Public information: 25 cents a page
DENVER – Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill into law Thursday that caps the cost for copies of public records at 25 cents a page after lawmakers said public information shouldn’t be cost-prohibitive.Under the previous law, copies of minutes from planning and zoning board meetings could cost anywhere from a dime a page in Logan County to $1.25 per page in Arapahoe and Douglas counties.Supporters of the measure (Senate Bill 45) said capping the cost would make it easier for people to obtain documents detailing how governments work.Sen. Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, said the maximum copy cost in the state’s public-records law is the highest in the country and has been and obstacle for some people who have sought records.Lawmakers said the proposal grew from a project last year by The Associated Press, newspapers and the Colorado Press Association that examined how public-records laws were working across the state. A survey conducted in 21 counties by 23 newspaper members of the organizations found wide variations in the charges for copies of similar records.Mark Silverstein, legal director for the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the high cost was an impediment to holding government accountable.Under existing law, law enforcement agencies can also charge “reasonable fees” up to the actual costs of copying for records they hold. Those fees can include personnel costs for research and retrieval of records. McElhany said he may consider future legislation to address costs for copies of criminal justice records.