SOS helps open-records measure survive tumultuous journey

Sen. John Kefalas talks about his public records bill that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law today. It was the second year in a row the Fort Collins Democrat has introduced a bill to modernize open records laws. (SOS photo)

An effort to modernize the state’s open records law died in one legislative session, spent months being studied by a working group at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, appeared destined to die again this legislative session but was reborn and finally signed into law today.

Gov. John Hickenlooper referred to its tumultuous journey.

“This is one of the bills that was hotly debated throughout the session, and really did require some gentle caressing and firm molding,” Hickenlooper said. “But when you see some very conservative components of our community and some very liberal components of our community coming together, generally you know that there’s good things close at hand.”

In urging the passage of Senate Bill 40 during committee hearings, Secretary of State Wayne Williams quoted “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which lawmakers said likely was a legislative first.

The law now requires public records that are kept digitally to be released to requestors in that format.

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Secretary Wayne Williams urges support of open-records measure

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, right, testifies in favor of an open-records bill before a Senate committee Wednesday. With him are, left, SOS IT director Trevor Timmons, and, middle, the bill sponsor, Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins. (SOS photo)

By Lynn Bartels and Julia Sunny

Secretary of State Wayne Williams quoted President Lincoln and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” when he testified before a state Senate committee Wednesday on a bill that would modernize Colorado’s open-record laws.

“Ultimately public data belongs to the people and it’s not for government to say, ‘Well, I don’t like what you might do with that information.’ … Too often in government we don’t make information easily accessible to people,” he said.

“This bill makes it easier for Coloradoans to get the documents in a format that they can use. It does it while providing protections for information that should not be disclosed and it is an important step in opening up information that truly belongs, as President Lincoln said, to the people.”

The State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee voted 4-1 to send Senate Bill 40 by Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, to the Appropriations Committee, but only after amendments that could ultimately doom the measure. (Keep reading to see how various media outlets, including Kefalas’ hometown paper, The Coloradoan, covered the hearing.)

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SIPA doles out micro-grants to help Colorado governments get online

Andrew Cole, who oversees the Go Code Colorado program and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, with their micro-grant.
Andrew Cole, who oversees the Go Code Colorado program and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, with their micro-grant certificate.

An app for anglers statewide, a GIS map for fire hydrants in the Le Veta Fire Protection District and scanning newspaper articles about the Chicano movement for Colorado State University at Pueblo — those proposals and more received micro-grants Tuesday night from a program designed to help government put more information and services online.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office also was awarded a grant, of $5,000, for its awarding-winning Go Code Colorado program, which helps make government data more easily assessable and understandable.

The grants were doled out from the Statewide Internet Portal Authority or SIPA, which explores how citizens can electronically access state government information, products and services. Williams serves on SIPA’s board.

More than $100,000 was awarded at the ceremony at the Ralph Carr Judicial Center, where Williams spoke to the crowd. Lawmakers, including Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, and Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, were on hand to give out the awards.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, back right and to the right, and other members of the Statewide Internet Portal Authority after micro-grants were awarded Tuesday night.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, second row and to the right, and other members of the Statewide Internet Portal Authority after micro-grants were awarded Tuesday night.

Colorado Nonprofit Association honors those who help make their communities better

Lobbyist Ruth Aponte, Christine Marquez-Hudson, the president and CEO of The Denver Foundation, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and lobbyist Edie Busam at the Colorado Nonprofit Association's awards lunch today.
Lobbyist Ruth Aponte, Christine Marquez-Hudson, the president and CEO of The Denver Foundation, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and lobbyist Edie Busam at the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s awards lunch today.

Bill Hana, a fixture at the state Capitol for years, received a standing ovation today when he was awarded the Public Service Lifetime Achievement award from the Colorado Nonprofit Association at its annual awards gala.

Bill Hanna was the recipient today of the Colorado Nonprofit Association's Public Service Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bill Hanna was the recipient today of the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s Public Service Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gov. John Hickenlooper presented the award to Hanna, who is crediting with helping “shape the public service, nonprofit and political landscape of Colorado since his arrival in 1971.” Hanna was well known for his legislative work for the state Department of Human Services and now is the legislative liaison for the United Veterans Committee.

Hanna was one of several award recipients today at the lunch, which was held at the Denver Marriott City Center as part of Colorado Nonprofit Association Week. Renny Fagan, the president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, kicked off the event by noting the the impact of nonprofit organizations on the state.

Renny Fagan, the president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, and Sen. John Kefalas, who along with Sen. Kent Lambert, were honored as Lawmakers of the Year.
Renny Fagan, the president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, and Sen. John Kefalas, who along with Sen. Kent Lambert, were honored as Lawmakers of the Year.

Sens. John Kefalas, a Fort Collins Democrat, and Kent Lambert, a Colorado Springs Republican, received the Legislator of the Year awards from the group.

Lydia McCoy, board chairwoman of the Colorado Nonprofit Association and executive director of Ray of Hope Cancer Foundation, compared their work to the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

She said sometimes the constant fundraising and other duties can be overwhelming, but think of what Colorado would be like if nonprofit groups were not there to help out their communities.

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