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EF8F558602EE208B87258936007551EE Hearing Summary


Date Jan 13, 2023      
Location HCR 0112

Public Meetings During Emergencies Model Act - Removed from this year's Legislative Agenda

02:21:29 PM  

Heather Stauffer, Colorado Municipal League (CML). The CML represents 270 of Colorado's 272 towns and cities and appreciated the opportunity to speak with the commission. This is an issue that CML and its member municipalities have worked on diligently since the beginning of the pandemic to develop virtual meeting procedures while upholding open meeting requirements and other applicable laws. Most municipalities, at this point, have solidified procedures and rules, have acquired systems, and have trained their staff and officials to use these systems. These current systems and processes were paid for by one-time funding sources and there is concern that new mandates in this arena could disrupt those systems or require additional funding for those communities. Secondly, the Colorado Open Meeting Law already recognizes that meetings of public bodies may be conducted electronically and the state's attorney general has stated that local governments can conduct virtual meetings electronically under the open meeting law as well. The CML is concerned that adopting the model act could unintentionally disrupt some longstanding legal interpretation and application of the open meeting law. Specifics were shared in the CML letter to the commission and asked that the commission not move forward on this act.

02:25:29 PM  
Dianne Criswell,
representing the Special District Association of Colorado.
membership includes more than 2,500 of the more than 3,300 special districts
in Colorado and the association shares the same concerns as the CML. The
model act seems to be well-drafted but is geared to states that do not
have as durable or broad open meeting laws as Colorado. It will be difficult
to administer in Colorado because of these long-standing laws. In addition,
especially for special districts, there are many emergency circumstances
that are not under a public health or emergency order in which public business
is executed. The risks under Colorado law for failing to follow the strict
procedural requirements are extreme and include having official actions
invalidated and contracts needing approval invalidated. Current open meeting
law is taken very seriously, has been applied for years, is in many ways
stricter than the model act, and applies with or without an emergency.
Special districts also request that the commission not move forward with
this act.
02:30:52 PM  

Robert Sheesley, General Counsel for the Colorado Municipal League, stated he was available to answer any questions for him but felt his colleagues adequately addressed the concerns from local governments and thanked the commission for its attention to the issue.

02:31:21 PM  

Commissioner Levy thanked the witnesses for their thoughtful review of the model act. She agreed that the act was drafted for those states that weren't equipped to address the pandemic and only able to continue to function and meet under executive orders that may have been limited in duration. She also noted that the act was drafted to allow for minor deviations from the provisions of the act and was intended to work within existing open meeting laws that did not contemplate virtual meetings. The commission thanked the witnesses for their time and testimony.

     Commissioner Levy moved that the commission withdraw the Public Meetings During Emergencies Model Act from the legislative agenda. Commissioner Gardner seconded and the motion passed without objection.


02:34:22 PM
Motion The commission withdraw the Public Meetings During Emergencies Model Act from the legislative agenda.
Moved Claire Levy
Alicia Duran
Thomas Grimshaw Excused
Yelana Love
Donald Mielke
Charley Pike Excused
Sara Scott
Tipper Excused
Claire Levy
Anne McGihon
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 3   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details