Protecting Your Right to Open Government
Colorado FOIA Laws
Colorado Sunshine Law The Colorado Sunshine Law for open meetings informs of the methods by which public meetings are conducted. The law was first passed in 1972 and then modified in 1996. The law states that all meetings of two or more members of any state public body where any public business is discussed must be open to the public. A gathering of a quorum or three or more individuals of a local body constitutes a meeting. Emailed messages discussing pending actions constitutes meetings and are subject to the law. A notable exception is private meetings where the discussion of public business is not the central topic. If violated, state courts have the jurisdiction to enforce the Colorado Sunshine Law for open meetings. If the court finds that a violation occurred, the court can award plaintiff costs and reasonable attorney fees. Open Meetings Law C.R.S. 24-6-401 et seq. Closed: Social gatherings and chance meetings; property matters; attorney conferences; negotiations with employee organizations; personnel; and student discipline. Colorado Open Records Act Until the Colorado Public (Open) Records Act was formalized in 1969, the ability of a citizen to gain access to public records was at the discretion of the custodian of the records. Public records include all writings that are made, maintained, kept or held by entities that are subject to the Colorado Public (Open) Records Act for use in the exercise of functions required or authorized by law or administrative rule or involving the receipt or expenditure of public funds. Keep in mind, this could mean that a record that is in the custody of an agency subject to the Colorado Public (Open) Records Act would not itself, be subject to the Colorado Public (Open) Records Act if it was not made, maintained or kept for a governmental function or for an official reason. There are several clear exemptions in the Colorado Public (Open) Records Act. The first statute exempts correspondence that is work product and all correspondence with constituents that clearly implies by its nature or content that the constituent expects that it is confidential. Any person can request records and they are not required to state a purpose nor is the custodian of the records allowed to ask said person to provide a reason. Criminal justice record cannot be used for solicitation of business for monetary gain, but that is the only restriction on obtaining public records. Colorado Law stipulates a three day deadline for a response. Colorado Public (Open) Records Act C.R.S. 24-72-201 et seq. Exempt: At discretion of custodian: Records of investigations; test questions; details of research projects being conducted by the state; real estate appraisals; and motor vehicle license photographs. Custodian must Exempt: Medical data; personnel files; letters of reference; trade secrets; library records; addresses of public school children; and sexual harassment complaints under investigation.
Visit, Colorado Sample FOIA Request, to view a sample FOIA request for the state.