Second time’s the charm: Colorado lawmakers pass open records law that will let you request searchable data

Colorado lawmakers pass CORA open records bill

District 14 Senator John Kefalas. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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District 14 Senator John Kefalas. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) legislature; copolitics; politics; legislative session; capitol; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
District 14 Senator John Kefalas. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Lawmakers have passed a bill to modernize the Colorado Open Records Act on the last day of the legislative session.

Sen. John Kefalas and Rep. Dan Pabon, both Democrats, sponsored the measure. It presumes that Colorado residents are entitled to access electronic government records in their original formats or in other ways that can be analyzed by computer.

Colorado’s Senate approved a revised House bill Wednesday. It was amended to protect security information vital to keeping utilities and other critical infrastructure safe.

Other states allow citizens to obtain public records in searchable formats. That hasn’t been the case in Colorado, where citizens often receive paper records that cannot be readily analyzed using computer programs.

Several hospitals, public universities and local government agencies opposed the bill, in part because they feared releases of confidential information. At one point, Senate Republicans sought to change the act itself to cover the judicial branch.

Kefalas and Pabon insisted their bill wasn’t intended to change what is disclosed, but how it’s disclosed. Kefalas worked on a similar bail that failed last year.