May 21, 2019

SB 16-037: Modifying Requirements of Record-Keepers Under Colorado Open Records Act

On January 13, 2016, Sen. John Kefalas and Rep. Dan Pabon introduced SB 16-037Concerning Required Public Access Under the “Colorado Open Records Act” to Public Records as Defined By Such Act Contained in Digitally Stored Data Maintained By Governmental Bodies. The bill has passed through the Senate Health & Human Services and Appropriations Committees with amendments in both committees. It passed through the Senate with amendments and was assigned in the House to the Health, Insurance, & Environment Committee, where it was amended and referred to Appropriations.

This bill proposes to modify to the existing legal requirements under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) pertaining to the inspection of open records.

The bill updates outdated statutory language used to describe public records kept in miniaturized, electronic, or digital form as a foundation for inspection requirements in connection with such records.

It deletes existing language that would require the official custodian to take any measures necessary to assist the public in locating specific records and to ensure access to the records without unreasonable cost or delay. The bill proposes to substitute provisions that would require the official custodian to provide records in any nonproprietary file format and storage medium specified by the requestor. This would include digital copies of any computer files, email, records uploaded to an online storage location shared with the requestor, access through viewing stations for records kept on microfiche, or, at the custodian’s discretion, direct electronic access.

The bill also requires the official custodian to manipulate electronically or digitally stored data in order to delete any confidential data in response to a records request. Removal of such confidential information or data does not trigger certain requirements specified in CORA for the payment of fees for the generation or copy of a public record. The official custodian, however, may charge the requestor for the actual cost of the digital storage used, if any, and a research and retrieval fee for the time spent gathering the information.

Mark Proust is a 2016 JD Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

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