2024 Open Meetings Bills

The Colorado Open Meetings Law (COML) is one of the cornerstones of transparent government in Colorado and a crucial guarantee that allows Colorado journalists to report on the actions of state and local governments.

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition provides a valuable guide to open government with an overview of the history of COML: 

Initiated by the people of Colorado in 1972, the Colorado Open Meetings Law (COML) or Sunshine Law originally applied only to the General Assembly and state agencies. A separate law applied to local government meetings until 1991, when the legislature combined the statutes into one law (retaining some differences between the requirements for state public bodies and those for local public bodies).

The importance of open government meetings is made clear in the law’s first paragraph: “It is declared to be a matter of statewide concern and the policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and may not be conducted in secret.” C.R.S. § 24-6-401.

There are two bills before the 2024 Colorado legislature that propose significant changes to the COML: SB24-157 and HB24-1303. 

SB24-157 is scheduled for its first committee hearing on February 21. The bill sponsors reached out to CPA before introduction and made some changes at our request. We are in ongoing active conversations to address remaining concerns. 

CPA is committed to maximizing transparency and preserving the intent of the COML. We also recognize the need for legislators to speak to each other as professional colleagues. Proponents argue the bill largely codifies existing practice and legal guidance. CPA believes it is vital that the bill preserves the intent of COML as it pertains to the legislature and not open loopholes that allow or encourage public business to be conducted in secret. 

We have requested changes to the bill related to meetings that take place during the legislative session and to caucus meetings that take place before session. We are also advocating for the creation of an ongoing forum to address concerns that arise over time. The definition of public business is currently tied to legislation only after it is introduced, and we are working to enhance transparency of conversations in advance of introduction.