March 25, 2014 Updated: March 25, 2014 at 10:25 am
DENVER - A Colorado Open Records Act bill that would limit search and recovery fees to a maximum $30 an hour for public documents got a preliminary OK on Monday from the Senate.
House Bill 1193 would make the first hour of work on a public records request free and would limit the per-hour charge after that to $30 an hour.
Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, said the bill is an important step in keeping records open to the public.
"What we're trying to do is shine more light on state and local government in Colorado by creating more certainty for the citizen to be able to access public records and to know that these are the procedures that need to be followed," he said.
The bill requires that each state entity responsible for public records develop a policy for fees associated with searching for the documents and post it on their website, or make it available to the public.
Kefalas said in an earlier interview that the bill walks a fine line between guaranteeing reasonable access to records while also addressing the burden massive records requests place on the state.
The bill passed in the Senate on Monday on second reading, a voice vote, with little opposition.
If it passes on final reading, it will head back to the House for consideration of Senate amendments, and then on to the governor.
A bill that tries to address what lawmakers have called the misuse of public documents also passed in the Senate on second reading Monday.
House Bill 1047 makes it an unclassified misdemeanor to make a public records request for arrest mug shots with the knowledge that it will be used in a website or publication that requires payment for the removal of the image.
According to the bill's sponsors, a number of companies have used mug shots, which are available under open records laws, as a business model. The companies post mug shots online and will only remove them if the subjects of the images pay a fee.
Under the proposed law, anyone requesting mug shots as public documents would have to sign a statement that they won't charge people a fee to have the image removed from a website or publication.
That bill also must go back to the House because of Senate amendments before it can go to the governor.
Contact Megan Schrader