official , agency, institution, or political subdivision of the state .

The bill specifies that if an elected official is the subject of a government-authorized investigation into the elected official's alleged sexual harassment in the workplace, the final report of the investigation is a public record; except that the identity of any accuser and any potentially identifiable characteristics of any accuser must be redacted unless the identity of all accusers is already known to the public. records of sexual harassment complaints made against an elected official and the results or report of investigations regarding alleged sexual harassment by an elected official conducted by or for that official's government shall be made available for inspection if the investigation concludes that the elected official is culpable for any act of sexual harassment. The bill specifies that the identity of any accuser, accused who is not an elected official, victim, or witness and any other information that would identify any such person must be redacted.

Electronic mail policy. The bill requires each member of the general assembly, the governor's office and each office of the governor, and each state agency and institution to submit, on or before January 1, 2024, a report to the staff of the legislative council of the general assembly outlining its respective electronic mail retention policy.Transmission and per-page fees for records. Currently, a custodian may transmit a record to a requester in one of several ways and may charge the requester for the costs associated with transmitting the record; except that the custodian may not charge a fee if the record is transmitted via electronic communication. In addition, a custodian may currently charge a per-page fee for providing copies of a record. The bill specifies that the custodian may not charge a per-page fee if the records are provided in a digital or electronic format.Electronic payments. The bill requires a custodian to allow records requesters to pay any fee or deposit associated with the request via a credit card or electronic payment if the custodian allows members of the public to pay for any other product or service provided by the custodian with a credit card or electronic payment.Records retention requirements. The bill requires all electronic communications sent to or received by an officer or employee of a state agency, the contents of which include any discussion of the public business of the state agency and are relevant to any proceeding in which the state agency is involved, to be retained for at least the length of the applicable proceeding. In addition, the bill requires each state agency to retain all electronic mail messages in its custody or control that may be responsive to a request for records pursuant to CORA until the request for records and any subsequent appeals are resolved.

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)

(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)




Bill Text

Email addresses for the Colorado legislature have changed from the domain to the domain on December 1, 2022. Details