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House GOP Newsletter  
Tuesday, September 29, 2015  

♦The judicial branch should be held to the same standards as the executive and legislative branches

♦Press Releases   ♦In the News 

♦Tweets of the Week   ♦Capitol Pictures

The judicial branch should be held to the same standards as the executive and legislative branches

By Assistant Minority Leader Polly Lawrence (R-Roxborough Park)

Our Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), in effect since 1969, ensures our government remains transparent and accountable to those who pay for it by declaring "all public records shall be open for inspection by any person." However, in 2012, the Colorado Court of Appeals essentially exempted the entire judicial branch from CORA. Thus, while CORA gives citizens the ability to request specific information from our governor's office, executive departments, and the legislative branch, including how they spend our hard-earned tax dollars, the judicial branch refuses to disclose even administrative records and financial information about how it operates. While the judicial branch may require unique protections, such as for confidential and privileged information, these limited circumstances should not excuse the judicial branch from providing access to all the other information it possesses.

Earlier this year, following several high-profile CORA requests, the Colorado Supreme Court instituted an interim administrative policy that gave judicial officials more flexibility to deny such requests – requests that the executive and legislative branches could not and would not have denied. Presently, a commission led by the head of the judiciary is drafting a formal policy regarding CORA requests, which I anticipate will not stray far from the disclosure protections in the existing interim policy. The attempt by the judiciary to dictate its own limited policy on the public's access to its records conflicts with the separation of powers doctrine. The judicial branch is tasked with interpreting the laws drafted by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, not creating their own version of those laws.

In other words, it should be up to the legislature to determine the government's policies. 

It is concerning that a citizen can request to see how their tax dollars are being spent by the governor's office and the legislature, but be denied by the judicial branch. No branch of state government should be allowed to dictate to the public why it is exempt from policies that are meant to make it accountable to the taxpayers.

I, along with Representative Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) and others are preparing legislation for the upcoming session that will bring the judicial branch in line with the transparency standards followed by the executive and legislative branches. I am hopeful we can work closely with members of the judicial branch to strike a balance between the necessary legal protections and an adequate level of transparency owed to Colorado's taxpayers. Robust transparency is the most effective way to achieve an efficient government, and there is no valid reason the judicial branch should be exempt from this standard.

If you have thoughts or concerns about this issue please contact me and thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter. You can keep up with all of our caucus updates by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or visiting www.coloradohousegop.com.

Sincerely,

Polly Lawrence

Press Releases

In the News

 Tweets of the Week 

Hanging out with @SenLindaNewell & @SenMartinezHumenik at the MS on the Move luncheon. Truly inspiring stories. #coleg #copolitics

It was an honor for me at speak at the annual banquet of the Colorado State Patrol Alumni Association. What a great group who put there lives on the line for the "rule of law".

CO House Republicans
.@RepNordberg earns 2015 Legislator of the Year award from the Independent Bankers of Colorado #coleg #copolitics

Capitol Pictures

(From left to right) Representatives Steve Humphrey (R-Eaton), Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland), JoAnn Windholz (R-Commerce City, Lois Landgraf (R-Fountain), Polly Lawrence (R-Roxborough Park), Danell Kelcevic, Jack Tate (R-Centennial), J. Paul Brown (R-Ignacio), Kim Ransom (R-Littleton), Janak Joshi (R-Colorado Springs) and Kent Kalcevic during a tour of Kalcevic Farms in Bennet, Colorado. 

Club 20 Rep. Coram

Rep. Don Coram (R-Montrose) addresses the Club 20 Western Slope fall meeting, on September 12. (Joey Bunch, The Denver Post)

Representative Jon Keyser (R-Morrison) discusses Colorado's role in securing America's energy independence. 

You can keep up with all of our updates by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or visiting COHouseGOP.com.

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