Legislators try to expand access

DENVER – Legislators have tried this year to expand public access to the finances of school districts and force boards to keep records of secret sessions.

Democrats wanted to pass House Bill 1110, which requires school boards to record their entire closed-door sessions and post minutes of what board members talked about. Currently, a school board’s lawyer can recommend that ce parts of secret sessions not be recorded because of attorney-client privilege.

However, the effort fell flat Wednesday, when the Senate sponsor asked to have the bill killed. The bill drew fierce Republican opposition, because it was introduced after conservative candidates won election to two school boards in November and promptly hired the same Colorado Springs lawyer to advise them.

Separately, Republicans renewed their push this year to require school districts to post details about their finances online. School districts don’t dispute that their financial data is public information, but they object to the mandate to post it online after several years of budget cuts imposed by the Legislature.

The transparency mandate is now part of the bipartisan Student Success Act, HB 1292. It hasn’t passed its first hearing.

The Legislature also is considering other changes to the sunshine laws.

HB 1193, which limits the fees government agencies can charge for public records requests. For requests that require a government employee to do research, the bill would limit hourly fees to four times the minimum wage. Exorbitant fees can be a barrier to accessing records.

Other bills:

SB 70 would have applied open records laws to non-governmental organizations made up chiefly of elected officials, such as the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties Inc. The bill failed.

SB 129 would seal court records for the first offense of a minor who violated marijuana laws. It has passed the Senate.

HB 1152 requires governments to destroy videos from police cameras after three years unless there’s a good reason to keep them. recordings.