by Beecher Threatt
Gov. John Hickenlooper has vetoed nine bills sent to him by the 2018 Colorado General Assembly. Two concern transparency in government.
A bill that would have placed restrictions on public disclosure by coroners of autopsy reports in deaths of minors would have curbed public and media access to the information.
Media groups, including Colorado Press Association, Colorado Broadcasters Association, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and the Colorado Springs Press Association sent letters to Hickenlooper asking him to veto the bill.
“Transparency can lead to enhanced government protections, greater public and private resources, and heightened public understanding and demand for change,” Hickenlooper wrote in his veto letter. “An informed public has societal benefits for all at-risk children, present and future.”
CPA pointed out the Routt County Coroner’s Office unsuccessfully sued the Steamboat Pilot and Today, seeking a ruling not to release the autopsy report of a three-year-old. The released report showed the boy died of extreme dehydration after his mother left him alone for four days.
Steve Zansberg, a media attorney, noted that existing law works, such as when a court of appeals authorized a coroner to withhold autopsy reports from the Columbine High School shooting.
In a release, CPA said deaths are investigated by public officials and employees, whose offices are funded with public money, but under this bill they would not have to release reports on child deaths that the state has concluded are important to be...